Sections

Weather Forecast

Close

YMCA offers more than workout classes

Dawayne Barnett of Woodbury, Jim Simpson of Woodbury and Sharon McCoy of Newport enjoy a card game recently. They are regulars at the Woodbury YMCA's The Scene. (Bulletin photo by Mathias Baden)1 / 2
Henry Brown, 3, of Cottage Grove gets a hand from his tumbling teacher, Kelly Bloodgood, as he tries to walk backward on the balance beam at the YMCA. (Bulletin photo by Mathias Baden)2 / 2

The Woodbury YMCA offers 100 different group workout classes seven days a week, employs 25 full-timers and an average of 400 seasonal staff year round, a waterslide in the pool area, and 75 cardio machines to go with 15 strength machines on its fitness floor.

But it wasn't that long ago that the YMCA had humble beginnings in Woodbury.

"This is how the Y starts in most communities," said Heidi Bardwell, executive director at the Woodbury YMCA. "The community wants the Y."

In the late 1980s, a young city was growing and its leaders petitioned the Y in St. Paul, offering to lend financial support to the effort to bring the organization to Woodbury.

In 1990, the nonprofit YMCA started without a building. It provided swimming lessons at Woodbury High School, day camp and summer basketball. It had a 20-member advisory board, and a service area that includes Woodbury, Oakdale, Afton, Lake Elmo and Landfall.

The first fitness classes took place at Woodbury Community Church (now Trinity Presbyterian Church), with child care provided.

In 1993 the capital campaign was launched, in 1995 the building housing Southeast Area YMCA was partially opened, and in 1996 the second floor opened.

The first year, the YMCA consisted of a gym and a pool but no fitness center.

"It's hard to think of this space without it," Bardwell said.

In 1996, the Y's preschool started at Woodbury Baptist Church.

Offerings have continually evolved and expanded as the Woodbury area's needs shift on a regular basis. Years ago, the Y offered a climbing wall and racquetball, no longer emphases at the facility.

Now, group exercise and swimming lessons are two of the most popular uses at the facility, which along the way changed its name to Woodbury YMCA.

In 2006, the Y underwent a building expansion, adding a family locker room and bringing the preschool on site.

In a 2012 reconfiguration, a third group exercise room was added and the senior center and teen center were christened. More changes are on the way for The Scene and The Zone.

"Got lots of things on our wish list for that," Bardwell said.

Free coffee is available all day.

The fitness floor is busy and large, and its equipment is rented for adequate maintenance and constant updates.

"We always have the nicest, the newest, the most advanced," member service director Teresa Moes said.

Local partnerships continue, with recent exchanges involving Math and Science Academy and Woodbury Leadership Academy. Off-site programs include the Y Camp at Lake Elmo Park Reserve and various other parks. Y instructors also go to Landfall and Cimarron in Lake Elmo to teach water safety.

At the Y, summer is crazy but the other seasons are also busy, and group exercise offerings recently included yoga, relaxation, dance, zumba, cardio, bootcamp and tabata, among many other things — "a real variety," Bardwell said. Children ages 10 and younger can even take fitness classes. A family bootcamp occurs during the holidays. LiveStrong provides a one-year free membership for cancer survivors.

Classes change depending on member feedback and the Y association's constant looks at industry trends, Moes said.

Kids Stuff is drop-off child care and programming that includes playing, singing, reading and craft making.

Hardcore training occurs at the Y, all while maintaining the emphasis from the beginning — on family.

"We have it all," Moes said.

But the Y's biggest success since its inception is measured by growth to 2,900 membership units — about 10,000 members.

"We're welcoming and open," Bardwell said. "I don't think it's a program or a thing. But we've also done a good job of keeping up with the community — what's the next thing? We've done a good job of changing."

Advertisement