Victoria Harbour and its close surrounds, with its many bike paths, walking and running tracks, community spaces and state-of-the-art gyms, is quickly gaining a reputation as one of Melbourne's most active pockets. Kiloran Hiscock has a chat to Andrew Ward, Manager of YMCA Docklands, about the many options available to Victoria Harbour residents and workers who are keen to get moving and get healthy.
For the past three years Andrew Ward has overseen the management of four YMCA Victoria businesses, including one on Collins Street (at the base of ANZ) and another at Victoria Point, and has acted as a representative for workers at the Docklands Community Forum. As a result of this close involvement he has witnessed the area’s growth first-hand. Heavily engaged with the local community, YMCA also has a not-for-profit focus, working with organisations such as Melbourne City Mission, WIRE Women’s Information and Corrections Victoria to promote health and fitness within marginalised groups. “My strong direction is to bring in community programming alongside our business,” Ward says.
Ward’s goal is for the precinct to become Australia’s most active community, and from what he says things seem right on track. This has a lot to do with a large demographic of young corporate workers eagerly embracing the many facilities available before and after work and even during their lunch breaks, especially the thirty-minute group fitness classes that are easily accommodated into a busy worker’s day. In fact, a great deal of the programming at YMCA reflects the ‘9 to 5’ lifestyle, with an appreciation that time is of the essence. “I can see the area starting to thrive and a big part of that is the dynamic that categorises a young corporate environment,” Ward says.
Part of this success can be attributed to Active Melbourne City Sports. AMCS organises a range of corporate sports competitions throughout the CBD and Docklands, enabling city workers to escape the office and enjoy the benefits of engaging in team-based activities. Encompassing a diverse array of sports including soccer, netball, basketball and even lawn bowls, this program is incredibly popular – Ward says places often book out well in advance.
AMCS offers a number of options for Victoria Harbour residents, including Twilight Soccer at the Docklands Sports Courts (on Harbour Esplanade, across the road from Docklands Park) on Monday and Wednesday nights. Ward explains that with recent relaxation around the use of public space in the precinct both residents and workers are using the facilities, including basketball, netball and futsal courts. “The courts are basically being used at all hours of the day,” he says. With the growing popularity of sports and fitness, in addition to the increasing number of local businesses providing movement options such as yoga and Pilates, it would appear that Ward’s vision is well on its way to being realised.
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