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Local YMCAs beef up equipment

Sterling Y unveils new strength gear; Dixon facility overhauls cardio offerings

It’s OK to scratch your head a little when you see all the new, cutting-edge equipment at the local YMCAs.

Just ask Lindsey Kerley, senior operations director at the Dixon Family YMCA, who’s super-fit but was a touch overwhelmed when she saw the facility’s new arc trainers, which are similar to ellipticals but cause less impact.

“We’re creatures of habit, and it’s hard to get out of our comfort zone,” Kerley said. “But now I notice a difference in my body. I’ve done the same thing for years, and there wasn’t a whole lot of change. I’d hit a plateau. I can definitely feel the increase in my stamina.”

The Dixon Y got its new gear in mid-November, thanks to the extension of its partnership with KSB Hospital, which will provide $205,000 toward services and equipment for the Y over the next 10 years.

More recently, the Sterling-Rock Falls Family YMCA replaced every piece of equipment in its strength room. All three local Ys – including the recently opened wellness center at Sauk Valley Community College – have modern Cybex machines, some of them handicapped-accessible.

The Sauk Y has four Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant strength-training machines, the Dixon Y has five machines (two cardio and three strength), and the Sterling Y will soon add a handicapped-accessible recumbent stepper machine to its cardio room. The StepOne from SCIFIT is a machine ideal for rehabilitation, similar to the outdated NuStep machine it’s replacing. It’s one of the five pieces already in place in Dixon.

The Sterling gear was unveiled Saturday morning, and by Monday morning, a diverse crowd – made up of young, old, buff and beginner – was trying out each of the 20 strength machines in the circuit.

“I’m really happy people are asking questions,” said Ashley Richter, engagement director at the Sterling-Rock Falls Y. “We’re here to help, especially with this equipment specifically. It’s all very scientific-based. Cybex does a lot of testing and makes sure it’s going to work you out the best it can.”

Bob Doyle, 63, a 6-year member at the Y who spends an hour lifting every day, can attest to the machines’ effectiveness.

“I hurt in different places,” Doyle said, smiling.

He urges folks – and not just seniors – to ask questions, rather than get frustrated … or worse.

“I do ask questions,” Doyle said. “For some folks, if they don’t get it, they give up and move on. Every machine in here is here for a purpose.”

“If you have questions and you don’t ask them, you’re going to end up hurting yourself,” said another member, Annette Van Landuit. “There are always lots of people around ready to help, so never feel bad about asking.”

Visual learner? Each machine has a picture of the muscle sets it can work, often depending on which grip is used.

In addition to the Cybex machines, Sterling replaced all its plate weights, free weights and benches, and gave the room a fresh coat of paint – tied in with the color scheme in the logos on each machine.

Little details like that – as well as the ability to easily adjust weight by 5-pound increments, and the cellphone holder – got Lindsay Hardt’s attention. Hardt, 36 and a mother of five who have all participated in Y programs, has been a member more than 10 years.

“I’m a detail person, so I’m very impressed,” she said.

New, smooth, innovative machines are a breath of fresh air for her muscles.

“You have a lot more choices,” Hardt said. “The equipment is a lot more versatile. I like the circuit, and that you can go around and do everything.”

Unlike the old machines, many of these allow members to work out one arm at a time – crucial for guys like Doyle, who’s had six surgeries on his left shoulder.

Whereas Sterling upgraded its strength space, Dixon replaced its cardio gear: treadmills, recumbent and stationary bikes, rowers, ellipticals, steppers and, perhaps most notably, arc trainers.

“When you look at the motion of the arc trainer, that’s a much more natural motion that replicates walking, running and climbing,” Kerley said, adding that even the most modern ellipticals can still place unwelcome stress on ankles, knees and other joints.

Each Y’s staff appreciates that members can use any of the three facilities, allowing them to gauge how popular pieces are before other sites might invest in more gear.

“We didn’t know what, specifically, would fly, and there’s room for expansion in future years,” Kerley said.


Wellness staff at each local YMCA are available to help explain new equipment, and personal trainer sessions are also available at the Sterling-Rock Falls and Dixon facilities.

Representatives from Cybex were at the Dixon Y in November for orientation to the gear, and will be on hand Jan. 19 in Sterling for more training sessions. Staff will be trained that day, but Ashley Richter, engagment director, said members from any of the Ys may sign up to attend either the 2 to 3:30 p.m. or 5 to 6:30 p.m. sessions.

Those who would like to attend should sign up at the desk at 2505 Ave. E in Sterling, or call 815-535-9622. Email Richter at for more information.

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