Church Health and YMCA "better together" with opening of shared facility at Crosstown Concourse

The new Church Health YMCA at Crosstown Concourse stands out from any other fitness and wellness facility in the region.

Joining forces, Church Health and the YMCA see the new 25,000 square-foot multi-use facility at the Crosstown Concourse as a catalyst to “be better together.”

“We know that lasting personal and social change comes about when we work together. Both the YMCA and Church Health care for the health and well-being of this community guided by Christian foundations of love and service,” said Shauna Bateman, executive director of the Church Health YMCA.

By growing together, both organizations believe they can create a bigger impact.

“Through this partnership, we are aligning our programs and continuum of care to reach Mid-Southerners who may not otherwise receive these services,” said Bateman.

With an April 1 ribbon cutting, the new facility officially opened their doors inside the Crosstown Concourse, whose 1.1 million square feet of space is just booting up. Long-term goals include a vision of the Church Health YMCA as a gathering place for the surrounding community and a way to draw in the diversity from the enveloping neighborhoods.

“That’s why at the Y, strengthening community is our cause.  Every day, we work side-by-side with our neighbors to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has opportunities to learn, grow and thrive,” said Bateman.

Within its 25,000 square feet, the YMCA serves up a full complement of wellness offerings, including group exercise classes, Cycle studio, senior classes, one-on-one wellness consultations, cardio and weight equipment, a walking track, locker rooms with showers, Mx4 functional fitness training and personal training.

Now the YMCA's next door neighbor inside Crosstown Concourse, Church Health has recently moved the bulk of its operation to its new home. It has already started serving some of the 65,000 uninsured patients on its rolls in the new digs.

The visionary behind the partnership of the two benevolent organizations is Dr. Scott Morris, Church Health's founder and chief executive.

To Morris, the joint venture made sense because their missions are very similar.

“I think people have forgotten what the Y’s mission really is all about. It’s not just about creating gyms. It’s about helping people do the same thing we care about (to) live the life well-lived. That’s why the partnership works so well.”

The YMCA offers one-on-one wellness consultations along with personal training and Mx4 small group functional fitness training which are all included in membership.


“Everything we do is designed to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve health and well-being and motivate people to support their neighbors and make our community a better place.”

Church Health’s model for healthy living seems to dovetail perfectly with the Y’s core mission.

Following what they see as the seven key dimensions of health that include faith, movement, work, emotional, nutrition, family and friends, and of course health, the belief is that these aspects add up to fulfill a sense of self and well-being.

“So, for instance, it matters that people have a place to exercise. It matters that people have a place to learn to cook a healthy meal. It matters that they have a place to have physical therapy to have dance,” said Marvin Stockwell, director of communications for Church Health.

In their new setup at the Concourse, Church Health has a first-floor walk-in clinic. One flight up, next to the YMCA, is the Family Practice Clinic where Church Health partners with Baptist Memorial to train residents in a three-year family practice program. Additionally, they have a dental care facility, eye clinic and behavioral health services all on-site.

Church Health also offers complementary programming with the YMCA for medical services, wellness education and an expanded nutrition training kitchen.

An area that syncs up well with the YMCA is Church Health’s physical therapy program.

Church Health's model for healthy living is represented by the seven key dimensions of health - Faith Life, Medical, Movement, Work, Emotional, Nutrition and Friends & Family – on display at their Family Medicine Clinic next to the new YMCA.

In 2004, a conversation began at Church Health about the integration of the health and wellness models. In the old Church Health building, the physical therapy program was physically located in the wellness center. With the proximity, a kernel of an idea took root.

Now, Church Health believes it can better deliver on that promise thanks to increased programmatic pieces at Crosstown Concourse and its partnership with YMCA.

“What we have here at Crosstown Concourse is that idea taken to its logical, best expression,” said Stockwell.

Physical therapists employed by Crosstown Concourse have new tools and partnerships at their disposal. And they are right next door to the YMCA, where they prescribe exercise to patients for next level mobility.

“To come back from something so far gone. To be told you wouldn’t walk. Then to prove them wrong. It’s a gratifying feeling to know the work we do here is the thing that helped make that possible,” said Stockwell.

Another thing the move to Crosstown and partnering with the YMCA has allowed Church Health to do is to ramp up kitchen offerings with a bigger modern space for cooking, as well as an open dining area.

In addition, a commercial kitchen operated in partnership with Memphis Tilth, will be up-and-running by mid-May. A baker will be on staff that will provide fresh bread to the Memphis Tilth CSA and the Curb Market which will soon take up residence in Crosstown, as well as provide space for food entrepreneurs. Interest from local restaurants is growing as well.

The Church Health and YMCA integration is taking an emphasis on food to the next level with additional curriculum. 

On-site childcare is provided for Church Health YMCA family members while families exercise.

In partnership with Tulane University School of Medicine, they have adopted the school’s culinary medicine curriculum, which was created by Professor Timothy Harlan, who is both a doctor and a chef.

It is one of the first facilities outside of Louisiana to feature this curriculum in its programming.

“It ties back to our mission. We want to take what we had been doing which was strictly community classes, which we will keep doing, and now we are going to offer continuing medical education credits to doctors and other medical providers. So, over time we are educating them on how to talk to their patients about food,” said Stockwell.

An expanded vision of healthcare also helps the overall health of Memphis. The revenue that comes in from the medical classes helps Church Health and the YMCA fund free community classes.

“So everybody wins,” added Stockwell.

The teaching kitchen will be ready end of May with community classes scheduled for early June.

Church Health YMCA members can also participate in The Well, which is a prevention and wellness program for children and their families. Members of the YMCA can have their children attend the program for two hours a day.

Church Health physical therapists are right next door to the YMCA, where they can prescribe exercise to patients.


“Plan to Get Healthy” is a coaching program for children where personal goals are set for healthy eating and regular movement. Families, specifically children are involved in creating a plan to motivate change toward healthy behavior. They also work with pediatrician offices on referrals.

“This isn’t a special plan for children who are obese. All children need to learn how to make better choices. We provide an encouraging environment for families to help them accomplish their goals,” said Kimberly Baker, manager of The Well.

The hope is that a plan catered to the individual will empower the child to work with their parents to self-report daily progress. On the days that they don’t meet their mark, emphasis is put on the next day.

“We don’t demonize any behaviors. We talk about how every day is a fresh start. It’s a positive way to talk to children about making good choices now so they are healthier adults later,” added Baker.

The Well also provides a full complement of kid-focused classes like yoga, meditation and dance.

Beyond the walls of the Crosstown Concourse, the YMCA plans to open a new summer camp at Midtown Church of Christ to provide youth in the community access to a day camp experience. The summer camp is open to the member and non-members.

“They can build positive character values, develop new skills, and make new friends,” said Bateman.

The Church Health YMCA is also the YMCA branch home of the community-based intervention program Y-CAP.  The program works in the community to provide wrap-around, whole-family intervention services for youth with risk factors for juvenile offending. 

“Y-CAP also provides a no-cost summer reading program in partnership with Sherwood Elementary school for youth not meeting grade level reading milestones,” said Bateman.

Truly closing the loop around its core mission.

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Read more articles by Kim and Jim Coleman.

Kim Coleman is a journalist with over 20 years of experience in newsrooms as a reporter, editor and graphic designer, including ten years with The Commercial Appeal as Design Director/Senior Editor and Print Planning Editor. 


Jim Coleman is a freelance writer, covering a variety of topics from high school sports, community news and small business. He has written for different news organizations over the past 20 years, including The Commercial Appeal, Community Weeklies, Lexington Herald-Leader and The Albuquerque Journal.