A Home Away From Home
It all began in a red, sardine-can Fiat in 1958. Since then, the Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA has grown by leaps and bounds and is considered one of the most active and progressive YMCA’s in the entire nation. With the support from the Ecke family from its inception, the YMCA has been able to grow as the community has grown. The 100,000 sq. foot ocean view facility is now a model for Y’s across the nation. They pride themselves on having one of the largest involvement rates in the country. Members benefit from a plethora of opportunities available that focus around youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. We had the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the successful icon in the community from Associate Executive, Lauren Hall where she clearly relays the fact that the community defines their programing. It’s apparent there is team effort in the reasoning behind the Magdelena Ecke Family YMCA’s successes and the “home away from home” feel it exudes to its members.
92024: What is the history behind the Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA? How has the YMCA evolved over the years to continue to be such a popular place for community members?
Hall: The “North County YMCA” began in a red, sardine-can Fiat 500 in 1958, bringing programs, activities and services to the neighborhoods in Encinitas and surrounding areas. In 1959, the Y outgrew the little red car and established an office on 3rd Street in downtown Encinitas. By 1962, Y programs were in full swing in North County, offering a full range of activities and sports for elementary age to high school age children including one of the area’s first organized surfing contests! With leadership of then-Executive Director, Rollie Ayers and committed board members such as Paul Ecke, Jr., Ed Harloff, Irv Roston and Don Hubbard, the Y soon added the Aquatic Park in the lagoon off Tamarack. In 1969, the Y acquired a piece of property that unalterably affected the future of tens of thousands of Encinitas residents. With the blessing of Paul Ecke, Sr. and Paul Ecke, Jr., the Ecke Family donated the first five-acre plot of land to the North Coast Family Y on Saxony Road. The first Y building in North County consisted of an exercise room, offices and a separate pool area with locker rooms. This would soon be home to gymnastics programs, camps, Adventure Guides, teaching thousands of children to swim, and a launching pad for a “trendy” concept of exercising and aerobics. In 1988, the Ecke Family donated the remainder of the 20-acre site we sit on today. We are named the Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA in honor of Paul Ecke, Jr.’s mother, Magdalena Ecke. With the leadership of Susan Hight, Executive Director and our Board of Management, we now house an even more state-of-the-art Aquatic Center, indoor soccer arenas, exercise studios, wellness center, cardio and strength centers, basketball gymnasium, Skate Park, preschool, picnic park, dance studio, camp corral, baseball fields and have expanded into Carlsbad with a 22,000 sq. foot Gymnastics Center.
Ultimately, our community defines our programming. We observe areas of need in our community and help bridge the gap by offering services and programs that serve those currently underserved. Today, we have hundreds of programs available for ages 0 to 100 years.
[quote]“There is so much talent with our Y community and we’re proud of their accolades and being a part of their training for success. To us, when our members are successful, it is the best accolade of all.”[/quote]
92024: The YMCA is rated as one of the most active and progressive YMCA’s in the nation. Please tell us three-four reasons why it has received that accolade.
Hall: Our YMCA has been fortunate to receive generous support from the Ecke Family since its inception, and the Ecke Family has been pivotal with supporting our growing facility. Our YMCA is known across the country for its size and scope, which is due in large part to our facility and membership size. One out of every seven households in Encinitas is a Y member, 22,000 members total. This figure does not include those who participate in non-member activities such as sports, gymnastics, camp and other activities. These numbers would likely change involvement to one out of every three households involved in the Y. In addition, we thrive on our community outreach programs with financial assistance to community members in need and financially underwriting Y involvement for local partners such as Encinitas Community Resource Center, local schools in Encinitas School District, Casa De Amparo, Casa de Amistad, Kinship Support Services, Migrant Family Education Programs, Los Angelitos Soccer, Camp Pendleton Armed Services YMCA, and St. Vincent de Paul.
92024: What facilities and amenities do you have at the YMCA for members to use?
Hall: The Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA branch of the YMCA of San Diego County actually includes two facilities. The main campus on Saxony Road includes three fitness centers, four studios for dance and 180+ weekly group exercise classes that include yoga, Zumba, Barre, mat Pilates, cardio kickboxing, boot camps, kids fitness and more. Additional facility features include an instructional pool, competition pool, kids Splash Pad, indoor cycling studio, family locker rooms, men’s & women’s locker rooms with saunas and Jacuzzi, Gravity studio, Pilates studio, full size gymnasium, two “indoor” soccer arenas, childcare rooms, courtyard and park areas and more. All members receive complimentary enrollment into the ‘Fit 4 Me’ program which is an 8-12 week program of instruction and coaching on a personalized fitness routine. Even with all this available to members, some just come to gather with friends in the mornings and drink a complimentary cup of coffee from our coffee bar. With a separate Skate Park membership or a day pass, the community can access the world-renowned 34,000 sq. foot Skate Park. The second facility is our 22,000 square foot Gymnastics Center located at 6100 Avenida Encinas in Carlsbad.
