YMCA reopens most Triangle locations, adding workouts to its duties helping students, caring for children
Posted September 9, 2020 4:32 a.m. EDT
Updated September 9, 2020 5:40 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — After being closed for 177 days because of the coronavirus pandemic, the YMCA of the Triangle reopened most of its local branches on Wednesday.
Some of the gyms have already opened their pools and have offered summer day camps and socially distanced, outdoor fitness classes. But YMCA members started working out inside for the first time since mid-March early Wednesday morning.
"It’s great to be back out and just for the facility to be open," said Dwain Bryant, who was exercising at the Downtown Durham YMCA.
The following YMCA locations opened Wednesday:
- Alexander Family YMCA
- A.E. Finley YMCA
- Chapel Hill - Carrboro YMCA
- Downtown Durham YMCA
- Kerr Family YMCA
- Kraft Family YMCA
- Lakewood YMCA
- Northwest Cary YMCA
- Poole Family YMCA
- Southeast Raleigh YMCA
- Taylor Family YMCA
"It’s been a long time coming, and we’re really excited," said Tony Campione, chief experience officer for the YMCA of the Triangle, said of the reopening.
The facilities have made numerous safety changes because of the pandemic, Campione said, such as taking everyone's temperature at the front door, installing enhanced air filtration systems, making some equipment off limits to improve social distancing, requiring masks whenever people aren't working out, setting up hand sanitizer stations and stepping up daily cleaning.
"As a Y, we mitigate risk every day when you think about the amount of lives in our care," he said.
In addition to providing some outdoor fitness options, area YMCAs also have served in recent months as child care facilities and as learning centers for students doing remote learning.
"Through the summer, we operated for thousands of children and families," Campione said. "Now, it’s just applying those same practices inside."
Space is divided up inside each facility so YMCA members and students don't get in each other's way, he said.
"We decided to join the Y for swimming over the summer," Courtney Eason said. "It’s actually been a life saver this entire summer. We’ve been able to take the kids swimming, get some exercise, get some sunshine and give them a shred of normalcy."
Both Eason and Bryant said they have no qualms about coronavirus when at the YMCA.
"Their safety measures for swim practice seem really great," Eason said. "They’re keeping everything kind of sectioned off for just the kids who are practicing, and they’re essentially swimming in bleach water with the chlorine."
Berry Oliver, branch manager at the A.E. Finley YMCA in Raleigh, said the organization had to cut half of its full-time staff because of the pandemic. The YMCA of the Triangle has gone from being a $90 million organization to a $65 million one for the start of the Oct. 1 fiscal year, he said.
“It’s been challenging," Oliver said. "We haven’t thrived, but we’ve existed. We want to make sure our doors stay open, whether it’s delivering food, offering child care, whatever it takes."
"We had a fair amount of our members put their membership on hold, but we also had a fair amount actually stay with us understanding that, at the Y, we are way more than just a gym and a fitness center," Campione said.
The YMCA branches that are open are operating 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays.
Other changes related to the pandemic include closing showers and locker rooms except for people showering before using indoor pools, banning pickup basketball games, limiting the size of group fitness classes and requiring members to bring their own towels and water bottles.
Opening dates for four other locations – Chatham YMCA, Hope Valley Farms YMCA, Ingram Family YMCA and YMCA at American Tobacco – have yet to be determined.