Lakewood Ranch YMCA serves 2,300 families and anticipates more

vmannix@bradenton.comJune 12, 2012 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The Manatee County YMCA Lakewood Ranch Branch has a big week planned.

Beginning Thursday, it will hold a Grand Re-Opening Celebration to salute and show off its $2.1 million expansion.

It's just in time, too.

"With school out we are absolutely packed," said branch Director Scott Morin.

The branch presently serves 2,300 families and, thanks to expansion, now houses a 40,000-square foot facility on 17 acres.

Among the new amenities within 20,000-square-feet of new and renovated space are a fitness center, cycle studio, child-care area, teen center, dance and yoga studio and conference room.

The four-day event will include:

n Thursday, 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. -- Grand re-opening celebration featuring guest speakers, giveaways and free food. Look for the big tent and hot air balloon.

n Friday, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. -- Fitness Friday includes a 3-hour cycling marathon, Zumba classes or get a free fitness assessment.

n Saturday, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. -- Teen Challenge in

cludes a new 20-foot high rock climbing wall, a ping pong tournament and open basketball.

n Sunday, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. -- A family pool party with pool games, food and a giant water slide to celebrate Father's Day.

"When we started this capital campaign, even with the economy, I never had a doubt this day would come," Morin said. "We examined where we were lacking and listened to what members said we needed. What the community needed, we've tried to provide."

Construction began last September and the additions have been phased in over the last few months, including:

n 8,300-square-foot fitness center.

n 1,080-square-foot dance and yoga studio.

n 780-square-foot cycling room.

n 2,684-square-foot aerobic studio.

n 2,166-square-foot child care room.

n 1,281-square-foot teen center opens Thursday, and will have a pool table, ping pong table, wall climbing, big screen television and a lab station with computers.

"Our fitness center can compete with anybody's," Morin said. "With the bigger group exercise room, the new teen center that will be so valuable, and our quadrupled child care space, we'll see a push with membership sales and retention."

Plans also are in place for two athletic fields to be resodded, graded, irrigated and lighted as part of the capital campaign, which is $25,000 short of its goal.

"We've seen a 25-percent increase in membership sales over last year, so I'm confident," he said.

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix

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