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A look at the La Crosse Area YMCA’s preliminary plan to reopening June 1

Rick Solem



Wisconsin businesses can reopen but for some, it’s not quite that simple.

The La Crosse Area YMCA is coordinating phased plan to getting members back in its facilities while taking every precaution to stop the spread COVID-19.

This isn’t quite set in stone yet, according to La Crosse Area YMCA CEO Bill Soper, but the idea is a bit of a soft reopening for the facilities in La Crosse and Onalaska beginning June 1.

On that day, Soper said members would be able to reserve areas of the facilities — such as the wellness center, a hoop in the gym to shoot around or a lane in the pool.

“You’re not reserving a piece of equipment but you’re reserving a spot and time in the wellness center,” Soper said Thursday on La Crosse Talk PM.

Members would be able to reserve up to three days in advance and for, likely, up to an hour.

“When I say these things, I’m really talking about the first 30 days,” Soper said. “We’re looking at Phase 1 being 30 days long.

“So these things would probably be for that period of time. Then, we’d look for the month of July to loosen things up a little bit. Then, of course, hopefully by fall we’re looking for a little more normal.”

Competitive sports for youth and adults won’t be part of Phase 1. Soper, who enjoys playing basketball with the morning crew during the week, said programs like youth camps, sports, swimming lessons will be looked at for July, possibly August.

As staff comes back over the next couple weeks — 525 part-time staff, 38 full-time were laid off — Soper said they will be adding signage and plexiglass throughout the facility, as well as changing up the wellness area a bit where possible.

“Our wellness center at the Houser Y in Onalaska is about 10,000 square feet — so it’s a big space,” Soper said. “We’re going to be essentially closing off every other piece of cardio equipment so there’s plenty of room — more than six feet — between users.”

Membership costs will remain the same but the Y does provide financial assistance (click here) to those who qualify.

“If people are interested in getting involved at the Y but their financial circumstances have changed, we’ve got more assistance available for that now,” Soper said.

Emergency childcare is available now through the end of May at the Dahl YMCA in La Crosse. With the reopening June 1, Soper anticipates there also being regular childcare for those who come for a workout.

Soper also talked of exploring programs like walking clubs or other activities outside, to allow a bit of that social aspect that’s sometimes much needed to help people workout.

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse