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Bigger Is Better At This Sprawling New YMCA


The YMCA in Lethbridge, Alberta was once housed in a 50-year-old downtown building that needed a sizable amount of repairs to give it a facelift. Instead of a complete overhaul to the old 37,000-square-foot facility, the YMCA partnered with the City of Lethbridge and moved into a gleaming new space on the west end of the Canadian city of nearly 100,000.

The massive 256,000-square-foot Cor Van Raay YMCA at ATB Centre opened in May, 2019 and the results have been impressive.

“The response from community has been outstanding,” said Jennifer Petracek-Kolb, the CEO of the YMCA of Lethbridge. “We have grown from 1800 members (our last count on roll prior to our move) to 7400 members in 12 weeks, and from 45 staff (most part time) to over 200 staff."

The wide mix of fitness equipment appeals to the large exerciser demographic that the YMCA hopes to draw. The majority of members are regular exercisers or those new to fitness, but there’s also a functional fitness area that appeals to more high-performance workouts.

“The layout advances users through the space as they become more comfortable - so beginners at one end and more advanced at the other,” added Petracek-Kolb. “The reception area is central to provide support to the wide range of users as necessary.”

Signature Series Lethbridge

The large open spaces of the Cor Van Raay YMCA allow for plenty of training options, but also manage to create an inviting feel that YMCAs are known for. The equipment mix ensures that there’s something to appeal to every exerciser.

“People appreciate the high ceilings and airy feeling, and choice and versatility of equipment, including studio equipment,” explained Petracek-Kolb. “We have four studios in the space for group programming - from yoga to group cycling to TRX, and anything in between. In addition to all the fitness pieces through there are other rooms that allow for a ‘one stop shop’ for families, including a 50,000-square-foot aquatics center, six gymnasiums, an indoor play space, child minding and all-day licensed child care, programs for all ages, and a Jugo Juice cafe.”

See the impressive Cor Van Raay YMCA in action. 

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