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New gym giving City Market a boost

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About 100 people a day have been filing into the YMCA at the downtown City Market since the facility opened last month.

That’s lower than attendance at the YMCA’s other downtown location, but leaders say those numbers are promising given the less-than-typical build-up to the facility’s opening.

“It’s taken time to build momentum,” said Karin Ogden, executive director of the downtown YMCA branches. “It’s just going to take more work and deliberate efforts on us to spread the word and tell people what we’re doing.”

The new gym—known as the Indy Bike Hub—includes a full-service fitness facility, workout classes, locker rooms, bicycle storage racks and a bike equipment and repair shop run by Bicycle Garage Indy. The facility opened Sept. 7 after a $3.5 million renovation of the City Market’s East Wing that also included improvements to the market’s main hall.

The YMCA’s plans to locate in the renovated facility were announced late last spring, about a year after the broader renovation and bike hub concept were made public, Ogden said.

The renovation is part of a large-scale effort to improve attendance at the market, which for years has relied on city subsidies to operate.

Daily attendance at the gym so far remains less than half of the average 275 people who frequent the nearby YMCA at the Athenaeum, which has been operating at its Michigan Street location since 1992. A one-day snapshot of attendance on Sept. 26 showed about 150 people used the Bike Hub, compared with 354 at the Athenaeum.

Some patrons of the Athenaeum location have moved to the Bike Hub, but Ogden said it also has added new patrons. About 166 members have joined the YMCA since the Bike Hub opened, but it’s unclear how many of those can be attributed to the new location.

YMCA leaders have been marketing the City Market site in local media outlets and through Bicycle Garage Indy’s mailing list. Ogden said they also hope to offer health education to downtown workers, making office visits to talk about fitness programs and promote the new facility.

Stevi Stoesz, City Market’s interim director, said the market is starting to see some spillover effect from the new facility. Healthier eateries, including vendors such as Natural Born Juicers and creperia Three Days in Paris, have reported an uptick in business, she said.

Some businesses also are opening earlier to take advantage of morning activity at the Y.

“People are seeing an opportunity to really capitalize on that breakfast,” Stoesz said. “We’ve got people who work in the City-County Building who are working out in the Y at 5 a.m.”

 

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