Construction is set to begin on the $1 million expansion at Streator’s YMCA.
And once it’s open, it may not close again.
Well, the updated wellness center that is.
Executive Director Josh Biros said a 24-hour wellness center is one of the many additions to its offerings that The Y is considering.
“It’s important for people to come in as they please,” Biros said. “The big plan with this facility is the accessibility not just for our senior population but for our millennial population, our younger kids. As I’m finding out, they like to come and go as they please so to give them that opportunity would be awesome.”
The Y detailed their plans for the new space during a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday morning. Funding came from OSF Healthcare and the Friends of St. Mary's fund that was created when the hospital closed.
Construction is set to begin Monday and, if all goes according to plan, The Y is looking at opening the facility in October.
Welcoming wellness center
The building will be expanded on the southeast side, which will make up the new, brighter wellness center.
Biros said making the environment as welcoming as possible was key and hopes the non-intimidating environment encourages those looking to keep fit.
“I don’t envision walking in and hearing loud music and plates clanking. I envision just the quiet hum of laughter and fellowship and a little bit of just getting people fit and exercising,” Biros said.
The larger free weights and strength training equipment will remain in the basement.
Biros hopes the wellness center serves two functions.
“A lot of this is obviously about health and wellness but I think a big portion of that is socialization for those that don’t get out,” Biros said. “I noticed that with a lot of our members currently how big of a deal it is to come in and read the newspaper and talk politics.”
Additionally, the parking areas will be revised to allow for easier navigability and accessibility for senior visitors with parking spaces near the lobby and wellness center.
The Y brings new tech to kids
Biros also further detailed the interactive technology that will be present in the new kids exercise room on the east side of the building.
The Y has partnered with Axtion Fitness Technology to provide interactive technology that is similar to gaming devices such as Wii Fit and the Xbox Kinect, but on a much larger scale.
“They’re really an innovator in interactive technology so we’ve termed it as a way to keep kids exercising without them knowing,” Biros said.
Equipment from Axtion will include a T-Wall, which is an interactive touch wall that plays similarly to the game "Simon Says," a fitness video wall and more.
Biros said the facility will be one-of-a-kind and Axtion will use the site as a testing ground to try out their new technology.
The Y expansion meets OSF needs
OSF St. Elizabeth President Ken Beutke said the new kids' area at The Y keeps in line with OSF’s overall goals of keeping the community healthy.
He said the center is a way for them to “get upstream” by focusing on the youths in the community and creating healthy habits at a young age.
“It’s really exciting to see this type of work come together in a collaborative way and to really focus on new technology and new spaces to make the community healthier,” Beutke said.
OSF will refer patients both to the wellness center and kids center and a web-based system will allow them to share information and keep each other on the same page with regards to an individual’s health.
Don Damron, vice president of ambulatory services, said this partnership will guide the future of health in Streator moving forward.
“It’s an innovative way to look at the health of a population differently and collaboratively and I think it goes beyond just programming but the collaborative and innovative approach in getting people healthy and keeping them healthy," he said.