Yani Herrera pulls the new push/pull sled on Monday, July 8, 2024, at the SwedishAmerican Riverfront YMCA in downtown Rockford. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)
By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — Yani Herrera usually knows precisely what area of the gym she’s headed to when she starts her Monday-morning workout at the downtown YMCA.

This Monday morning, however, she had new space to explore and new equipment to use such as a push and pull sled, hip-thrust machine and Synergy 360 multifunctional training jungle.

“I already switched it up, and I think I needed it, too,” Herrera said. “I wasn’t stuck but I did need something different. I love that they have the new toys … the new tools for us to upgrade our exercise.”

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The YMCA of Rock River Valley on Monday unveiled a new two-story, 9,000-square-foot addition to its SwedishAmerican Riverfront YMCA, 200 Y Blvd., in downtown.

The new cardio and strength-training space opened at 5 a.m. Monday following nine months of construction.

The Y said the expansion was needed to alleviate overcrowding at the downtown branch after a significant increase in membership.

“Our cardio and weight rooms are one of the highest used areas in the Y and we noticed members were having to wait to use equipment,” said Rachel Robinson, executive director of the downtown branch. “We are excited to offer new amenities to help motivate and inspire members to achieve their health and wellness goals.”

Callie Hunter deadlifts on Monday, July 8, 2024, inside the new addition at the SwedishAmerican Riverfront YMCA in downtown Rockford. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)

The strength and cardio rooms have mostly new equipment, including 50 pieces of cardio equipment, a functional training space on turf, additional benches and squat racks with new bumper plates and platforms.

“I love the new equipment … it was needed, a lot,” said James Eskilson, noting the additional squat racks, seated calf-raise machine and Synergy 360 system with a punching bag and multiple other connections. “It’s really a good asset to gym culture.”

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The Y also added EGYM smart circuit machines, a training system that’s intended to help members take the guesswork out of exercise. The system automatically adjusts to the user’s custom settings for weight, range of motion and cardiovascular exercise. You can be guided through a full-body workout in as little as 20 minutes on the system.

James Eskilson works out on the battle ropes on Monday, July 8, 2024, at the SwedishAmerican Riverfront YMCA in downtown Rockford. The Y opened its two-story addition on Monday. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)

The $3 million addition is part of the first phase of the YMCA’s $15-$20 million capital campaign. The project was funded with multiple donations, including funding from lead donors Rick and Lana Engen. The work was led by Schmeling Construction and 1919 Architects.

“Capital campaigns are more a marathon than a sprint, and that has been very true in the case of our association-wide improvements,” said Michelle Gorham, the Y’s chief advancement officer. “This exciting fitness expansion is one of the many meaningful projects that will begin to take shape as funds are available to complete them, including additional work at the SwedishAmerican Riverfront YMCA and a significant renovation at Good Shepherd YMCA, our new location expected to open this fall on North Rockton Avenue.”

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The expansion was necessary to hep curtail the wait for weights at the Y. Herrera, inbetween sets of pushing and pulling a weighted sled across the new turf training space, said she expects to see membership continue to grow with the addition.

“It was very-much needed,” Herrera said. “This is the heart of Rockford, everybody loves to come walk and run the river even if you don’t come to the Y. Now that everybody know the Y has expanded its space, I know new people will come.”

Noah Walker does shoulder raises on the Synergy 360 multifunctional machine on Monday, July 8, 2024, at the SwedishAmerican Riverfront YMCA in downtown Rockford. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)
The YMCA of Rock River Valley opened its two-story, 9,000-square-foot addition on Monday, July 8, 2024, in downtown Rockford. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)

This article is by Kevin Haas. Email him at khaas@rockrivercurrent.com or follow him on X at @KevinMHaas or Instagram @thekevinhaas and Threads @thekevinhaas

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