NORWICH – After months of renovations,the Norwich Family YMCA is one step closer to officially opening a cutting-edgeworkout room that combines health and wellness with interactive technology.

The organization’s new interactivefitness room is just one part of a larger $300,000-plus construction projectrecently spearheaded by the YMCA that includes a complete overhaul of thefacility’s 3-story high kids’ gym area. Staffers closed the kids’ gym in 2013citing conditions that made it unsafe.

“We were getting ready to make someupgrades, but we found we could almost buy a new kids’ gym for what it costsfor upgrades to the old one,” said Jamie Mullen, Norwich Family YMCA ExecutiveDirector.

That in mind, the YMCA Board ofDirectors decided to purchase a new kids’ gym. But before installing it, theyalso found between 10 and 15 feet of unused space from the top of the old kids’gym to the ceiling. Mullen said that sparked an idea to install a concretefloor halfway up, thereby splitting the one-floor room into two separate rooms.

Thanks to additional funding gifted bythe Roger Follett Foundation, the project got underway in the fall. When allwas said and done, the YMCA was provided 800 square feet of floor space thathadn’t previously existed.

“It required us to shrink the kids’ gymarea a little bit, but we gained a lot of extra space without taking on asignificant construction project,” said Mullen.

With two rooms to work with, a newkids’ gym was installed on the bottom floor and opened to members earlier thisyear. The top floor, however, would take on a unique approach.

“We wanted something in that top spacethat could target mainly younger adolescents – middle school age and maybeolder – in an effort to combat childhood obesity,” Mullen explained.

According to the Center for DiseaseControl and Prevention, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweightor obese in 2012. Obese children are likely to become obese adults, says theCDC, causing longterm consequences including heart disease, type two diabetes,stroke, several types of cancer and osteoarthritis.

“The national childhood obesity rate isalarming,” said Mullen. “We wanted this new fitness room to attract, retain andpromote wellness, but we didn’t want it to look like another normal room. Wewanted to use technology that would attract kids to make exercise more like agame … If we can get kids to be more active and engaged, we feel that wecould help combat the national epidemic of childhood obesity.”

Once again, the YMCA Board of Directorsand trustees took a unanimous vote – this time to purchase new exerciseequipment to attract a younger crowd by blending interactive technology withfitness. Equipment was purchased though a Chicago-based company called MotionFitness, a leading producer of interactive exercise equipment.

With everything now in place, the YMCAhosted a soft opening of the new interactive fitness room during Healthy Kids’Day on April 26. The event gave people a chance to test the new equipment andget a preview of what’s to come. “People were really excited to see it,” Mullensaid, noting how unique an interactive fitness room is. “We are told by MotionFitness that we are only the fifth facility in the entire country to have anentire room constructed for this type of equipment.”

The YMCA is currently recruiting andtraining more employees to use the new equipment which has delayed the officialopening of the interactive fitness room for the time being. A training seminarhosted by Motion Fitness for YMCA employees is scheduled for May 15. Mullensaid hopes are to open the room to members shortly after.

For additional information on theNorwich Family YMCA, fitness programs and the new interactive fitness room,call 336-9622 or like the Norwich Family YMCA on Facebook.

Credit to The Evening Sun