92024: What are the most popular programs at the YMCA for children? Teens? Adults? Seniors?
Hall: Our largest programs for children are the summer day camp programs with over 9,000 enrollments from June to August. The youth and Pee Wee sports programs serve thousands of children learning soccer, basketball, track, cheerleading and football. Gymnastics serves recreational and competitive young gymnasts. The Skate Park receives over 19,000 annual visits from local and international guests. Last year over 3,400 children learned to swim at our Y.
Our Teens actively engage in Model United Nations and Youth and Government. Monthly dances throughout the school year are attended by over 400 local students.
Our senior programs are some of the most well attended at the Y. With over 3,000 senior members, our facility often hosts groups of seniors working out together, attending social activities and clubs, going on day trips and excursions and learning more about wellness at all ages.
92024: What are the membership details and benefits?
Hall: We offer a variety of value-enhanced membership options for our community. Fees range from $22-$77 per month depending on the number of people you decide to include with your membership. Of course, those with financial hardship can qualify for financial assistance and military discounts are available as well.
Membership benefits include:
– Strength Training Center, Wellness Center & Cardio Room
– Free Weight Room
– Yoga & Mat Pilates
– Barre Fitness
– Fit 4 Me Personalized Coaching Sessions
– 180+ aerobic fitness classes each week
– Equipment 101 and Introductory Fitness Class Clinics
– Member rates on programs with 15%-50% off fees
– Zumba Fitness & Boot Camps
– Men’s & Women’s Locker Rooms
– Family Locker Rooms
– Children’s interactive Splash Pad
– Sauna & Whirlpool
– Health Lectures & Educational Seminars
– Road Riding Cycling Club
– Studio Cycling & Running Groups
– Pre & Postnatal Yoga
– Basketball Open-Gym play
– Social events: carnivals, luaus, fiestas
– Book, knitting & movie clubs
– Complimentary coffee
92024: This issue of 92024 will be read by our readers during the start of the 2013 year. Do you have any New Year’s specials or programs to reveal?
Hall: Our new year will bring the opportunity to join the Y without paying a Joiners Fee! This offer will end January 31st. The Y will no longer be waving the join fee beginning 2014, so this could be a last chance opportunity for our community to join without an enrollment fee. Our Y’s Open House will be Saturday, January 5th. This day will include hospitality, tours, kid’s carnival, give-a-ways and fun! The event is from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The community is invited.
92024: Tell us about your YMCA Membership Plus program as well as your Child Watch Programs.
Hall: The Membership Plus Program allows a member to access all of the 16 branches of the YMCA of San Diego County. We have branches from Imperial Beach, to Escondido, Oceanside and East County. There is a YMCA dedicated to service every part of San Diego County.
Our Child Watch program offers children’s activities and programs while the parent utilizes membership amenities on site. We have a separate infant center for our littlest members up to age 18 months. Because our Child Watch program utilizes small ratios of staff to children, the Y has a very small fee to keep our quality optimal.
92024: You are known for promoting wellness in the workplace. How so?
Hall: We provide three options for employers in our community. Employers can contract the Y to come to their place of employment to run fitness classes, walking groups, boot camps, etc. There is also the option to enroll employees in Y membership as a part of the employee benefits package. Additionally, we have an option that is a combination of both, where employees have Y memberships and we coordinate team weight loss challenge programming and tailored fitness programs for the employer. We are popular for programming fitness for large corporate conferences and meetings. It is proven that an active, healthy work force will result in fewer sick days and health benefit costs to an employer. We are proud to help employees incorporate health and wellness into their daily lives!
92024: You have joined forces with Scripps Health to promote health and wellness throughout San Diego County. Tell us about this partnership and what events/seminars you will be hosting in the New Year.
Hall: With the rise of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and the obesity epidemic, the importance of health education and wellness efforts becomes more critical for our community. Our partnership allows both Scripps and the Y the opportunity to expand critical wellness efforts in San Diego County. Scripps will bring wellness vehicles on site for health assessments, and host a variety of health seminars in our conference rooms at the Y. For the upcoming health & wellness lectures, we encourage the community to check out our YMCA website for the most up to date information.
92024: What awards/accolades, etc…has the MEF YMCA received over the past few years?
