It's a cold, windy day in Roanoke, but the bicycle riders at the Kirk Family YMCA are miles away from Roanoke cycling through the terrain in Utah and California. It's all part of the new virtual experience members can engage in while exercising.
Trainer Katie Carroll jumped on a bike in the new Wellness Center at the YMCA to demonstrate. "Today I feel like need to go somewhere spectacular so we're going to go to Utah," Carroll said, as she touched a video screen in front of her.
As Carroll cycles video of Utah plays in front of her. As she rides up a hill, the tension on the bicycle's pedals becomes tougher so that it matches the virtual terrain in front of her. The screen also displays facts about the locations she's passing on her virtual ride. "So the cool thing about this is it doesn't get boring," Carroll said.
Other video features should also help ease boredom for exercisers in this new wellness center. Some exercise bicycles are equipped with video games that also coordinate to the amount of muscle power the rider uses. In one game, riders can go after coins and green dragons. Another game takes riders into a bicycle race where they're competing against other cyclists.
The new equipment is part of the Kirk Family YMCA's brand new wellness center that opened to members Friday morning. It more than doubles the space of the old exercise area and adds more than 70 new pieces of exercise equipment.
The reaction from members so far has been positive, according to Branch Director Nancy Brattain. "They love it they are so excited. They're like kids in the candy shop," Brattain said.
The new center also stays on course with the YMCA's mission, which Brattain said is to make a healthy lifestyle available to everyone. "We're here for the whole community. This is about expanding wellness for everyone in our community," Brattain said. "We don't turn anyone down for lack of financial resources."
The wellness center is phase one of the $1.3 million dollar renovation that began last July. Phase two will be a renovated group exercise room and phase three is a new youth area that will include an XRCADE, which simply means video games that incorporate exercise. Phase two and three should be complete this spring.