Gerri Ramulis has been going to the Northeast Family YMCA since 1968.
Over the years, her seven children have also taken part in activities at the facility, at 11088 Knights Road. She even recalls taking a belly-dancing class in the 1970s.
Today, she uses the indoor swimming pool and the fitness center, and she and other members are so eager to work out that they often show up before the place opens at 6 a.m.
“God bless the Northeast YMCA,” she said. “It’s a special asset to the community.”
Ramulis was on hand last week as the Northeast Family Y unveiled its new fitness center. Youngsters Grace Bruno and Nya Ruiz held a ribbon as dignitaries cut it, leading the way to a 3,500-square foot fitness center.
The center replaces a smaller one on-site. The new center was built on ground that formerly was an outdoor swimming pool, a lifeguard house and grass.
There are wall-mounted televisions, treadmills, stationary bicycles, free weights, dumbbells and other new exercise machines, along with plenty of windows to make the room bright.
In all, the Northeast Y consists of 33,881 square feet. There are about 4,200 members.
“We’re hoping to grow to six-thousand,” said executive director Paula Green.
To help make that happen, the Y hosted a family fun night on Friday and an open house on Saturday afternoon.
Ramulis said she’s stayed all these years because of the camaraderie.
“The members are so sweet,” she said.
Among those attending the Nov. 3 ceremony were Scott Lewis, a senior group vice president of the YMCA of Philadelphia & Vicinity; Northeast Y board chairwoman Mary Anne Benner; state Rep. Dennis O’Brien; Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce president Al Taubenberger; aides to City Councilman Brian O’Neill, state Sen. Mike Stack and Mayor Michael Nutter; and the Y mascot.
“This is so well-needed in the Northeast,” Benner said.
Green, the executive director, explained that the nursery school has more than 100 children. The school will be moved into the former fitness center, which will be divided into three classrooms. The work should be completed in December.
The growth will allow the center to offer 17 fitness programs, including Zumba and teen strength.
“Everybody, get in there and get fit,” Green urged the crowd.
Now that the fitness center and fitness studio will be able to house programs, that will free up the gymnasium for basketball and other activities.
Green thanked the staff for their contributions during almost five months of construction and credited the members with understanding the need to expand.
“They have been directed door to door and space to space, but they have been more than patient,” she said.
O’Brien, who lives in the neighborhood, is a member. He addressed the crowd as “my fellow exercisers” and joked that he was feeling sentimental and wanted to say goodbye to his old workout machines.
“It’s a very welcoming place,” he said.
Green said the Northeast Y tries to keep membership rates affordable, adding that financial assistance is available.
The executive director explained that the Y hopes to install a family water park, with sprinklers, by next summer. It would be built at the site of the former baby pool. ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org