Hall: We were recently named the best Organization for Kids in our community by Ranch and Coast Magazine. In addition, our Skate Park continues to top lists of best Skate Park in national and international action sports publications.
Many of our members and member groups continue to make the Y proud by becoming professional Skate Athletes, receiving college Gymnastics scholarships, participating in the Senior Olympics, winning Iron Man races, and winning Olympic medals in various summer sports. There is so much talent with our Y community and we’re proud of their accolades and being a part of their training for success. To us, when our members are successful, it is the best accolade of all.
92024: You pride yourselves in providing the San Diego community with the best childcare options in the County. Tell us about what the YMCA has in place for members.
Hall: We have many child development programs for young children and school age children. Our recently renovated and expanded Preschool provides opportunities for children that stimulate their physical, social, intellectual and emotional development.
We also offer before and afterschool childcare for Elementary and Middle School Age Children. We provide an on-site Childcare Center with pick up and drop off at El Camino Creek, Ocean Knoll, Park Dale Lane and Paul Ecke Central. We provide Childcare on-site at Capri Elementary and Aviara Oaks Middle School.
Our summer camp program runs for 10-11 weeks each summer and is a must-have on the summer check-list with over 75 different camps to choose from.
92024: What are some of the most popular events the YMCA hosts every year?
Hall: Our YMCA holds three outstanding major fundraisers each year: the Paul Ecke, Jr. Poinsettia Ball Gala benefiting YMCA financial assistance in December, the Bike-A-Thon fitness fun event in February for the Annual Giving Campaign and the Roof Raisers Golf Tournament/Dinner for capital improvements each May. These events add up to over $250,000 raised each year to serve our community better. In addition, we host a 6-week-long “event” called our Annual Support Campaign. Over 450 Y community volunteers assemble to advocate for the Y and raise over $600,000 for community support. Our Annual Support Campaign runs February through mid-March and includes events, calling parties and various mini-fundraisers to support the Y. Other fun events throughout the year include the Annual Open House on January 5, Family Luau, Active Adults Hoedown, Skate & Music Festival and more. Our events are not exclusive and are open to the community! We invite everyone to attend who is interested.
“Our World renowned Skate Park is currently under construction to enhance the longevity and sustainability of the park! Thanks to our generous major donors and community members for supporting our $650,000 Skate Park Capital Campaign, we have broken ground and have begun the transformation.
Our original YMCA Skate Park, built in 1990, was relocated and expanded to 34,000 square feet in 2004. Our new Skate Park, unique with wood and skatelite construction, features a 120’ monster vert ramp used at the 2003 X Games, signature kidney and clover pools, “mini-land” skate lesson area, and a street course with ledges, rails and ramps.
Our current park is the home to thousands of skaters from beginner lesson levels at age three, to professionals such as Shaun White and Tony Hawk. Our Skate Park is an international icon, featured during Olympic broadcasting, skate and sports magazines and covered during competition events.
As one of the most iconic Skate Parks in the world, our construction of wood and skatelite ramps is important to maintain our uniqueness and appeal to the skate community. Our proximity to the Pacific Ocean and high levels of moisture creates a challenging atmosphere for wood longevity. The consistent moisture requires constant upkeep and replacement of wood and skatelite to keep the park running.
The popularity of skateboarding is predicting to rise in the next decade. To keep up with the growing popularity of skateboarding, our Y has pioneered the concept of offering skateboarding lessons to beginners. Parents have recognized the benefits of skaters learning skateboarding basics, falling safety and skate etiquette and our current lesson program has reached max capacity. As a result, part of our redesign is to expand our Mini-Land lesson area complete with spectator area to meet the growing demand of skateboarding lessons.
Additional renovations are focused around the goals of park sustainability while maintaining the exciting and unique features wood construction offers to the skate community. Such renovations include the transformation of our wood street course into a partial wood/concrete mix street course, reducing our 120’ vert ramp to 80’ to allow for the expansion of the Mini-Land lesson area, improvements on the bowls and a spectator area. We hope the park will be finished by the middle of 2013. We are still open during parts of construction.”[tabs] [tab title=”At A Glance”]
Full Name: Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA
Year of Establishment: 1959
Location: 200 Saxony Road, Encinitas, CA 92024
Main Operator: 760-942-9622
Main Fax: 760-944-9329
Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday, 5:45 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
# of Members: 20,000+
That no child is ever denied the opportunity to play, imagine, thrive and grow.
That the increasing percentage of obesity & diabetes across the nation diminishes, and the Y helps that number reduce.
That all people of the North County Coastal community know our Y is here to help them realize their fullest potential.