New functional fitness studio opens at YMCA in Niagara Falls
Folks squeezing in a workout at the Niagara Falls YMCA now have a whole new slew of exercise options, including climbing overhead bars and wailing away at heavy boxing bags with the introduction of the centre’s first functional fitness studio.
YMCA officials gathered in a former squash court inside the centre at McBain Community Centre in Montrose Road couldn’t resist doing some climbing, punching and pulling on pulleys as the new addition officially opened on Wednesday.
Functional fitness has been growing in popularity in recent years, with entire gyms devoted to it with what appears to be minimalist equipment such as kettle bells and large ropes.
Cathyann White, vice-president of health, fitness and aquatics for YMCA of Niagara, said the premise of functional fitness is that it uses your own body weight in conjunction with equipment or tools to replicate everyday body movements you do at home, at work or in sports.
“It improves strength, balance and flexibility,” she said.
The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., says while using various muscles in the upper and lower body at the same time, functional fitness exercises also emphasize core stability.
Functional exercises tend to use multiple joints and numerous muscles. Instead of only moving the elbows, for example, a functional exercise might involve the elbows, shoulders, spine, hips, knees and ankles, the Mayo Clinic says.
“This type of training, properly applied, can make everyday activities easier, reduce your risk of injury and improve your quality of life,” the clinic says.
Training may be especially beneficial as part of a comprehensive program for older adults to improve balance, agility and muscle strength, and reduce the risk of falls.
Krista Cienik, manager of the Niagara Falls YMCA centre, said the functional fitness studio opening is a second part of a major redo of the branch’s fitness facilities.
“At the end of August we did a complete refresh of our fitness centre. We have all new cardio equipment, we have a new, more open layout that allows members to work more fluidly. We have all new, high-tech equipment with TVs, Netflix, OnDemand.
“It’s bringing us more into the modern era,” said Cienik.
White said the improvements are part of the YMCA’s hefty investments in improving its various Niagara centres, which has included refurbished centres in Grimsby, Welland and St. Catharines in the past few years.
“It’s part of our ongoing commitment to revitalization,” she said. “We’ll continue to look at ways we can enhance programming for all ages.”
That includes new skills-based sports for kids, and revising aquatics standards, said White.
“We’re constantly trying to improve and that’s what this is part of. (We’re) just trying to enhance and modernize our approach to fitness programming to keep it fresh.”
Four new group fitness classes were also added recently, such as Zumba strong, Barre and yoga, said White.
Despite the sizeable investments in improvements, Cienik stressed that people or families with limited means shouldn’t think joining the YMCA will be beyond what they can afford. Because it’s a charitable agency, the YMCA offers financial assistance to anyone who shows need.
“Anybody who has a need, we can help them participate, which really separates us from our competitors. We do a quick assessment so we can find a rate that’s feasible for them so they can participate.”
Sam Cameron, Chico Anderi and Melody Cosby with the YMCA Niagara Falls branch try out some of the new equipment on the Precor Queenax training machine in the new functional fitness studio in the branch.