NORWALK, Conn. – Joyce Quinlan and Colleen O’Brien have been teaching Spinning classes for a combined 15 years at the Norwalk YMCA. But at the end of this month, they and their students will be searching for a new home to meet, exercise and, hopefully, maintain the family atmosphere that has become part of their daily lives.
“The Spinning program has been so joyful, the members are so awesome,’’ said O’Brien, coordinator of the program. “It’s just sad to think we won’t be together.”
Spinning, which is indoor cycling on a stationary bike, is one of many programs affected by the demise of the Norwalk YMCA, which announced last week it will close Dec. 31 due to declining enrollment and the escalating cost of maintaining the facility on West Avenue.
Spinning, however, has been a popular recreational pursuit for many. Many riders who spend warmer months outside on bicycles move inside in winter. A group from the Norwalk Y also participates annually in SpinOdyssey in spring to raise money for breast cancer research. Last year, 20 team members helped raise $34,000, O’Brien said. Quinlan, a breast cancer survivor, served as the team co-captain with Erin Wathen and O’Brien.
“I was speechless when I found out it was closing,’’ said Quinlan, who has been a Y member since 1989. “I started to cry. I was like, there’s no way. We have created such a nice, friendly atmosphere. And where are the kids going to go now. I fill up my car every Friday night and they come down here and swim. We try to keep kids off the road and keep them healthy and fit. Now where are they going to go?”
Spinning is popular among parents who have their children enrolled in YMCA programs. The parents can drop children at activities and get their workout, all under one roof.
“The Y is a family place,’’ O’Brien said. “You can pick your daughter up at ballet or the kids at the basketball court after you’re done your class. Now we’re not going to have that.”
O’Brien and Quinlan were part of a group of Y members and friends who purchased 17 new Spinning bikes in the past year. “Do you know,’’ Quinlan said, “how many cupcakes I baked to help get those bikes?” The Spinning room was recently remodeled and painted. It was also teeming with riders. The Norwalk Y’s other Spinning instructors are Chris Klimek, Shelly Goldman, Leslie Andrews, Erin Wathen, Eleni Soures, Aracely Feighery, Denise Jansson, Ed Oberholtzer, Brandon Rush, Karen Oerth and Terri Polley.
But when the Y closes, the bikes, the instructors and the family atmosphere will be broken up. “I wish we could pick up the room and plop it somewhere,’’ O’Brien said. “We’re not going to be able to re-create that magic that we have now. It’s such a shame.”