The goal is to improve the overall health of the community
By Mary Beth Roach
The YMCA’s Northside Women’s Wellness Center, which opened this past January, is not only a fitness and health facility for female members on the Syracuse’s northside, but its creation represents a true collaborative and grassroots effort.
The center is on the ground floor of a mixed-use building at 511 Butternut St., at North McBride Street, offering women a fitness space with circuit strength machines, cardio equipment and free weights, a locker room, a group exercise studio and a child-care area, which is expected to open soon. There is also a small parking lot on the side of the building.
“It’s a comfortable place to come in the community,” said Kendra Brown, membership and program director at the center.
Enhancing that comfort is the sitting area, furnished with tables and chairs, a fireplace and television, and the facility has wi-fi access.
Currently, the center is offering yoga and dance-fit classes in the exercise studio and representatives from Planned Parenthood are there on Fridays to offer members and non-members assistance with STD testing, pregnancy testing and in setting up a primary care doctor, according to Brown.
In addition to the fitness aspect, the Y plans to expand health services in partnership with local entities, but that expansion has been slow due to the pandemic, said Cheryl Pusztai, district vice president, City District, YMCA of Central New York.
“We want to be able to use the site as a central location, a comfortable location to bring partners in that can provide exposure to health and wellness services,” she said.
That sense of partnership is at the core of the center’s creation.
Several years ago, St. Joseph’s Health, an anchor in the northside community, received a grant to address health needs in that part of Syracuse, which has a very diverse community. They reached out to Northside UP, the Northside Urban Partnership, which focuses on improving the health and the economy of that area, M.S. Hall and Associates, a local healthcare consultant, and other neighborhood advocacy groups to assist in the endeavor.
The partners put together a focus group and women from the community visited area Y facilities to use equipment and provide feedback as to what they’d like to see in their wellness center. It was at this point, the Y joined in on the initiative, Pusztai explained.
“It was obvious early on that the best way to improve the overall community and the families was to address the health of the female in the household because the women are the determining factor of what happens in the home,” she said.
The center is open to Y members, and it is offering a two-week trial period, so women interested in checking it out can visit the location, get a tour and use the facility for 14 days.
For the Y, Pusztai explained, the Northside Center provides “another location that any YMCA female member from across the association can participate in, so it adds another value to our members. It also allows us to expand and provide services to the community that we were not previously directly serving, and it also us to expand our partnership to work with others to improve the overall health of the community.”
For more information and/or to schedule a tour, visit https://ymcacny.org/locations/northside-womens-wellness-center or call the center at 315-991-4300. Its hours of operation are 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 5:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday. It is closed Saturday and Sunday.
For information on joining and to see if you might quality for financial assistance, visit https://ymcacny.org/membership.
Photo: Kendra Brown, membership and program director, left, and Naosha Hendrix, membership representative.