When Veronica Melendez goes into the Haverhill YMCA for her workout, she is wide-eyed and excited to train.
The fitness center has doubled in size, creating a better exercise experience for the YMCA’s members.
“It’s so much more spacious,” Melendez said. “There’s a lot more room. It’s great.”
The $75,000 expansion of the fitness center is part of YMCA’s refocus on healthy living and social responsibility.
“We wanted to have the opportunity to expand as much as we could,” said Tracy Fuller, executive director of the Haverhill YMCA.
In addition to the expanded fitness area, the YMCA has provided an additional group exercise studio to account for more family members and more mothers who tend to take those classes.
“We have a variety of people who come to work out at the Y,” Fuller said. “From teens who like our Zumba class to seniors who like our Tai Chi classes, we feel that having an expanded layout to meet the needs of our members has been really important to us.”
The fitness center is state of the art for its size, according to Tom Lavigne, the Haverhill YMCA’s health and wellness director.
“This is by far the nicest weight room (in the area) for a YMCA of comparable size,” Lavigne said. “We have what you need as far as equipment. The new color scheme is more vibrant and we feel better about it.”
The new fitness center had a soft opening two weeks ago and will have its official grand opening on Sept. 15. The renovation has been in the pipeline since January, when the YMCA started discussing floor plans for the new fitness center. Construction started at the end of April and was completed by the beginning of this month. While construction was going on, the gym was still usable for members.
The YMCA used space that previously contained unused office space and restrooms to build the new fitness area. The new area also allows for an additional stretching area and a smaller weight rack for people who are inexperienced in weight training.
“We strictly had a weight room in the back previously,’’ Fuller said. “Now it is a lot more open and people are enjoying it more.’’
The YMCA also added cardio machines, with additional elliptical machines, cross trainers and treadmills. The YMCA also purchased a new strength line called Keiser, which adjusts weights through air pressure rather than weight stacks.
“A lot of the people who may have been intimidated by big weight machines before don’t have that problem anymore,” Fuller said. “Now, they are much more comfortable in utilizing it and making the adjustments that they need.’’
This is the second recent major renovation at the YMCA. In 2006, the YMCA spent nearly $5 million to double the size of its housing, as well as rebuild the locker rooms, create a group exercise studio and move the building’s entrance to Portland Street. The entrance was previously on Winter Street.
In addition to the new fitness center, the YMCA finished installing air conditioning in the gymnastics room, after complaints from parents about high temperatures there. The YMCA is also looking to improve signage on the outside of the building to make it look more inviting.