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24-hour access available at Suffolk Family YMCA

Want a late-night workout to work off some extra carbs eaten at dinner, or squeeze in a 3 a.m. workout before an early shift?

You can now do that at the Suffolk Family YMCA.

The 24/7 access to the Godwin Boulevard facility is now part of a membership add-on and gives access to wellness floors and restrooms.

South Hampton Roads YMCA President and CEO Anthony Walters said it was a conscious choice to offer 24/7 access at its facility in Suffolk, and soon, in Franklin. He said offering it at its bigger facilities is more complex and a higher risk.

“In Suffolk, we said, ‘Let’s give it a go,’” Walters said in a recent interview. “We thought it was safe to do so, and we thought it would be one of the locations that would be premier for the 24-hour access.”

He said renovations there in recent years better position the Suffolk facility for 24/7 access.

“When I think about the 24-hour access, the 24-hour approach, this is going to be probably one of the showcase locations for that,” Walters said, “because it has a number of different pieces. It’s probably going to be a highlight of that service.”

He said it would be an enhancement to services that location already provides.

The 24/7 access is available to people aged 18 and older with a valid photo on file, and facilities will be monitored 24 hours per day with what it says is state-of-the-art security equipment.

The add-on cost is $4.99 per adult, per month. First responders receive the membership add-on at no extra cost. People have to agree to the 24/7 access waiver, and on each after-hours visit, they have to complete the COVID-19 self-screening and use their existing YMCA key tag to scan into the facility. They also have to abide by the rules of the facility. More information can be found at ymcashr.org/247-fitness-access.

So far, eight of the South Hampton Roads YMCA locations offer 24/7 access. The James L. Camp Jr. Family YMCA in Franklin has not yet added such access, but is slated to be added in Phase 4 of its rollout.

“That’s not a space we were in prior to the pandemic,” Walters said. “We didn’t feel like we had to do that prior to this point, but when you’ve had a pivot of services, doors were closed, we knew we had to get to the front line to do an e-learning academy and child care.”

He noted its wellness side had been shut down when the coronavirus pandemic hit last spring. He said Y officials had to look at how to keep people safe. Within 10 days of rolling out 24/7 access, it had more than 800 people sign up when it was available at just four Ys. By April 5, it will be available at 12 Ys, and soon, will be available at 17 facilities, and nearly 2,000 people have signed up for 24/7 access. He said there are no plans to roll back that service.

“We needed to get into the lab and figure out, what are we going to do when it’s 10 feet of separation between people from a social distancing perspective, and how do we make people feel psychologically safe,” Walters said. “Well, when we’re reopening, let’s get people more times, which is the kind of thing that would make people feel better. If I give you more time to work out throughout the day, you’ll spread yourself out, right? And that’s what has happened.”