About the Wellmark Y

About the Wellmark Y

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The beautiful new Wellmark YMCA facility opened January 1, 2015, but the Y's roots in downtown Des Moines go back more than a century before that.

The YMCA of Greater Des Moines was founded in 1868 in rented quarters at 77 Walnut Street. In 1912 the Y's first facility opened a few blocks to the north, at Fourth and Keosauqua. This building, later aquired by the State of Iowa as the home of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.

In 1960, the Y relocated to a site at 101 Locust, on the west bank of the Des Moines River. The new eight-story Riverfront YMCA featured two gymnasiums, a cafeteria, handball and squash courts, exercise rooms, a large pool, a chapel and housing for men in transition. When the Y moved to its present location at 501 Grand Avenue, the Riverfront Y building was imploded; a new federal courthouse is currently under construction on the site. The brick murals adorning the walls of the Riverfront Y have been recreated at the new Wellmark YMCA.

The Wellmark Y carries on the tradition of its predecessors as a place where people of all ages, backgrounds and income levels find support and camaraderie. Among its notable features:

  • Expansive areas for cardio training, strength training, TRX and functional fitness training
  • A 1/8-mile indoor running track
  • Two studios for group fitness and mind/body exercise classes
  • Two basketball courts, which are also used for volleyball, pickleball and fitness classes
  • A multi-tier cycling studio with capacity for 50 bikes
  • The MidAmerican Energy Company Aquatic Center, featuring the Olympic-size Prairie Meadows Pool and a program pool for swim lessons and water exercise
  • Men's, women's and family locker rooms and fitness centers
  • Racquetball and squash courts
  • A Pilates studio with reformers
  • Triathlon training facility
  • Supervised play area for kids
  • Community meeting rooms in the William C. Knapp Leadership Center
  • And much more!

News & Stories

Stay up to date on the latest happenings around the YMCA of Greater Des Moines. Our blog is where we share news about upcoming events, success stories of Y members and the role the Y plays in the community.

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