Spotlight — Institutions

Taking Care of Your Body

Downtown’s YMCA

You aren’t gettin the but you want by sitting on the one you have. — Anonymous.

The Y’s Blog offers a comprehensive fitness center, outfitted to deliver healthy living, that is equal parts mind, body, and spirit. “Bring wellness, fitness, tranquility, and community under one roof because a workout regime should suit YOUR needs, YOUR schedule, and YOUR social life.”

Good. To find out if the professed goals matched reality, Downtown News asked the Y’s Executive Director, Jessica Wagner, if a young realtor could join them for a month and report back to you, the readers. Game on, she said.

How did it go?

Young Realtor: Not bad. I enjoyed basketball. Basketball was an exciting part of the gym. It’s nice to have a good indoor court. That was fun.

Jessica Wagner: We started a league and it has been a huge success. Our goal was to get 8 teams, with 7 people per team. We ended up with ten. That’s some seventy people playing basketball on our court every week. Very amazing.

Downtown Miami YMCA. 200 S. BISCAYNE BLVD, STE 15A 
 MIAMI, FL 33131. 15th FLOOR ANNEX BUILDING. For further information, visit Website. Photo courtesy of the Downtown YMCA.

DN: Who organizes these teams? Are they representing local corporations, or just individuals coming together?

JW: These are friends coming together and groups within a company. Professionals working in the area and residents. Chase and Genius have teams. Some companies actually pay for employees to participate in sports. It’s about wellness, camaraderie, and team building. But the majority is just individuals that come with a group of friends.

DN: How much does it cost to join the league? What are the terms?

JW: Games are once a week for eight weeks. If they make the playoffs, it is 12 weeks total. The fee is $89 for members and $109 for non-members for the entire tournament. It’s very reasonable.

DN: Besides basketball, what can you tell us about your month’s experience?

YR: The convenience of having a place just a couple blocks from your house, a place to where you can walk, kind of getting a little warm up walking over here, then have a good workout, and grab a bite to eat on the way back. That is a good aspect of joining this gym. I wanted to join Equinox last year, but I just didn’t want to have to go over the bridge, the commute to Brickell. It’s really the convenience factor.

DN: You have been to other gyms in downtown, why choose this?

YR: The proximity is number one. Second, it’s affordable. The only other gym that I consider equivalent is Equinox. It’s at least one hundred dollars more a month.

DN: How much is the membership here?

JW: $75 a month.

The Gym

Photo courtesy of the YMCA.

YR: The equipment area has two or three of every type of weight, so you always have what you’re looking for. The machines are well organized, so you can do your various workouts pretty smoothly and can move back and forth between machines without conflict. There are enough machines so you can move around easily. And all the machines are brand new because the gym is new. The locker rooms are clean. That’s a big factor for me.

JW: People really like to have clean locker rooms. That’s been important for our members. We invested a lot on those locker rooms so business professionals can shower and go back to work.”

JW: What about the ambiance, our culture?

YR: The ambiance in the gym is great.

DN: Ambiance is such a buzzword… Care to elaborate?

YR: Ambiance is actually very important. I have a background in architecture. I am very aware of space, what went on in planning, and everything. I thought the lighting was appropriate, and the music selection also well done, with the volume not intrusive. All those factors are part of the ambiance. And you walk in and feel welcomed, people are friendly.

The official page lists programs and classes offered, including the popular indoor cycling, which is more intense than riding a stationary bike. Intensity varies throughout the class according to body positions, pedal speed, and resistance. Instructors determine when to change settings so the ride feels like it would outdoors, with hill climbs, sprints, and coasting.

We asked our young realtor about his cycling instructor. He hadn’t taken the class yet. “Will do next week and give you feedback.” A week later, he emailed: “I attended a spin class last night. It was a great workout and the instructor, Robert, was very helpful before and after the class. The bike was extremely clean and worked well.”


Photo Courtesy of Downtown YMCA.

Downtown is diverse, socially, economically, and generationally. While young professionals starting their careers predominate, we have a strong presence of middle-aged and retired residents.

DN: What was your experience?

YR: It’s a pretty diverse group of ages.

JW: I can give you the break-down. There are a lot of young adults, who are the local residents. And middle-age members, this segment would generally consist of professionals working in the area, coming from the buildings in the vicinity. Those are the two important segments of our clientele. We also have a number of older members. I’d like to point out young adult couples, which I think it’s really exciting, doing classes together, you know… These couples that are married with no kids coming here to spend time together, doing positive things to stay healthy… I find that really nice.

DN: Cardiovascular diseases seem to be the malady of the times, aggravated by stress, an epidemic of diabetes that sedentary lifestyles exacerbate, nutrition illiteracy, obesity, and a long etcetera.

YR: There is a whole area for cardio. It’s laid out in a way that if you don’t want to look at other people, you can just be on your own and zone out looking out of a window. It’s really well laid out.

JW: And we have aerobic classes. Using the studio step, you’ll move your way through choreographed combinations that will give your heart the boost it needs to stay healthy.

DN: Getting back to couples, do you have boxing?


JW: We don’t have boxing for couples. We do have a punching bag, part of the high-intensity training. One of the things that would be great to offer, even from a nonprofit standpoint, is self-defense classes for women. If you live in downtown, in the urban core, having the police department here teach women and men about self-defense would be important.

The Fitness Business

DN: The Y has already been in town for a few months, how is it going, business-wise?

JW: Very good. We have outdone the numbers we were anticipating. We’d like to get a thousand members by the end of the year.

DN: How many do you have now?

JW: 750. Our max capacity is 2100. People have been very happy with the prices that we are offering. The value proposition. We don’t want contracts. People don’t really want contracts. They want to be able to come and go as they please. The flexibility is important for a transient business population.

DN: We’re seeing more families with children in downtown. Can you leave your children here while parents workout?

JW: Not at this time. However, we are looking into the possibility of doing it in the near future. We don’t have the room here for kids’ programming.

DN: What’s the minimum age to use the gym?

JW: 16.


Photo courtesy of the Downtown YMCA.

DN: What would the elevator pitch be?

JW: We are here to encourage people to live a healthy lifestyle. We feel that we are a great venue and convenient for downtown residents. We provide really good equipment, great instructors and trainers… Most condo buildings around do have gyms, equipment, but not the classes to teach residents what to do. Our staff wants people to stay here for a long time, and work-out regularly. If our members are achieving their goals, then we are happy.

Does the young realtor agree? “It’s affordable, and the fact that I can walk here is definitively convenient. Downtown needed this type of gym.”

DN: What time do you workout?

YR: Usually in the evening. Between 6 and 9. I haven’t come at lunchtime to workout, but I did come for physical therapy.

JW: That’s another advantage, you can come and workout, get a massage, physical therapy… We have chiropractic services, acupuncture, massages... Having all those services in one place makes it really convenient. A lot of people come through lunchtime and get an express workout. It’s a busy time for us.

Americans have a time-tested saying: Put your money where your mouth is. We asked the young realtor if he would consider becoming a member.

YR: I already signed up.

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