By GLORIA STRAVELLI
METUCHEN – The YMCA of Metuchen, Edison, Woodbridge and South Amboy (MEWSA) is celebrating 100 years of partnership with the local community and is marking the milestone with the launch of an innovative digital healthy living platform for members.
YMCA360 will launch Sept. 1 as a “seamless immersive experience available on mobile devices, TV and online,” the YMCA of MEWSA announced. “The new member benefit is in step with on-the-go lifestyles and puts healthy living at the center of 2021.”
According to the website, YMCA360 will provide access to more than 300 on-demand exercise classes and programs will be accessible 24/7, as well as live stream classes. New content will be added weekly.
“We are celebrating 100 years and a wonderful new service,” Rose Cushing, president and CEO of MEWSA, said in an interview.
“We are connecting our people, places and programs in a whole new way and giving our members the freedom to customize their health and fitness journey at our state-of-the-art facilities as well as their own living rooms.”
The new YMCA360 is in line with the YMCA pillars of youth development, healthy living and social responsibility and reflects the insights gained as a result of the pandemic, Cushing said.
“The pandemic has taught us many things,” she said, “one of which is we really have to make sure … that if there are opportunities for us to reach further into the community, that’s what we are trying to do at this time.
“So YMCA360 is our way of engaging our community, making sure they still have access to programming even if they’re confined to their homes, be it a pandemic, a snowstorm, an illness, caregiving for a family member. They’ll always have access to some programming to help them in spirit, mind and body.”
The local YMCA has its foundation in community service dating to its origins in 1921. According to the website, civic-minded local business owner Charles Edgar, proprietor of Edgar Clay and Mineral, provided the funding for the original building located at the corner of Lake Avenue and High Street in Metuchen.
“Mr. Edgar made it possible for the Y to be in the community,” Cushing said. “Mr. Edgar knew the Y would benefit the town so he set aside $75,000 in his estate to build a YMCA.
“Over the years, we’ve grown and changed with the times,” Cushing said, “but the warmth and support Mr. Edgar envisioned for our community remains alive today.”
Since its founding, the YMCA has expanded to two additional branches in Edison and South Amboy; added an outdoor pool, 10 childcare centers and 10 day camps; and secured more than 1,000 volunteers helping to provide services to over 35,000 friends and neighbors each year.
Features of the Y360 platform include group exercise classes, virtual gymnastics, basketball and soccer training, nutrition classes, art classes and more.
The new virtual and livestream service will be available through PC, television, Roku, Apple TV and mobile devices and will be provided free on a trial basis from Sept. 1 to Oct. 1. Following the trial period, YMCA360 will be included free with each full-facility membership.
According to the MEWSA website, “With YMCA360, healthy living for people of all ages and activity levels is possible anytime, anywhere. … More than 300 on-demand exercise classes and programs will be accessible 24/7, as well as livestream classes, to provide a mode to engage with the Y remotely and new content will be added weekly.”
“Our focus remains the community and how we can best support our community, can make it the best it can be,” Cushing said.
“That’s the beauty of a Y: it’s about community. We try to provide community supports so we have programming. We try to focus on people and what their needs are, and in doing that our goal is we don’t want to be the be-all and end-all for our community.
“We want people to support each other. It’s about building community and we’re here to support the community. Our goal is that a group of people come together and provide support for each other,” she said.