A bigger and better Y

It’s fun to be at the ex­pan­ded North­east Fam­ily YMCA in the Far North­east.

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 twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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