YMCA of Southern West Virginia CEO provides an inside look at new renovations

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – The YMCA of Southern West Virginia in Beckley shut down before it was mandated back in early March out of COVID-19 concern.

But then during the shutdown, they received plans from their architectural designer on what renovations could look like on the top floor. 

That is when they decided to use the time gyms were shut down plus extra months to keep their full-time staff employed working on renovating the workout area with their contracting crews. 

On Monday, members will be able to see it for themselves as they open back up at 5 a.m. 

“A lot of the concentration was opening up the floor, reducing the touch points that were within,” CEO Jay Rist said. “Once upon a time there was a corridor going down this hallway,m and we had three different doors to enter the wellness center. Now it’s open air. You walk in, check in at the desk, you come on through, you can get your workout started.”

There is all new cardio and weight training equipment accompanied by new flooring, lights and a paint job. The total cost of the first phase of the project was a little over $300,000.

Some of their older equipment is still there and some got reupholstered while the new stuff is bringing in some high-tech features to cardio workouts as bikes and treadmills now come with interactive video screens.

Of course a successful reopen will be centered around COVID-19 safety as Rist says there will be a strong focus on social distancing on all floors as well as small groups for group exercise and a strong focus on disinfecting. 

“You want to wear a mask while you’re not working out,” he said. “Your temperature will get shot when you walk through the door. If you’re temperature is 100.4 you won’t be granted access unfortunately. Everybody’s got to understand that as we get through these guidelines that are ever evolving. We’re working with the state and local officials to try to follow these guidelines and we ask that our members do the same.” 

You can still use locker rooms to change and use the showers but the saunas, steam rooms and whirlpools will remain closed. 

People must make reservations to use the freshly-painted pool.

Childcare is still an option as they’ve moved that room downstairs to have a more open floor plan upstairs.

While the focus has been the health and wellness floor and the front desk, this is just Phase One as they hope to open that up and continue to look at ways to improve the other floors as well.

“I’m looking forward to just seeing the reactions from our members,” Rist said. “We’ve had a number that have stopped through and have seen the progress over time and they’ve been really excited to share that with everybody else so we’re looking forward to getting open.” 

The newly-renovated “Y” will open at 5 a.m. on Monday. You can head over to their website for their full list of COVID guidelines by clicking here. 

Anna Saunders
Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.