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Local YMCA launches
Many programs already in place
W 102817 YMCA 01
Dressed out in his cyborg Halloween costume, Christopher Thompson, 10, gives the heavy bags in the boxing room a workout as the new Statesboro Family YMCA hosts their ribbon-cutting and grand opening Saturday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Statesboro Family YMCA, which celebrated its grand opening Saturday, has programs already available, with an emphasis on fitness activities and family.

When Bob Mikell, chair of the local YMCA Board of Managers, addressed the crowd, the sign on the outside wall of the wellness center was over his shoulder. Hundreds of people gathered at the YMCA’s new home on the former Sallie Zetterower Elementary School campus at the intersection of Clairborne Avenue and Brannen Street for the cutting of three ceremonial ribbons. Tours and other activities followed.

“If you look up there, ‘Statesboro Family YMCA,’ to me, the most important thing up there is ‘family,’” Mikell said. “It’s each other that we have here today, supporting each other, helping each other when they’re down, and leading each other to a stronger mind, body and spirit. That is the mission of the Y.”

Glistening floor-to-ceiling, the play space of the former school gym has been transformed into the Y’s 11,000 square-foot wellness center.

It is filled with more than 40 pieces of exercise apparatus, including the latest cardio machines, treadmills, weight machines and a free-weight area with all-new weights and racks. Beyond the walls of the main wellness center floor, the room at the far end is now the boxing studio, with five full-size punching bags and two speed bags.

At the other end of the wellness center, two large classrooms have become “Child Watch” rooms. With age-selected playthings inside and trained child care staff scheduled, one is for children ages 6 weeks to 4 years, the other for ages 5-12. Child care is being provided free to YMCA member parents while they exercise or take part in studio programs.

The nearest portion of one of the former school’s classroom wings has been updated so that five classrooms are now in dedicated used by the YMCA.

One is the Teen Lounge. Another is the Spin Studio, equipped with 15 new stationary bikes. Another is the Program Studio, which can be used for dance-based programs such as ballet, tap, musical theater and kick line. The Yoga Studio does not yet have a yoga instructor, but Zumba and other classes that can use this space are on the schedule. The fifth room is the Community Room, furnished as a boardroom.

The former lunchroom has also received a lighter renovation as an open activity space, with new flooring, paint, other repairs and a mirrored wall. Used to sign up new members Saturday, it will accommodate aerobics programs and dance-type classes, staff members said.

Statesboro YMCA Branch Director Tory Joyner leads a core staff that includes a membership coordinator, a fitness coordinator, a Child Watch coordinator and a facilities manager. They have enlisted about 18 part-time staff members, including some specialized instructors.

Established as a branch of the YMCA of Coastal Georgia, based in Savannah, the YMCA does not yet have all the types of programming its backers envision. But the first class and childcare schedules start Monday.

“The first phase, right now we’re going to focus on the wellness center, and then as we hear what members want we’ll add additional programming,” said Hillary Bradbury, marketing and communications director for the YMCA of Coastal Georgia.

Scheduled classes include Workout of the Day; cycling; Zumba; HIIT; or high-intensity interval training; and Tabata, which is also an interval-training program.  Active-N-Ageless low-impact classes are offered for active older adults. The YMCA does not set a minimum age for these, Bradbury said.

Also slated are some Hip Hop classes, a Boot Camp class including both strength and cardio training, and a Barre class, for muscle-toning at a ballet barre.

Several of Saturday’s speakers congratulated and thanked volunteers, Mikell especially, for their work over several years leading to the opening of the new Y. The letters YMCA stand for Young Men’s Christian Association. A family Y like this one is open to male and female participants of all ages, but the association retains its identity as a Christian ministry.

“After all the kind words that have been said about me, I can only return thanks to the Lord because every step of this process has been guided by the Lord,” Mikell said.  The builders, the staff members, the donors, everybody that has come together to create this has followed at the direction of the Lord.”



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