Shades Valley YMCA unveils facility after $5.5 million renovation

HOMEWOOD, Alabama — Walk into the newly-renovated Shades Valley YMCA and the spirit of change is instantly recognizable. From the recently-built 4,500 square foot area added to the front lobby and the brand new workout equipment, it is clear that this particular Y branch set out to make substantial, overarching changes.

It all began four years ago, when the Shades Valley Y began a fundraising campaign to help renovate the 50-year-old building. After collecting funds for three years, the RENEW OUR HOME renovation project broke ground in March of last year.

One of the main goals of the project, said Shades Valley Director Cham Norman, was to make the space more user-friendly and in turn, also more family-friendly.

“We wanted to make sure we offered something for the whole family,” said Norman, during a recent tour of the facility. “The Y is more than just a workout facility for adults; it should also be a safe and fun place for kids to enjoy after school as well as in the summer.”

Making the space more user-friendly, he said, involved opening up the space, connecting areas such as the locker room and the pool, and building new rooms including a family changing room, child-care room, and a brand-new group exercise room. Group exercise classes include, but are not limited to: Y Cross, BodyStep, BodyFlow, Pilates and Yoga.

Along with careful planning, change also meant the need to part with the old and welcome the new. Approximately 85 percent of the workout equipment on site is new, allowing the Shades Valley Y to boast about the availability of the latest high-tech gear and a few exclusive pieces. The treadmills, all lined up along floor to ceiling windows that provide a view, are also hooked up to individual TVs. The Y’s FreeMotion treadmill allows members to customize their workout using Google Maps, plotting the exact location of the terrain they want to conquer. Other trendy gadgets, including the warm up and cool down machine known as the Power Plate, are popular among regulars.

The new additions mean the Y can now serve approximately 2,000 more members each year, explained Norman. Continuing to serve was also a top priority. Throughout the nine month project, the Y never closed its doors. As one section was built, things simply shifted around a bit, said Norman.

In all, he said, the changes have been noticed and are being appreciated by members. Well before the official ribbon-cutting ceremony last week, Norman reported that he had already been noticing a difference in usage and membership numbers.

The entire list of additions and changes includes:

  • Fitness workout areas built for the entire family
  • Outdoor Family Fun Splash and lap swimming pool
  • Child-watch services and nursery
  • Family changing rooms
  • Improved accessibility
  • Teen technology center
  • Women’s and men’s locker rooms
  • Health coaching area
  • Youth outdoor “Airnasium”
  • “Heart Healthy” cardiovascular workout area
  • The Spirit, Mind and Body Group Exercise Room
  • Spinning (Group Cycling) Center

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