Downtown Windsor’s oldest gym is on the move

Ryan Blevins
By Ryan Blevins October 21, 2016 13:48

Downtown Windsor’s oldest gym is on the move

By Ryan Blevins



One of Windsor’s oldest organizations is getting a facelift.


Members of the downtown YMCA, previously located on Victoria Avenue. experienced the organization’s last day on site on Oct. 13.

Approaching its 150th anniversary in Windsor, the YMCA is moving to the newly renovated Central Park Athletics complex. Things haven’t always run through Victoria Avenue. The site the original YMCA was located at in 1868 is now a series of lofts. The Windsor YMCA’s history runs deep. The Windsor Y was one of the founding organizations in the creation of the United Way of Windsor. Three buildings have been home to the Windsor’s YMCA, including the Riverside Drive. Central Avenue will be the fourth.

YMCA Western Ontario CEO Andrew Lockie understands the history behind the downtown location but stays behind the decision to move.

“I recognize completely that the change will require some adjustment, and we get that, but our priority remains serving as many people as we can,” said Lockie

Approximately five years ago, the ball got rolling on the move. After investing $4.6 million in leasehold improvements and furnishings to what was formerly the Ice Park, the building became the obvious choice for the new location. According to Lockie, the YMCA Western Ontario operates under a $32 million annual budget, spread to centres from Windsor to Woodstock. Even more impressive is the organization’s ability to stay under budget and not use any public money for the renovations.

At its peak. The local YMCA had roughly 3,500 members. Those numbers have decreased over the years. On the last day at the Victoria location, around 350 members remained. While these numbers do not seem to warrant a large investment, the YMCA has high hopes for their new site. According to YMCA Western Ontario Director of Marketing and Communications Anne Baxter, the Y is projecting over 5,000 members to be enrolled. They have a long way to go, as only 600 members are currently enrolled. What is reassuring is the near 200 confirmed patrons transferring to the new location.

One member of the Victoria Avenue YMCA who is uncertain about his future as a member is former St. Clair College student Dylan Fremlin.

“I used the gym because it was close to St. Clair (Downtown Campus). Now I’m not sure where I’ll go and where I’ll get a better price,” said Fremlin.

Fremlin, along with the other undecided downtown members, may be swayed by what the new facility has to offer. Member of the Central Park Athletics complex YMCA will be provided a series of modern amenities, many of which were not offered before. The swimming pool is making its return at the Central Avenue YMCA location after being shut down many years ago. Also available will be yoga, cycling, boot camp, total body resistance classes and a wide variety of improved weight lifting equipment.

“People are excited and impressed at the quality of programs, equipment and facilities,” said Baxter.
The grand opening for the newly located YMCA in the renovated Central Park Athletics complex is scheduled for Nov. 12.

Ryan Blevins
By Ryan Blevins October 21, 2016 13:48

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