LAKEWOOD RANCH — The Lakewood Ranch YMCA just got bigger.
On March 3, members and officials of the YMCA celebrated the opening of the facility’s new $2.1 million, 13,000-square-foot addition, which has been under construction since September.
“We had a big turnout,” Branch Director Scott Morin said, adding he’s appreciative of members who stuck with the YMCA during construction. “We didn’t get any negative comments. Everybody seemed to be very happy and very appreciative.”
The new space includes a new fitness center with 80 pieces of cardio equipment, an expanded free weight area and two new circuit training lines, as well as a group exercise room, a yoga/dance classroom, a group cycling space and several small offices.
“We went from having a few multi-purpose spaces to having dedicated spaces with the quality equipment and flooring that’s needed (for them),” Morin said. “Before, we were teaching aerobics and dance and karate on a rubberized floor. Now, we have two rooms, and they’re dedicated spaces that have a ballet bars and mirrors. It’s exactly what you need for (those classes).”
Contractors already have begun the second part of the project — remodeling the facility’s existing fitness center. The space will be converted into a large aerobics area and a teen center. A new childcare space is being added, as well, and YMCA officials hope the renovation will be finished in May.
The reconfigurations, which also will eliminate the seating area behind the reception desk, will add about 6,000 square feet of space internally.
Morin said the YMCA still needs to raise about $100,000 to meet its capital campaign goal for the expansion project. Once accomplished, the YMCA will add two all-purpose fields to its facility, as well.
“(The fields) will accommodate existing programs,” Morin said. “Most of the (outdoor) programs we do now are off-site. This will allow us to do those things on site, as well as do more programming.”
Morin said the expansion is meant to improve customer service and offerings to existing members, while increasing the YMCA’s overall membership base.
In future years, YMCA officials also hope to add a second gymnasium and a splash park, as well, Morin said.
“That’s definitely down the road,” he said. “Those are not a part of that project, but they are things we’ve talked about and would like to do in the future.
The original 27,000-square-foot YMCA location opened in March 2003 with about 500 memberships and programs such as youth sports, swim lessons and more. Within two years, however, it had doubled its membership, and by 2009 had surpassed its capacity of 2,200 memberships.
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