The long wait has come to an end: the Laurier Brantford YMCA is set to open early September . . . and there are a lot of reasons to be excited for it.
The opening date is rumoured to be the 14th. Until then, we can get excited about the 18 thousand square feet of workout space and everything else the new facility has to offer.
“It [the YMCA] has blown my expectations out of the water,” said Megan Jacklin, Laurier Brantford Manager of Sport and Recreation. “It is so big, so spacious, so bright, so inviting and full of opportunity.”
One of the most highlighted and anticipated features in the building is the 25 m pool. Swimming is an opportunity that Laurier Brantford hasn’t been able to offer to Laurier Brantford students before.
“I’m most excited about the pool,” said Rachel Reid, a fourth year Health Administration student who will be working at the new building as a membership associate.
The pool will offer mainly lane swims and swimming lessons. Along with the pool is an exerted swim tank, hot tub and sauna.
A fuller group fitness schedule is also new to Laurier Brantford Athletics and Recreation this year. There will now be over 30 hours a week of fitness classes as opposed to having a few classes offered per day.
To go with the new fitness scheduling is more space for the classes. There are three fitness studios: two multipurpose and one for cyclefit.
“There are two levels of fitness equipment and then studios throughout the building as well, which I can’t wait to use to achieve my own fitness goals throughout the year,” said Reid.
Fitness schedules will be released on a month-to-month basis so students, YMCA members and the public can provide feedback regularly.
Also changing slightly is the intramural program. Most of Laurier Brantford’s intramural sports will be integrated with adult recreation leagues.
Intramural leagues will be created after trying out open gym for a month and seeing which sports are popular among patrons. Open gym sports include basketball, badminton, dodegball, volleyball and pickleball.
A dodgeball league for first years and ice hockey are the two intramural sports that don’t require a trial month and will consist of just Laurier students.
With the new gymnasium space comes an excellent opportunity to host more extramural competitions. This year, in addition to the annual ice hockey tournaments the campus hosts at Wayne Gretzky Centre, Laurier Brantford will host tournaments in dodgeball, volleyball and basketball at the YMCA. More information will be released at the end of September.
With all these new sporty opportunities arising, one might think they have to be athletic in order to appreciate the facility. However, there is a lounge where students can hang out or study – no physical activity required.
Even obtaining a job in the new building is an opportunity made for everyone. Students can apply to work jobs such as a cleaner, childcare worker, health and wellness coach, fitness instructor, front desk staff member or lifeguard.
“There will constantly be employment opportunities available in this space,” said Jacklin.
Wilkes House hired seasonally, but the YMCA hires throughout the year since most positions are not contracted.
“I’m looking forward to being able to help students, as well as the community, to start their journey through the YMCA,” said Reid.
Some roles still only hire seasonally, including Laurier student leader positions, intramural referees and Laurier event staff.
Students in Concurrent Education and Youth and Children Studies might be particularly interested in working in the YMCA’s childcare sector.
“The child minding is an awesome opportunity for students to come in and work with kids on a regular basis,” Jacklin said.
Laurier students who have a child are allowed to use the child minding service for free.
Greeting these new features and changes is exciting, but some students haven’t yet forgotten about our current, humble workout facility.
A big question floating through the student body has been: “What will happen to Wilkes Gym?”
As of Sept. 1, Wilkes is a bookable space for Laurier students and groups to host events. In the later future, the upstairs might become offices for faculty.
Over the past two years, the campus got more use out of Wilkes than most people were expecting. Many students – especially upper years – are aware of the construction delay the Laurier Brantford YMCA experienced two years ago.
Indigenous artifacts were discovered all over the foundation where the Laurier Brantford YMCA was being built, pushing the YMCA project back a year so the artifacts could be dug up.
“Even though it was disappointing, it was ground-breaking,” Jacklin said.
Approximately 400,000 artifacts were found, with some dating back to before Christ. The event was one of the largest archaeological discoveries in North America.
Laurier played a role, as there were Golden Hawks who worked on the excavation.
There will be a revolving display in the new building to showcase some of the findings.
Another ornament included on display in the building is the time capsule. One member from each of the Laurier Brantford YMCA’s committees contributed. The items will be revealed 25 years from now.
There are many upcoming opportunities to learn more about the Laurier Brantford YMCA. On September 5 between 3:00 and 6:00 pm first years can meet at Wilkes to get VIP tours of the YMCA.
For the public and any students not in first year, there is a community open house and guided tours on September 14 between 6:00 and 8:00 pm. For more of an “event,” come on September 15 from 2:00 – 4:00 when there will be activities, prizes and food.
Laurier Brantford Athletics and Recreation will provide students with more information about tours and the new facility at the O-Week Info Fair on Sept. 6 from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm and at the Get Involved Fair on Sept. 7 from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.