George Manos is looking forward to the opening of the Pictou County Wellness Centre in late 2012. The New Glasgow resident is a long-time charter member of the YMCA of Pictou County, which will make its home in the Wellness Centre when the facility opens.

“I’m looking forward to being at the new facility,” says Manos, who became a member of the YMCA when the building opened, in the late 1960s. “I’m all in favour of the move. The YMCA building has served its purpose, but it’s getting old.”  He says the Wellness Centre will be all-encompassing, with the YMCA facilities under one roof with two hockey rinks, community rooms and conference facilities. “There are so many positives about it,” says Manos.

Dave MacIntyre agrees. As the general manager of the YMCA, he’s excited about having a modern facility with state-of-the-art equipment.  “It will be all brand-new, which will enable us to attract a wider clientele,” he says. “We’ll be able to enhance and expand the current programs, and hopefully outreach to a larger portion of the community. It will make what we do now that much better with the new facility. We’ll have more to offer.”

The pool area will feature a six-lane, 25-metre lap pool, along with a separate leisure pool with slightly warmer water. This pool will have an area for younger children with sprays and toys, and a lazy river. A steam room will be located on the pool deck as well. MacIntyre says the multi-purpose pool area will accommodate fun for children, exercise for adults and accessibility for wheelchairs. “We’ll be able to have three different sets of programs going on at the same time,” he says, adding that lane swims will be able to be offered fairly constantly throughout the day while other programs are taking place.

The YMCA facilities will also feature a full-sized gymnasium and a fitness centre with cardio equipment and weights, as well as two separate studios for such activities as spin classes and yoga. The fitness centre will house new state-of-the-art equipment, which the YMCA is currently demoing, so members can get a feel of what they would like to see in the new facility.  MacIntyre says the YMCA currently offers 50 classes per week, for all ages from infants to seniors. These include resistance training, cardio, aqua and relaxation classes.  Like the current YMCA facility, the new building will accommodate all abilities and ages.

Melissa Wilson, director of membership services, says the new facility will provide the YMCA with more space to increase program opportunities. “We are currently investigating and planning what programs we can offer,” she says.  Among the new opportunities will be a licensed, full-day child care centre with spaces for 60 children from ages three months to five years.
The Wellness Centre will provide an ideal environment for a child’s development. With the unique combination of the indoor pools, gymnasium, rinks and the YMCA Playing to Learn curriculum, Pictou County children will have an exciting opportunity to learn and develop through a variety of stimulating activities, says Stella Cross, director of Child and Family Services for the YMCA of Pictou County.

The child care space will have its own dedicated entrance, as well as a fenced-in outdoor playground with a dedicated area for toddlers, a tricycle track and a hillside gazebo.  The YMCA will continue to offer child minding services for members using the facilities, which will be separate from the licensed child care centre. MacIntyre says he anticipates the move to the Wellness Centre will increase the membership base, improve services, and create the need for more staff.  “It’s great for the families of Pictou County – it’s a one-stop shop.”  For example, a family of five goes to the Wellness Centre because one child is playing hockey. The parents may decide to work out – the mother does a lane swim and the father goes to the fitness centre — and the other two children go to the child minding centre.

“We can’t even fathom how it’s going to impact the community until it opens,” says MacIntyre. “The facility and the opportunities it presents are unimaginable, what it will do for the future and everyday life. It will promote healthy living for the entire community.”  The YMCA will occupy 30 per cent of the 150,000 square feet of space in the two-storey building, which is being built on a 10-acre piece of land. Parking will be available for 733 vehicles.

Carol Dunn is a free-lance writer from New Glasgow.