YMCA Director: FoxCare To Keep ‘Familiar Faces’
Community Now Must Do Its Part
By WRILEY NELSON
The Oneonta Family YMCA is moving forward with plans to take over operation of Bassett Healthcare Network’s FoxCare Fitness Center. The Y will formally take control of the fitness center at the beginning of June, but staff members started working at FoxCare on May 15. The new operation will be called YMCA Specialty Fitness @ FoxCare. According to a release, the facility will be operated separately from the Y with its own resources and membership. Specialty Fitness will operate basic FoxCare services for a trial period while YMCA staff consider and develop new special programming.
“Our first goal was to keep the doors open, to keep the center from closing at the beginning of June, and we’re excited to have accomplished that,” said YMCA Executive Director Frank Russo. “We have done six months of work in six weeks and we are very appreciative of Bassett and their flexible, solutions-oriented approach to making this happen.”
YMCA staff have worked to maintain the same services and facilities that FoxCare members enjoy. Members will have access to both pools, the fitness and cardio areas, and classes in the studio. Although many local businesses and institutions are suffering from staff shortages, Russo said that Specialty Fitness has been able to retain most of FoxCare’s employees.
“People will be able to return to the gym space they’re used to and they’ll see mostly familiar faces,” he said.
However, the new facility does have a shortage of lifeguards and spin class instructors. Russo asked the community to consider applying for these positions.
In light of strong staff retention and community interest, Russo was sanguine about Specialty Fitness’ financial prospects.
“It was evident there was a passion to keep this gym open and now we need the people to sign up and keep that positive energy in motion,” he said. “That passion is going to be key: FoxCare has about 800 members and people really cared deeply when it seemed like the facility was going to close. We have done our part to keep it open. It’s now the community’s turn to do their part. We need to bring in old members and new ones,” Russo concluded.
The initial announcement that Bassett was closing FoxCare caused widespread dismay in the Oneonta community. “The Freeman’s Journal,” “Hometown Oneonta” and other publications received literally dozens of letters to the editor protesting the move.
Many of the letters emphasized FoxCare’s different member base, noting that it drew older clients with a stronger interest in recovery- and maintenance-centered exercise than other local gyms. It is now incumbent on FoxCare members to keep their facility open.
“The YMCA is looking forward to working with everyone as we continue to provide services to promote everyone’s overall wellbeing, no matter where they are on their journey toward better health,” the release said. “When people feel their best and have fulfilling lifestyles, our community becomes stronger, too!”
YMCA staff are on-site at scheduled times for membership registration. Applicants should bring a completed membership application, photo ID and payment information. More information and a membership registration link can be found at https://www.oneontaymca.org/. Questions regarding the new Specialty Fitness center may be sent to YSFwelcome@oneontaymca.org.