Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Growing Arlington YMCA Shows off Its $150,000 Renovation; Membership in the Fast-Growing Cub Has Doubled to 4,000

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Growing Arlington YMCA Shows off Its $150,000 Renovation; Membership in the Fast-Growing Cub Has Doubled to 4,000

Article excerpt

Byline: SANDY STRICKLAND

Three years ago, Charlotte Wood's husband talked her into signing up for a senior exercise class at the Arlington Family YMCA.

Wood was afraid she couldn't keep up. A chronic lung disease had left her unable to walk across a room without stopping to rest. She was on a bunch of medications, in and out of the hospital and frequently gasping for air.

"My husband started coming to the Y, and he kept after me," the 73-year-old East Arlington resident said. "He told me there was a lady on a walker who came, and I thought to myself that I should be ashamed not to."

Wood started going so much - at least five days a week - that her husband jokingly threatened to bring her a cot. So as she looked around the Y's newly renovated and expanded facility on Merrill Road, she was proud of what she saw.

"I am just so excited about it because we needed more room, and everything is so much nicer," she said. "This place means everything to me."

The Y recently sponsored an open house to celebrate its $150,000 renovation. Membership has grown so rapidly that three years ago, the branch moved its wellness facility from Fort Caroline Road into a former Gold's Gym at 9119 Merrill Road. (Its youth and sports programs are still at Fort Caroline.)

The Y continued to grow so that even more space was needed, said Executive Director Sean Schicker. So the Merrill facility expanded into an adjacent Payless shoe store, increasing its space from just over 11,000 square feet to 15,000, he said.

That's enabled the Y to add an additional group exercise studio, more classes, more fitness equipment and a KidZone that's four times as large, Schicker said. The KidZone is a big boon because the Y provides child care for families while they work out and averages 35 children on a busy night, he said.

Before, there was one big room for everyone. Now there are separate rooms for infants and other age groups, including a 'tween room with games for ages 9 to 11, a group that wasn't too happy to be there before getting their own space, Schicker said. …

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