We recently caught up with Health and Wellness Program Director Desiree Pearce to discuss how the renovations of existing space at the Sheridan County YMCA can add to the already expansive offerings, how COVID-19 has impacted the facility and more. Here’s a look at what she had to say.

Question: What changes has COVID-19 brought to the health and wellness programs at the Y?

Pearce: One of the biggest changes is the amount of space that is needed to accommodate the equipment we have.

We have had to increase the amount of staff so we can increase our sanitation practices.

Our 5:10 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday group cycling classes were having constant overflow because we had to decrease the capacity of our room from 20 down to 11 so we could accommodate the required distance of our bikes in our cycling studio. Because of this we added 5:10 a.m. classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays in hopes of reaching members that want to come.

All members are asked to sanitize all pieces of equipment before and after use. Staff go through often to do a more thorough cleaning.

What physical changes have occurred at the Y to accommodate COVID-19 protocols?

Pearce: We have spread as much movable equipment as we possibly can 10 feet apart to comply with the health orders. Because of this, we’ve had to adjust our normal space usage and share with other program areas. For example, we used to hold the majority of our group exercise classes in the aerobic gym (aka, mirrored room). These classes are now moved into Gym 1.

We have spread our cardio equipment upstairs between the cardio room and the aerobic gym.

Our website has links to virtual classes for those that want to remain active but don’t feel safe coming into the facility

What reassurances can you give to folks regarding attending classes at the YMCA amid COVID-19?

Per the county mandate, members are asked to wear masks as they travel through the Y until they get to the destination where they become actively engaged in exercise and are also required to clean their equipment after use. Most of our rooms are set up for adequate social distancing of 6-10 feet and our capacity is limited with staff constantly counting members in each area so spaces don’t become overcrowded.

Our staff clean all equipment throughout the day and our overnight custodial crew do a diligent job of sanitizing the entire facility every night when no one is in the building. All staff throughout the building are required to wear a mask.

How will the renovation of the old space improve and enhance a visit to the Y?

Pearce: The greatest change will be the space, not just floor space but ceiling height as well.

Equipment will be required to be spaced for ADA compliance, which will allow wheelchair access to equipment.

All Health & Wellness spaces are projected to be one level so regardless of one’s ability, they will be able to access the entire area. This is exciting because we have quite a large population currently that can’t access the upstairs so they have no idea what it looks like or what is available. (The exception to this is the track, it will remain in its current location)

What do you think is the least known, but coolest health and wellness program offered at the Y?

Our Functional Electrical Stimulation Bikes — These bikes benefit people with neurological impairments including spinal cord injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, brain injury and other conditions.

The FES bike sends electrical impulses that are delivered through electrodes on your skin to stimulate your lower peripheral nerves which evoke a muscle contraction. The bike can stimulate over 40 muscle groups on one or both sides of your body depending on your unique needs. The system provides a safe and effective way for weak or paralyzed muscles to undergo progressive resistive exercise in order to experience a number of therapeutic and positive health outcomes such as a:

• reduction in muscle atrophy

• reduction in muscle spasms

• improvement in local circulation

• maintenance or increase in range of motion

• facilitation of muscle re-education.

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