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Editor's note: This commentary is part of an ongoing series of guest columns about the Southlake YMCA and its upcoming $35 million transformation to the Crown Point facility.

Older adults who are active at the Southlake YMCA are living proof that “you’re only as old as you feel.” Drawn to the Y because of programs that meet their needs and interests, they share classes, exercise and friendship.

“The Y is such a good thing in our lives,” Annette Allegretti said.

She enjoys the aqua class, Joyful Joints, three times a week.

“We laugh together. We have a great group of ladies,” she said.

Although she knows exercise is important, Annette said it’s the camaraderie that keeps her coming back.

Annette’s husband Joe is a fan of the Senior Boot Camp. In fact, he was behind its creation. Bored with walking on the treadmill, Joe saw a boot camp class that looked like fun, then lobbied for a version geared to seniors.

“It’s nothing really strenuous, but it keeps us going,” Joe said.

The group enjoys some traditions, such as a yearly Christmas breakfast and a monthly lunch. They wear matching T-shirts advertising “Senior Boot Camp —Sweating with the Oldies.”

Judy Stearns said the Southlake Y staff and members are like a second family. Calls are made and cards are sent when someone is in the hospital. When a classmate recently passed away, members attended the funeral.

“I’ve made some close friends through the Y,” Stearns said. “When you’re with people three times a week, you make good friends. You’re there when something happens.”

Diane Fraser has appreciated the Y’s supportive atmosphere. When recovering from serious health issues, she joined the Y because her health insurance covered half the cost of membership. She started walking on the treadmill with a goal of completing the Hub Run 2K. Coming from a family of runners, it was a moment of triumph for Fraser when she crossed the finish line.

She has since branched out into some of the Y’s water- and land-based classes that are geared toward seniors and included free with membership.

“You need to keep socially active as well as physically active. The Y is where you can do that,” said Fraser, noting she also has participated in several Y trips that are offered several times a year.

The new Southlake Y, slated to open January 2019, will offer even more opportunities for older adults to remain healthy and active.

Joe Allegretti has rallied behind the fundraising campaign for the new facility, spearheading a successful effort to raise $1,000 from Senior Boot Camp members.

The Y is close to reaching its fundraising goals for the new facility and is working to raise $400,000 more in the local community.

For information on the fundraising campaign, call Pat Huber at 219-757-3739. For information on the YMCA, go to www.crymca.org/southlakeycampaign.

Chris Mallers is executive director of the Southlake YMCA in Crown Point. The opinions are the writer's.