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Penobscot Bay Press
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News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, October 1, 2020
Public gets “sneak preview” of new fitness center

Finishing touches

Workers check out the entrance to the new Lawrence Family Fitness Center, in preparation for the Friday, October 2, Sneak preview. To attend, guests are required to sign up for the event at the Tradewinds service center. Social distancing and masks will be required. Groups will be limited to a maximum of 10.

Photo by Jeffrey B. Roth Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Jeffrey B. Roth

Prior to the projected grand opening of the Lawrence Family Fitness Center, sometime in mid-October or early November, area residents will have a “sneak preview” of the 13,000-square-foot facility on Friday and Saturday, October 2 and 3 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Located behind Tradewinds Market Place, the facility includes a six-lane swimming pool, a state-of-the-art fitness training center and an aerobics studio. Chuck and Belinda Lawrence, owners of Tradewinds Markets and other businesses, embarked on their quest to provide the facility two decades ago, Chuck Lawrence said.

“We’re looking at the first of November for opening up the pool,” Lawrence said. “It all depends on the pool…if we get water in the pool in the next two weeks. We’ll open the fitness side before then. The opening of the pool is still a month to six weeks away.”

The sneak preview and walk through of the $5.2 million facility, which will be operated by the Down East Family YMCA, will be held from 9 a.m., to 3 p.m., he said. Groups will be limited to 10 individuals, so that social distancing can be maintained. Masks will be required. The public can sign up for the walk through at the service desk of Tradewinds, Lawrence said.

“It’s been a longer process than I expected,” Lawrence said in a telephone interview. “COVID caused a little bit of a problem; I also did not know about the magnitude and complexity of putting in a fitness center with a pool.”

Lawrence said he had experience with building stores. Building a public facility, which includes a pool, however, required adhering to numerous federal and state regulations.

“It’s going to be beautiful,” Lawrence added. “I have no regrets at all. It’s all well-worth the effort. We want to get it open as a thank you to all the customers we’ve had over the years. We’ve had a great relationship with the community and this will be a lot of fun to give them this gift.”

During his high school years, Lawrence played basketball, every afternoon after school, at the YMCA, in Augusta. He also swam in the pool and worked out in the gym.

“This is more than a pool,” Lawrence said. “It’s a state-of-the-art fitness center. It is going to be an amazing facility.”

“The [fitness] equipment is intense,” said Peter Farragher, CEO of the Down East Family YMCA in Ellsworth. “We are utilizing Matrix equipment, along with a state-of-the-art Move Strong functional-training apparatus. There is a whole bunch of cardio equipment to meet all levels of fitness needs. We also have a full-range of free weight with TRX equipment, a Smith machine and a variety of benches.”

The Lawrence family has a tradition of giving back to the community. Beginning in 2012, they have donated more than $1 million to fight cancer. A penny on every gallon of gas sold at their stores, is donated to area hospitals and cancer treatment programs.