Even during its renovation last year, the Wilton Family YMCA never closed its doors; it simply shifted programs and amenities (and even the front door) from one side of the building to another to let members continue to use the facility.

But in March, safety concerns about the spread of COVID-19 did force the Y to close, only two months after the ribbon had been cut on the newly refurbished fitness center and building.

Now that (still new) fitness center will be reopening on Saturday, June 20–albeit with some stricter guidelines and rules for safety procedures in place, thanks to the coronavirus.

With guidance from local health officials, government leaders, Y-USA representatives, and subject matter experts from the Y’s Norwalk Hospital Healthy Living Collaborative, the Riverbrook Regional YMCA Reopening Task Force developed a plan they call, “For A Safer Us: A Reopening Roadmap.”

Critical for a facility as large and as multifunctional as the Wilton YMCA, the plan outlines the COVID-19 mitigation strategies that, according to Y materials, “represent[s] hundreds of hours of research and many thoughtful, informed discussions about how best to resume operations and safely serve members and program participants.”

“The Wilton Family YMCA has served our community for more than 45 years, during which we have made it through many challenging times together, none perhaps as impactful for our community and our Y as this COVID health crisis,” said Robert McDowell, CEO of the Riverbrook Regional YMCA. “We are thrilled to begin reopening our facilities, welcoming back our members and the community, and getting back to what we do best–helping everyone reach their full potential.”

In preparation for reopening the Wilton Family YMCA has been following guidelines from health experts and local officials to ensure all components of facilities, including fitness equipment and areas, aquatic centers, visitor areas, and office spaces, are cleaned and sanitized to meet standards for hygiene and safety. The Y has also modified policies and programs to facilitate safe social/physical distancing practices.

“When we closed our facilities in March, we did so to protect the health and well-being of all our staff, volunteers, members and participants. As we now reopen our facilities, we do so with that same commitment to keeping everyone who enters our doors safe,” McDowell added.

The first phase of the reopening will include:

  • the new 6,000 square foot fitness center
  • Group X and Spin classes in the gymnasium and outside
  • 50-meter pool for lap swimming, swim team, family rec and summer camp
  • splash pad
  • paddle tennis
  • athletic training center for personal training, reformer, and small group training
  • gymnastics center for team and camp
  • Camp Gordyland
  • virtual engagement programming for the Y’s Special Needs, Diabetes Prevention and Smoking Cessation programs.

Among the modifications and requirements the Wilton Family YMCA is adopting:

  • an employee will take the temperature of anyone who enters the building and ask health screening questions
  • several additional hand sanitizing stations have been installed around the building
  • members will be required to clean all equipment before and after use
  • facility capacity and class size will be limited
  • members will need to make a reservation before visiting the Y
  • members are asked to bring their own equipment, a water bottle from home and their own mask
  • members should wear masks as they enter and exit the building, but do not need to wear them while swimming or working out
  • the fitness center as been set up to allow 12 feet of social distancing
  • reduced hours during this phase of reopening to allow additional time for cleaning and sanitizing (including fogging and the use of an electrostatic sprayer).

Additional information is available on the Y’s website.

“We are so excited to reopen our facilities to our community.  More importantly, however, our Y has always been more than a building.  Our Y is about people–people from all backgrounds who come together to improve their lives, nurture their families and strengthen their community,” McDowell said. “We are so incredibly grateful to the people who have stayed with us throughout these challenging times.  You were here for your community when it needed it most, and we remain here for you.”