A new approach to wellness

Wellness and fitness may soon be on the way up in Calgary’s ever-expanding southeast, thanks to the grand opening of our city’s newest YMCA facility.

The South Health Campus YMCA officially opened its doors to the public on Monday, giving new members, drop-ins and the surrounding community their first opportunity to check out the modern fitness centre.

“It’s incredibly exciting to open our doors and welcome our new members,” said Jennie Petersen, general manager of wellness services at the new YMCA. “Everyone was very enthusiastic at the opportunity to finally come check us out.”

Jordan Tam, who previously frequented the Shawnessy YMCA, lifts free weights with support from staff the new South Health Campus facility, which opened its doors to the public on Monday.

Photo by Matt Laurin

The facility is located in the South Health Campus, the new hospital in south Calgary, and is the first of its kind to be directly integrated with a health facility.

The YMCA fitness facility is one of first phases of the hospital to open; other phases – including the emergency department – aren’t scheduled to open until 2013.

The beginning of a new partnership

It is the first model in Canada where a YMCA will be located in a medical or health environment, said Petersen. “We have a very unique opportunity in a number of respects, and it relates to the partnership that we are in with Alberta Health Services and the University of Calgary.”

Petersen said she is hopeful that this unique opportunity will inspire future projects in the city and beyond.

She also emphasized the importance of a wellness centre in southeast Calgary.

“It provides more options for the residents in this area for a facility to go to, in terms of fitness classes or coming in for general health and well-being. That’s very important to us.”

State of the art fitness

The two-story facility boasts all the bells and whistles of a modern fitness centre, including a 100-metre running track, a climbing wall, free weights and state-of-the-art fitness equipment.

Rob Dickson, the program manager of the South Health Campus YMCA, offered a look into some of the innovations.

“All the cardio machines have touch screens, the TVs integrate right into it, and you can hook up your iPod to most of the machines,” said Dickson. “You can even play games on some of the equipment.”

Another feature of the new equipment is the FitLink system, an electronic tracking system that records all aspects of a person’s workout.

Once set up on the system, the screens on the equipment will provide users with a variety of information including how many repetitions to do, how many sets to do, where to set the seat and how much weight was used previously. The cardio equipment records time used, heart rate and calories burned, all of which is saved in a permanent database.

“You can also record fitness classes and free weights into the system, and you can access it from your home computer,” said Dickson. “You can even add other workouts into the database, such as going for a run.”

The new YMCA also offers a variety of fitness classes, slated to begin in November. These will include a mix of drop-in classes, as well as registered programs to ensure space.

A welcome addition

With their doors now open to the public, staff invite people to come have a look at the facility, which is already garnering positive feedback in the community.

“The whole facility in general is top notch,” said Jordan Tam, a YMCA member who previously frequented Shawnessy YMCA. “This location here will be great for all the people using the hospital, and all the new communities around it.”

Staff members at the South Health Campus are also embracing the new YMCA. Clare Russell, who works in diagnostic imaging, described the new facility as “fantastic, clean and open.”

“It will be good for the community,” said Russell. “Get them fit and well, so that they come to the hospital for this and nothing else.”

mlaurin@cjournal.com