With the help of a $300,000 grant, the YMCA of Callaway County Friday opened an new fitness center annex on the campus of Fulton State Hospital.
Participating in a grand opening celebration Friday morning were Matt Gowin, president of the YMCA of Callaway County; Felix Vincenz, chief operating officer of the Missouri Division of Comprehensive Psychiatric Services; Fulton Mayor Charlie Latham; Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane; and members of the Kingdom of Callaway Chamber of Commerce ambassadors.
Gowin praised the support of the Fulton community for YMCA efforts, including assistance with the new 24-hour YMCA Annex. "We hope to reach more people in the community," Gowin said.
Vincenz, who was superintendent and CEO of the Fulton State Hospital from 1999 to 2006, said so far more than 10 percent of the workforce at the Fulton State Hospital have signed up as members of the YMCA so they can use the facility.
Mayor Latham, a former Fulton police officer and chief, said as a former shift worker he appreciates a place to go to exercise when not working. Latham said the city of Fulton is also partnering with the YMCA to create a walking trail between Fulton High School and the YMCA main facility on Wood Street.
Rep. Riddle said she is proud to be a resident of Callaway County where people work together to accomplish great things. "This is a perfect example where the YMCA and Fulton State Hospital are working together to benefit each other and the community," Riddle said. "I'm excited for people who don't work a regular 8 to 6 job who now have a place to exercise," Riddle said.
Justin Holliday, YMCA wellness and community development director, said the new 6,000-square-foot facility was made available by Fulton State Hospital. It is located in an unused portion of the cafeteria for the hospital complex. The annex is located in a separate building in back of the main Fulton State Hospital administration building. Parking is available just outside the annex.
Holliday said in exchange for Fulton State Hospital providing the building, employees of the state agency are provided a reduced membership rate.
The equipment in the center was purchased from a fitness center that went out of business at Gerald in the St. Louis area.
"We go a lot of good equipment at a super price," Holliday said. Many of the members of the YMCA staff worked on finishing the floors and moving the equipment, Holliday added.
He said the YMCA received a $300,000 three-year grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health, which was created with money from the breakup of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Missouri. The foundation serves the same area of Missouri that was served by the former company. The grant was used to help pay costs associated with the new YMCA annex as well as proposed walking trails. The grant request was written by Patty Miller, executive director of the YMCA of Callaway County.
The YMCA main facility continues to operate and all members are also eligible to use the new 24-hour annex. "This will relieve some of the overcrowding at our Wood Street main YMCA building," Holliday said.
Holliday said a single adult membership at the YMCA is $16.50 a month. A family membership is $37.50 a month. High school and college students pay $16.50. Employees of the Fulton State Hospital have a special lower rate because the building was made available to the YMCA in exchange for a lower membership rate of $10 a month for each employee.
In addition to weight lifting machines and barbells, the fitness center has a full array of exercise equipment, including treadmills and equipment to exercise arms and legs.
A back room is used for aerobic workout classes. It has a specially cushioned floor tiles, fans, radio and mirrors. The facility also has a break area with a television and sofas to give people a chance to relax before heading back to work.
A locker room is available to members. They need to provide their own locks while using them. Two private baths, each with a shower, are available. Since the door locks, it is possible to change and shower in total privacy.
Holliday said the facility is open 24 hours a day. It is checked by hospital security officers on a regular basis and there are numerous security cameras. Two red phones in the workout area are available that will ring direct to the security center if anyone has a medical or other emergency to report.
Debbie Hurlburt, an accountant at Fulton State Hospital, said she uses the fitness equipment for strength training and she is involved in a health and wellness program.
"The fitness center here opened about three weeks ago to Fulton State Hospital employees," Hurlburt said.
Because she works at the hospital, she was able to take advantage of a reduced cost YMCA membership to use the YMCA's annex at the hospital.
Hurlburt said she uses the new workout facility three times a week during her lunch hour or before or after work.
"I'm feeling a lot better now that I have started to exercise frequently. I'm delighted to have this wonderful facility so close to work," Hurlburt said.
Leo Parungao, a forensic rehabilitation specialist at Fulton State Hospital, said he works nights and greatly appreciates and opportunity to exercise during the day. "Exercising now is part of my regular routine," Parungao said. He's starting with the treadmill and intends to work his way up to lifting weights.
Bryan Beanland of New Bloomfield, personal training coordinator at the YMCA, is instructing members in proper workout techniques. Beanland has special qualifications because he is the world's power lifting champion in the 198-pound class of the World United Power Lifting Assn. He won the world championship during recent competition in Slovenia, a nation was formed after the collapse of the Yugoslav federation.
Beanland advises clients who have not been exercising regularly to start slowly and work their way up to lifting weights.
"The most important thing in weight lifting is to make sure that the form is perfect. When starting to lift weights this is especially important to avoid injury," Beanland said. The center has a Smith machine as a safety measure to prevent someone from dropping a barbell.
"We increase the lifting program gradually as they become better," Beanland said.