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Fitness enthusiasts flock to Parrish YMCA

PARRISH — Snowbirds Wayne and Tina Ihlenfeld looked around the new Parrish Branch YMCA like a couple of kids in a candy store.

“This is awesome,” he said to her. She nodded.

The couple is from West Chester, Pa., but lives in Manatee County during the winter. They are long-time YMCA members who were enthusiastic about the new Parrish branch so close to their second home.

He is retired and she is a personal trainer. They’re both buff and to stay that way, they plan to weight train and take classes among other things.

“This is fantastic, it has everything you need,” Wayne Ihlenfeld said.

The couple is among those who have flocked to the new YMCA, which has already beat its initial membership goals by a considerable margin.

The facility, which shares space with the Parrish Community Center in a renovated historic schoolhouse, celebrated its grand opening Oct. 9-11. By the end of the month, it had already exceeded its goal of 250 members by 55 people, said Jackie Riordan, membership director.

By mid-November, she had signed up 350 members, well on the way to a goal of 400 by year’s end, she said.

Costs range from a $20 joining fee and $20 a month for a single teen, to a $100 joining fee and $68 a month for a family membership, according to the YMCA fee schedule.

The YMCA offers classes from yoga and aerobics to basic tumbling and hip hop dance. There is also kids’ and adults’ sports, a fitness center and weight room.

From May to September, the facility tentatively is planning to offer aquatics and swim classes at a nearby subdivision pool and clubhouse, said Riordan.

Michelle Pipino, a Parrish nurse practitioner, is happy to support a YMCA branch in her East Manatee neighborhood.

“We come two to three times a week, at least,” she said, after dropping her two children off at the adjacent child care center. “We love it.”

The schoolhouse dating from the 1920s is a fixture in the heart of Parrish, at 12214 U.S. 301 N. It has retained many of its old-fashioned features like original hardwood floors and big, spacious windows. However, during its renovation, it acquired plenty of modern amenities as well: Wi-Fi, solar-heated hot water,and outside paint that reflects sunlight.

The building’s reprise was made possible through a joint effort between The Parrish Foundation Inc. and Manatee County, which kicked in $2 million for renovation. The YMCA contributed $250,000 for the start-up, including marketing, a grand opening and new equipment such as treadmills with TVs, said Sean Allison, YMCA association president and chief executive officer.

Kim Schuerman, a mom with two children, last week rode her bike four miles from her home at River Wilderness to work out at the new YMCA, she said. To exercise, she actually travels farther in miles than she did before, but is committed to the YMCA for civic reasons as well as fitness ones.

“It’s bringing the community together here,” she said. “Outside of church, it’s hard to meet people. It’s all ages, all interests. I really just think it’s phenomenal.”

For information, consult the Manatee YMCA Web site at or call (941) 981-5323.

Sara Kennedy, reporter, can be reached at 745-7031.