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New YMCA a real gem

April 08, 2002|BY Tony Mulieri

The new Hagerstown YMCA has been open for about three months now and I have to say I like the place.

It has grown on me.

After nearly 25 years as a member at the old YMCA on North Potomac Street, I had grown accustomed to the place. The old Y had a certain feel to it. It felt like a gym.

The new Y feels different. It's like driving a new car - you have to find out things as you go.

It took me a couple of weeks to "find" my workout at the new Y. Some days my "workout" consists of hitting the steam room and then taking a shower - not exactly a cardiovascular blueprint to physical fitness. But on other days, I make it to the fitness center to ride the stationary bike and pump some weight machines.

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One of the biggest differences I've found at the new Y is that it is so well lighted. I now realize I was getting dressed in a cave-like setting at the old Y's locker room. There were probably some stalagmite and stalactite formations down there and I didn't even notice.

Of course, with light comes the truth. I didn't see all those blemishes and love handles at the old Y. Now, I try not to look in the mirror as much. And there are a lot of mirrors in the new Y.

And there is a bigger crowd, about double the membership of the old Y.

Some evenings have been so crowded I have felt like I walked into the Wal-Mart of physical fitness, but that's a good thing. It shows there were many local residents who were interested in the YMCA and all it offers but didn't like its downtown location for one reason or another.

The Eastern Boulevard location has proven to be a popular place.

Now, I'm not a traffic engineer by any stretch of the road, but it appears to me that a traffic light is needed at the entrance to the new Y. I don't recall reading about any serious accidents at that intersection yet, but the situation is ripe for one with cars darting in and out of the Y's entrance while the heavy traffic continues to flow along Eastern Boulevard.

One of the beefs about the old Y was that it was hard to find a parking spot. Well, with all the new members at the new Y, the parking lot is nearly full in the evenings. A lot of nights, just about all the spaces are full and cars are parked along the edges of the curbing.

You could make a case for opening a satellite Y somewhere else in the county to ease some of the pressure off the new Y. But that's for the Y to decide. I'm hoping that once the weather gets nicer, the situation will improve as people do more things outdoors.

But if you haven't had a chance to visit the new Y, you should make a point to stop by.

It is a jewel.

The place is clean and spacious.

The pool area is gorgeous with a wall of windows that let the sunlight stream down on the swimmers.

There seems to be something for everyone, especially the little ones who are just getting their first glimpse of YMCA activities.

And through all the growing pains and membership crush, the staff at the front desk has come through it all still smiling.

My only problem is that I have caught myself a couple of times driving downtown to the old Y before turning around and heading for Eastern Boulevard.

Old habits are hard to change.

Tony Mulieri is managing editor of The Daily Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, extension 7647, or by e-mail at tonym@herald-mail.com.

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