STEUBENVILLE - A year can bring a lot of changes, and, in the case of the YMCA Wellness Center at the St. John Arena, the changes are ongoing.
The center, a joint project of the East Liverpool YMCA and Trinity Health System, is marking its first anniversary with a community celebration and open house on Tuesday.
The facility will be open for community visits from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
ARENA TO Y — Cheerleaders take part in a camp on the main floor at the YMCA Wellness Center at St. John Arena. The YMCA of the East Liverpool Area and Trinity Health System joined to put the YMCA into the former arena a year ago. The YMCA celebrates its first year of operation with a community celebration and open house on Tuesday. - Paul Giannamore
From noon to 2 p.m., there will be hot dogs and refreshments, and a bounce house for children will be set up outdoors, weather permitting, or on the arena floor.
WOGH-FM will conduct a remote broadcast, and there will be games and giveaways, YMCA officials said.
The center has achieved rapid growth, with 2,800 members joining in the first year.
The conversion of the former community arena into full-service community center and exercise facility is taking place in phases.
The most recent modifications include new locker rooms on the arena's upper floor to serve patrons. Work is progressing on turning the arena's former west bleacher area into a new wellness center and program area with 5,000 square feet in an air-conditioned enclosure overlooking the arena's main floor.
Facility director Michelle Wilson said construction on the new area should take about three months.
"It's all going better than we expected," she said of the first year of the YMCA at the arena. "Especially at this time of year, we're not experiencing any fallout in usage over the summer. Usually, it can be a slow time. People are already renewing their annual memberships. It's been very interesting to see how fast the year has passed and progress has been happening."
The facility includes a modern air-conditioned cardio exercise area, a large weight room, an exercise studio, a spinning class area, as well as a padded walking track around the arena's upper perimeter and the main arena floor, currently covered in football turf from the former indoor football team that occupied the arena.
Long-range planning includes eventual installation of a multi-functional floor, with space for volleyball and basketball courts, or use for lacrosse and softball and baseball.
The YMCA's presence in the community continues to grow, too. Recently, Eastern Gateway Community College announced that its wellness center in the Pugliese Center off John Scott Highway will be operated by the YMCA of East Liverpool.
A new website, www.ymcanet.org, has debuted with information on the many programs available.
The YMCA Wellness Center at the St. John Arena is open Monday through Thursdays from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Fridays from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.