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Today's Family Magazine

Lake County YMCA has something for everyone for fitness & fun

By Deanna Adams

Last fall began a new chapter for the 150-year-old West End YMCA.  While the organization remains in Willoughby, the branch has moved to what is now called the Union Village—a complex uniting Willoughby Middle School, Willoughby South High, the YMCA and the Willoughby Senior Center.  The campus, located off Shankland Road between Euclid Avenue and Ridge Road, supports the Y’s ongoing efforts to foster strong community connections.

The YMCA has always been a community-rich environment, stressing personal fitness, camaraderie and recreational activities.  The Lake County YMCA alone engages approximately 49,000 people a year through a variety of programs and annual membership.  The recent move, which includes a four-court field house with indoor walking/jogging track and multi-purpose aquatic center, is expected to increase that number.

“The great thing about this move is that we can continue to offer all our programs, but now we can do it on a bigger scale and reach more people,” says executive director, Sherry Emerick.  “We have two indoor, heated pools—a recreational pool for open swim and classes, and the school’s eight-lane competition pool.  So we’re able to serve the community for all ages and abilities.”  The YMCA also provides lifeguards.

Another feature of the West End YMCA includes comfortable viewing access to the pool, and a splash/play area for young children.  There is also a nice space for parents to watch other family members participate in classes while their small children are in the child watch area.  The fee for child watch is $2 per month for members.  There are also after-school programs, and a free drop-in program where a parent can take a break and drop off their child so they can swim or exercise without worry, or perhaps enjoy a night out for a quiet dinner at a nearby restaurant for two hours.  The Y child care programs are licensed by the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services.

In addition, the new facility boasts four basketball courts, along with a large shared space for people to congregate.  “The social area is particularly welcome for students who want to hang out after school, do homework, or just relax with friends,” says Emerick, who has worked at six different locations in a YMCA career that spans 38 years.

The programs and classes encompass recreational sports, personal fitness, group exercise, strength training, group cycling and more.  Popular programs and sports activities include pickleball for adults, teen dodgeball, as well as gym & swim and martial arts for kids. 
And for seniors, ages 55 and older, the Y offers a number of exercise programs, and accepts Silver Sneakers members.  There is also a wellness center, located on the second floor, that features state-of-the-art strength and cardio equipment, exercise studio and coed steam and sauna rooms.

The YMCA has always been a great place for children, offering a number of programs and classes that nurture the values, skills, and social relationships that are so important to a young person’s education, socialization, and overall health.  Along with swim lessons and other sports activities, there are the ever-popular summer day camps where kids can explore and experience new adventures, cultivate friendships, and create lasting memories.

“We also have our 5K race coming up on Sunday, May 3, which is our biggest family event,” Emerick notes.  The annual 5K or two-mile brings together hundreds of runners and walkers of all ages.  The race starts and finishes at the West End YMCA.  The age groups for teams span from 10 and younger, to 70 and older.

“The partnerships are going great,” Emerick says of the new complex. “We’ve all worked hard to make this a smooth transition and it’s all been hugely successful.  It has certainly been a great addition to the community and we’re all excited about the future.”

For a full list of amenities and programs, see, or call (440) 946-1160.  The West End YMCA is located at 36909 Ridge Road in Willoughby.