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Finding Fun in Fitness

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Juan Castro at YMCA east hampton

As the trees begin to show their bare limbs, and Holiday shopping and eating seem to be all the buzz – fitness and well being remains as important as ever for members of the community.
This winter season, the YMCA East Hampton RECenter, located on Gingerbread Lane in Easthampton has nearly 6000 members taking advantage of all the facility has to offer. Among many activities offered for people of all ages are a technology center, an indoor pool, fitness equipment, foosball tables and ping-pong.
Juan Castro, executive director, added that for these colder months, there are so many things that people can enjoy doing within the facility, protected from the elements.
“The biggest crisis in our country is health,” Castro said on Friday. “The United States is one of the top five in obesity on the planet. Health care is skyrocketing and it’s become a national crisis.”
Castro suggests a simple solution for this problem. “Fitness. It’s the most important thing and the most cost-effective. What can be more important than that?” Castro explained that health cover for those not paying attention to their personal overall well-being can become costly, and by just taking part in one of the many activities that the center has to offer, one can reduce the likelihood of many diseases and sicknesses.
Castro also said that not only for people’s well-being is fitness important, but it also helps build strong relationships and create positive energy. “Fitness is Critical,” he said.
“Not many people know that YMCA was started in the 1850’s,” said Castro, “There was homelessness and starvation – children were working 13-hour days seven days a week. YMCA began as a shelter for those in need.”
Castro explained that the YMCA became particularly important this time of year, when shelter during the cold months is nearly essential. He said that the YMCA created indoor sports like basketball and volleyball, because of the gymnasiums that the facility began to build.
“The YMCA facilities offered shelter, but some also had libraries, chapels and fitness centers,” said Castro. Now, according to him, there are nearly 60 million YMCA’s worldwide.
Although the building in Easthampton does not have a chapel connected with it, it does offer numerous fitness activities and nearly half a dozen computers where research or Internet surfing can be done. In addition this building houses an indoor swimming pool where national champions practice but also allows for those just looking for a leisurely swim. All the fitness equipment in the building, like elliptical machines and treadmills, are less than one and half years old, according to Castro.
Right now, the center has nearly 15% of Easthampton town’s residents attending. Castro said of that percentage, half are under 21 years old and 25% are seniors.
“The reason is simple,” he said, “both of these groups have time on their hands.”
Schools utilizing the facility for swimming include the Easthampton High School, the Child Development Center of the Hamptons, Stella Marris, Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor Elementary School. Easthampton RECreation center also has an outpost in Montauk, located within Gurneys Inn, where the Montauk Students can attend.
“We have two pools open all year long and we are the only indoor pool east of Westhampton, besides Gurneys,” Castro said “some of our clients think they are whales, just swimming back and forth, back and forth all day long.”
At the Easthampton site, there is a 25 yard heated lap pool and a heated instruction pool. There is also a multipurpose room for aerobics, fitness and cultural arts. The center also has a rock climbing wall, outdoor basketball courts and a teen center. Classes offered include ballet, tap, karate ballroom dancing and swim lessons – all schedules available on their website. Castro said that anyone can rent out the facility for different celebrations or parties, especially for birthday parties where kids can enjoy the ping-pong and foosball tables.
“Its important for people to know that we have financial assistance for those eligible,” Castro said, “So there is no reason not to participate.”
Easthampton RECcenter is located at 2 Gingerbread Lane in Easthampton. Their website is www.ymcali.org and can be reached at (631) 329-6884