By Susan Gale
Many people in North Kingstown were unhappy when the YMCA decided to close its site on Post Road due to structural and cost reasons. So unhappy they took out an ad in the Providence Journal in protest. Many families felt they lost their local community center with the move.
That caught the eye of the Perlmans – the founders of Ocean State Job Lot (OSJL) – and they decided to do something about it. The result is the new nonprofit Ocean State Community Wellness Center, set to open on October 5, 2019, which will offer many programs for children and families in the former Y building. The Center is affiliated with OSJL’s Charitable Foundation.
Kids Care at the Ocean State Community Wellness Center
Initially, the Wellness Center will offer two versions of what they call Kids Care. Regular Kids Care, for ages 6 months to 11 years, will be a place where parents can do crafts and activities with their children and then leave their children there to go workout or take a class in another part of the building. This Kids Care is included in all memberships.
“It’s about enrichment with Kids Care,” said Kevin Brochu, Executive Director, noting that there will be no TVs in the room. “It will be writing, arts and crafts, low-level activity but based on games.” Brochu is a fitness and wellness writer and lecturer who has coached every level from high school to professionals.
The second version, called Active Kids Care, for ages 6-11, will cost extra but involve more planned physical activity (think American Ninja Warrior) designed to help kids develop physically but also improve communication.
“For the kids, they’ll get training and leadership opportunities so they can build confidence. We want to help them grow, not just become the world’s best baseball player, but if they find confidence or make a new friend, that’s success,” said Brochu.
Future offerings for children and families
Down the line, mostly likely in the spring, the Wellness Center will start offering more children’s programs such as sports performance camps and enrichment programs in areas such as STEM and culinary. The Center has an outdoor field space and Brochu said they plan to investigate opening up walking trails that have grown over.
Brochu sees the Center as being more than a workout spot. For instance, he envisions collaborating with a cheese-making business so parents will do an activity with their kids, then go workout or take a class while the kids learn how to make cheese.
“We’re going to offer programs that most don’t associate with a fitness center,” he said. “Then it’s great because it’s family time.”
Massive renovation to create a fitness center with extras
The former YMCA building is being renovated to be complete accessible to all with a wheelchair lift, ADA-compliant showers, and specialized workout equipment. The building makeover is extensive, including adding windows and glass doors to increase the amount of natural light and replacing the roof and HVAC system.
“There is not a place in the building that hasn’t been gutted and rebuilt,” said Brochu, adding that they have extended the usable space in the building by about 35%.
Besides the building, the staff will make a difference, he said.
“Everybody’s journey is completely different, but the coach is going to get them along in a safe, effective, and long-term way.” Brochu said. “We want to grow a family environment. You can do spin, step aerobics, yoga, anywhere. Our success is predicated on the people we have in here.”
The Center will offer all the areas you’d expect from a fitness center including aerobics, boxing, tai chi, karate, spin classes, yoga, acupuncture, massage therapy, and even Reiki and reflexology.
Within the building will be Specialized Orthopedic Physical Therapy who will collaborate with Center coaches to help members make the most of their workouts without hurting themselves and figure out what they can do if they are hurt. “It speeds up the process,” Brochu said.
Collaboration will also be a big part of the Center with groups such as Special Olympics, the Navy Seal Foundation, North Kingstown Recreation Department, and East Greenwich High School using the facilities.
Membership information for the Wellness Center
The Center expects to have full lists of classes on its website by September 15, 2019 and you can join now for a reduced membership. Contact Alex Madoian, Member Sales Manager, at 401-368-4646 or email@example.com. The Center is open to all, there are no residency requirements.
Susan Gale is CEO of Gale Force Communications and Publisher of Kidoinfo.com.