Facility Profile - November 2011
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A Culture That Builds Strength
South Shore YMCA, Hanover Branch in Hanover, Mass.

By Dawn Klingensmith

The search led to Cybex International and Technogym, both of which manufacture exercise equipment that met the Y's requirements. Cybex makes a line of wheelchair-accessible machines that also happen to accommodate shorter users, Bunnell said, and Technogym makes a line of equipment that uses pneumatic resistance so there's no danger posed by heavy plates.

Catering to all body types, "Cybex is committed, first and foremost, to producing equipment that is both effective and safe, and biomechanically engineered for optimal results with minimal stress on the joints," said Al Rousseau, vice president of national accounts for Cybex.

As is evidenced by its success, the Hanover YMCA has much more to offer besides a kid-friendly workout facility. In 2002, the Hanover Expansion Program added an indoor aquatic center with a lap pool and recreational pool with a slide. Other new services included a child care center, family locker rooms, a whirlpool, tennis courts, a teen center and community meeting rooms.

The Y also has a robust arts and humanities program, thanks to a generous donor who had heard the South Shore described as a cultural wasteland and decided to spring into action. As a result, a $2 million performance space called the Emilson Arts Pavilion opened last year.

This is a Y that is successful by any standard. But what's more impressive, "it's become extremely successful in just 10 or 11 years," Bunnell said.

The Youth Strength and Cardiovascular Program is just one example of the Y's success, serving as inspiration to other facilities that are confronting the nationwide childhood obesity epidemic. "Since schools started to eliminate physical education, and parks and recreation departments have such thin budgets to work with, we felt we needed to step up and provide fitness opportunities," Bunnell said.

But more than access to capital or finding the right equipment, it was his team's commitment to integration and accessibility that made the program a success, Bunnell said.

In fact, he concluded, "It's not a program. It's a culture."


South Shore YMCA: www.ssymca.org

Cybex International: www.cybexintl.com

Technogym: technogym.com