YMCA of Southern West Virginia set to reopen Aug. 31, with a new look

Jay Rist, CEO of the YMCA of Southern West Virginia, wipes down exercise equipment in the Wellness Center at the YMCA in Beckley in March. The YMCA of Southern West Virginia will be reopening to members at the end of the month and showcasing a newly renovated Health and Wellness Center that offers brand new equipment and an updated lobby. (Register-Herald file photo)

The YMCA of Southern West Virginia will be reopening to members at the end of the month and showcasing a newly renovated Health and Wellness Center that offers brand new equipment and an updated lobby.

“We’re very excited to show our members what we’ve been up to the last couple of months,” said Jay Rist, CEO for the Y, who added, “I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised with what we’ve accomplished in the first phase of our renovation project.”

The Y closed March 16th as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to the closure, the Y had commissioned GRO Development, a New York-based firm that focuses on facility development, facility design and facility management consulting for non-profits, to change the spaces inside the downtown facility.

Rist announced in a press release that the closure provided the perfect time to start on Phase 1 of facility upgrades — the top floor of the building.

He reported the Y’s full-time staff got on board with the demo and site prep work, while Rist served as the project manager, working directly with suppliers and sub-congractors to get the finishing work done.

When the doors open on Aug. 31, members will see that the top floor is a "true health and wellness floor, complete with brand new MATRIX free weight and cardio equipment, re-padded, "selectorized" equipment, sports performance flooring, express lockers, LED lighting, unisex changing areas and sanitization stations.

The Y also now offers a larger lobby/lounge area to feature a more welcoming front desk and access point, as well as a lounge with easy-to-clean furniture and tables.

There is space for students to study and kids to wait on their parents, or vice versa, he added.

The space has new LVT flooring and LED lighting.

“Essentially, we have set up the top floor to easily function if things like our locker rooms, pool, gym, group ex studios etc. would have to get locked down again due to the pandemic.” said Rist.

As the Y forges forward to its opening day, Rist said, he and his team are eyeing the next projects for Phase II. Phase II will focus on elevator accessibility, a feeding kitchen to serve meals to hungry children and to provide a space for all kids to engage, transformation of the racquetball court space into a 1,600-foot mezzanine level that will offer child watch and administration offices, expansion of the Wellness Center with a mind/body studio and a rooftop terrace for outdoor classes. 

“Probably our biggest priority is getting an elevator installed to offer our members sure-fire access to all three floors, and our second priority is transforming the former weight room into the Intergen/Feeding Kitchen,” Rist said, adding, “We’re working with our board and staff to narrow the focus of the next phase, so we’ll see what’s up next.”

The renovation project has been supported by the redirection of capital campaign donations received for the construction of a new Y that did not go through, said Rist.

Y supporters directed Rist to use their donations to offer the array of upgrades to the centrally-located downtown facility.

"We're very thankful that our donors decided to join us as we went with this alternative plan," said Rist. "They've been very supportive of the direction the Y has chosen to take.

"We wouldn't be able to do it without them."

 While Phase I is nearing its completion, Rist says that the Y is continuing to accept donations to support future phases.

Donors may support the "Remodel, Revitalize, Relaunch the Y" project by contacting Rist via e-mail, jay.rist@ymcaswv.com, and after the Y reopens on the 31st at 304 252 0715 x 308.

As the Y gets ready to reopen, Rist encourages all of its members to visit the Y’s page detailing what can be expected when they visit. The information can be found at https://www.ymcaswv.com/covid-19-reopen

“It is very important that our members visit the page prior to their first day back,” Rist said, adding “It has a lot of critical information that is essential for everyone’s safety and enjoyment while at the Y.”

The Y will re-open at 5 a.m. on Aug. 31.



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