Exercisers revel in return to the North Brandon YMCA

The North Brandon YMCA resides in Seffner but serves the communities of the greater Brandon area.

Those members who were without the facility during the COVID-19 closures are thrilled to be back in the gym.

They call it a homecoming.

Crystal Shaughnessy said, "It felt like missing family. And knowing that they were going to be opening again, even my kids were like, 'Yes! We get to go back to the Y!'"

Elena Tewmey of Seffner said the time away was different for her and her daughters, Macee and Mali.

"It was tough," Elena says. "It was lonely. Just more stressful because there is not variety in your day."

The North Brandon Y is limiting the number of exercisers in group classes, taking reservations online, and limiting the capacity of workout areas to maintain social distancing.

Gail McGwire was getting right back in step in her Thursday morning Zumba class.

"I just fell right back into it," she said. "It's like I never left. They just welcomed me back and I just fell into their arms."

Richard Hogue of Brandon spent the past two months taking care of "honey do" items. This week, he embraced the reopening enthusiastically.

"I couldn't get back here soon enough, if for no other reason than to see all of these smiling faces," he laughed.

One of those smiling faces belongs to Heather Solomon. She's the executive director and has been smiling since the North Y reopened last Wednesday.

"To see the familiar faces, to see all of our regular members come back in, it really has been a blessing. And a reminder of who we are and what we do," she said.