By John Lynds
It’s safe to say that the new East Boston YMCA on Bremen Street has exceeded everyone’s expectations and now, five years after it first opened its doors, the staff and community are looking forward to even more programs to service youth and families in Eastie.
The YMCA recently revamped and expanded its fitness center on the second floor of the facility. The $120,000 renovation included knocking down a wall to shrink the women’s locked (which was underused) and expand the overall workout space. The Y also added new, state-of-the-art fitness equipment by Cybex and a new floor in the gym.
“All together we added 38 new pieces of equipment that includes 12 new cardio machines, 10 new circuit training machines and all new free-weights,” said Y’s Executive Director Joey Cuzzi. “It’s hard to believe it was five years ago that we all convened here with great anticipation and excitement over the opening of the new building. I think we’ve exceeded all of our expectations.”
Cuzzi said the remodeling of the fitness center proves the Y’s commitment to its membership and promoting health and wellness in Eastie.
“The old equipment was looking rather used and we realized some of the fitness areas flaws so we worked to address that,” said Cuzzi. “We looked at how the gym could work better, be more user friendly and offer our members the best equipment that is out there.”
As for the new Cybex equipment, the Y’s Fitness Director Danielle Galdo said the equipment is very good.
“Each piece is very user friendly and simple to use,” she said. “It’s good for the novice or advanced gym goer and members really seem to be responding well with the new stuff and layout of the gym.”
Five years ago the ambitious $3.5 million conversion of the former Boston & Albany Engine House into daycare and community facility was realized.
Inside the two-level building large open spaces, classrooms, community rooms and fitness areas make the first level seem endless. The first level houses a community room where groups hold meetings or activities during the day and evenings.
The Y’s daycare is also housed on the first level and the design incorporates the latest technology in security.
Other high-tech equipment on the first level includes a virtual reality bicycling room were children and adults can ride on stationary bikes while a screen projects different landscapes and scenery in front of the riders.
The vast expanse of space for both community and Y use doesn’t stop on the first floor. Upstairs the fitness center is a large open studio that houses everything from weight training to aerobics to family fitness classes. There are also men and women locker rooms with personal shower stalls, bathrooms, and lockers.
But it’s what the Y staff does inside the building that makes the programs unique.
In the past the Y has partnered with the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) on physical fitness and nutrition programs for children and families.
“The number one health crisis for children is obesity,” explained EBNHC President Jack Cradock. “We were able to come to the Y and monitor children here and teach them about their weight, how to read nutrition labels and keep active. The program was a huge success that positively affected the lives of lots of kids.”
In addition to continuing to improve all its programs the Y also recently launched several new programs for teens and active seniors that will be the hallmark of the agencies second year on Bremen Street.
The Y also launched a walking club for 35 seniors that have been pounding the pavement around Eastie to keep in shape.
Started as a small daycare center on Bennington Street 15 years ago the Y has grown to become a venerable institution in the neighborhood.