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New gyms expand options for fitness, socializing

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, at 4:12 p.m.
  • Updated Friday, Feb. 24, 2012, at 9:42 a.m.

The choices for going to the gym in Wichita are about to explode. And some don’t even involve working out.

From a long walking track looking out over downtown Wichita three stories up at the new YMCA branch, to a sports bar at the new Genesis branch at the Wichita Ice Center, to two new concepts in gyms coming to town, the offerings should give Wichitans much fodder for consideration in the way of fitness and socializing.

Between the new Y and Genesis presences downtown alone, the gyms will become one-stop shops for eating, drinking, watching sports live and on TV, getting nutrition advice and creating community.

Two fitness-center chains, Gold’s Gym and Planet Fitness, also have said they plan to open locations in Wichita.

“We don’t have any salespeople, and we don’t bother with all the extras like juice bars and childcare that drive up costs and can make a gym membership seem more like a car payment,” the website for Planet Fitness says. Two of its locations will be 2350 N. Maize Road and Marina Lakes at 21st and Amidon.

Gold’s Gym, based in Texas, has 600 locations around the world and has said it will build in Wichita. One gym most likely will be going in at Harry and Rock Road. New Gold’s Gyms in other parts of the country have included a cardio cinema — a theater that plays a movie while people work out on cardio machines.

Among the elements that will make the new downtown YMCA, going up north of the current location at 402 N. Market, unique among the Wichita-area branches: three stories instead of one or two, a café, a community and nutrition center, and the largest track (six laps will equal a mile). Much of the building will be encased in glass, and the third-floor track will offer an almost-360-degree view of downtown for people walking it.

“Because it’s glass it’s going to be very visual for anyone driving downtown,” the Y’s Shelly Conrady said of the building.

It will have two pools, one for fitness lap swimming and the other for recreational swimming — one of the ways the new Y, unlike the current Central branch, will be family-friendly, Conrady said.

The original building, dating to 1959, included a café that eventually became used for program space. A café will once again be part of the new branch, within the lobby.

The building is expected to be complete in the fourth quarter of this year.

On the south side of downtown, at 505 W. Maple, Genesis is opening a branch on the second floor of the Wichita Ice Center that will be complete in April or May. It will offer its own spice to the gym mix, including serving up drinks in a new sports bar that will be open to the public and allowing viewing of live sports on the premises as well as on TV screens.

“We haven’t had a downtown gym, and the ice center is getting busier,” Rodney Steven II, owner of Genesis, said. Genesis now manages the ice center, and Steven wants hockey to grow in Wichita, so the two enterprises will fuse nicely. People will be able to work out, for example, while watching their children in junior hockey on the ice below, Steven said.

The new sports bar will be a long-awaited replacement to the restaurant in the center that closed several years ago, Steven said. “It will be outside the club area and will be open to the public. People can watch games, and there will be light food there as well.”

Reach Annie Calovich at acalovich@wichitaeagle.com or 316-268-6596.

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