The Association has come up with an innovative way to add members.
By SEAN BARRON
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
WARREN -- John and Crystle Constiner looked at several gyms before deciding on the Young Women's Christian Association.
The Constiners said they enjoy exercising together -- something they could not have done at the Warren YWCA before it opened a new coed fitness studio six weeks ago.
Now, men and women can work out together for the first time in the facility's 85-year history.
John said he's proud he lost 28 pounds in three weeks of Monday-through-Thursday workouts. Crystle said she feels less self-conscious and intimidated about staying in shape.
The Warren couple also likes having day-care costs for their three children included in their YWCA membership.
Preparation: Blaine Begalla, 13, spent a few minutes spotting his mother, Beverly Begalla, as she began lifting free weights. The Edison Junior High School pupil said he likes using the coed fitness room to prepare for his school's football team.
"It's an opportunity for us to spend quality time together," said Beverly Begalla, who teaches at her son's Niles school.
Addressing needs: The idea behind the coed addition was to address the needs of a larger segment of the population, said Jennifer Mayorga, fitness and aerobics coordinator.
Mayorga said that before the studio opened in early June, men were allowed to take part in aerobics classes or use the pool. However, few attended aerobics, further limiting their options, she added.
Husbands and wives, for example, can now stay in shape using the Precor elliptical, as well as an incline bench, weights and other equipment in the coed studio. The elliptical is a "Nordic Track, stair climber and bike combined into one," and is good for people of all ages with joint problems, Mayorga said.
The coed room offers a wider variety of equipment for men and women because the workout machines are different than those in an adjacent exercise room exclusively for women, she said.
Some members initially feared the coed studio would replace the "women only" room, but others wanted the facility to adopt more of a family focus, Mayorga pointed out.
Promoting teams: The YWCA is also trying to promote more high school sports teams, she said.
Lynn Miller, executive director, said many members wanted the YWCA to upgrade its equipment, something not done since the early 1980s. The facility also had extra space to expand, allowing it to address the needs of women who wanted their husbands, sons or boyfriends to join them.
"We began looking at this seriously at the end of last year," Miller said.
Miller predicted the additional studio would provide more access to girls who participate in high school sports. Many girls' teams have male coaches and the new fitness room will allow coaches to work more closely with team members, she said.
Beverly Begalla mentioned the YWCA's non-competitive environment, saying it has given her an added incentive to continue working out.
"It's a perfect atmosphere," she said. "It doesn't matter if you're 25 or 65."
The Warren YWCA has always tried to focus on women's needs, said Shari Harrell, treasurer. Having newer equipment, as well as allowing men more access, should fulfill many members' wishes, she said.
XAn open house will be Aug. 27 at the YWCA. For more information, call Eileen Catanzaro at (330) 373-1010.