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Many teenagers these days are looking for ways to stay healthy, and have fun while they’re doing it. Sure, they could go to a typical health club and get a good workout in, but at the new Independent Health YMCA on Tech Drive in Amherst, they can you can have a blast while doing it.

Whether you’re playing pick-up basketball or swimming in the pool, there’s something for the whole family to do at the YMCA. And having been a member for three months already, I think I can attest to that.

“It’s much more than your standard room full of equipment,” says Kathy Romanowski, communications director for the Greater Buffalo YMCA. “There’s something for the whole family to do here.”

Some of the main features of the new YMCA include:

Pools

There are two pools at the new facility: a 25-yard lap swimming pool, and a zero-depth entry pool, which means that there are no steps to get into the pool, it just gradually gets lower from your point of entry, much like an entry to an ocean. “It’s great for people who are handicapped, or using water therapy,” says Romanowski. “It’s also great for teaching swim lessons.”

Indoor running track

“When it’s cold and windy out, it’s a lot nicer to be able to run inside than outside,” says Romanowski.

The track is elevated above the two gyms, so you can also keep an eye on a younger sibling or child if they are playing basketball or another activity in one of the gyms.

Wellness center

The state-of-the-art wellness center features tons of different options, including treadmills, ellipticals, stair-steppers, stationary bikes and rowing machines. One of the coolest pieces of equipment is the Expresso stationary bikes. Users can make an account right there on the screen, and then bike along simulated courses that vary in length and difficulty. If you make an account, you can keep track of how many miles you’ve ridden, and the times you’ve gotten on different courses.

“There’s a wide variety of equipment available to use,” says Romanowski.

Gyms

My favorite feature of the new YMCA is the two, 7,700-square-foot gyms. Anytime you’re looking for a pickup basketball game, you can go there and find one, no matter what your skill level is. There are also many programs you can sign up for that take place in the gyms, like basketball and floor hockey leagues. The volunteers and workers there are extremely friendly and helpful.

Classes

The YMCA offers more than 100 fitness classes, ranging from Zumba and yoga to less common classes, like Hoopnotica (a hula-hoop exercise class) and ballroom dancing. The diversity of these classes just shows how there really is something for everyone in the family to do at the YMCA. And the best part – almost all of the courses are free with your membership, and, if not free, the classes are affordable.

“There’s a sense of community here,” says Romanowski. “It’s a place where everyone can get healthier, and do it together, as well.”

If you’re looking for a place to get in shape with your family and friends, and also have a blast doing it, the YMCA is the place for you.

For more information, visit www.ymcabuffaloniagara.org.

Sean Wright is a sophomore at Clarence High School.