Y’s ‘quest’ creates new vision after racquetball


Deann Forman has a confession to make: She only works about 50 feet away from a fitness center, yet still never seems to find the time to work out.

Although the chief executive of The Riverdale Y is a bit embarrassed to state that fact, Forman takes responsibility for the reasons why she hasn’t followed through on keeping up with a fitness routine.

“I think part of the reason is it’s so easy just to get sucked into my day,” she said.

“From the moment that I walk into the door, I turn on my computer and I’m just click-clacking and typing and on the phone in meetings, and busy, busy, busy. And when it comes to me, telling myself that I need to take care of myself and work out, I sort of make myself the last priority.”

But with the introduction of Quest Training Studio — the 5625 Arlington Ave., facility’s new fitness space — Forman feels like it might be the start of a new wellness path.

“One of the things that I like about the idea of Quest Training Studio is that I have to register for the class,” she said, “and I’m making the a commitment to be there to participate in the class. It’s impacting someone else, not just me.”

The Y formally opened its doors to Quest Training Studio on Sept. 15, and is currently offering a free trial month for interested participants. Classes include kickboxing, high-intensity interval training known as HIIT, and sports-specific training. There also are classes geared toward kids and teens.

People who end up utilizing the free trial month don’t even have to join The Y afterward, because it’s open to both Quest members and regular Y members.

Quest replaces what was once The Y’s racquetball court, which closed in the spring after the organization looked to save $1.5 million needed to help pay for the state’s minimum wage increase along with other factors like health insurance costs and rising union salaries.

“All of those things mean we need to figure out where we can earn more revenue and trim expenses all over the place,” Forman said. “This felt like an opportunity where we could use an existing space to generate significantly more revenue without having to increase fees across the board for everybody.”

Forman and the rest of The Y team had thought about what to do with the racquetball court space for a year before landing on an idea that felt fitting.

“We knew for a long time that we needed to use that space in a better way that could serve more people,” she said.

“But we weren’t willing to make the change until we thought we came up with the right solution.”

One of the questions Forman said people asked a lot was whether or not the space was going to used as a spin studio. But for The Y, it raised a lot of logistical questions.

“We were concerned that if we set it up as a spin studio, you’re not going to have 20 hours a day of spin classes,” she said. “But those bikes have to live somewhere, and it would just take up a whole bunch of space that we then would not be able to use … for any other purposes.”

Quest also introduces a “build your own tribe” program, where program members interested in taking classes with up to six of their friends can work with The Y to create a class schedule that fits their needs.

“You get to have your own private small group fitness class that you get to participate in week after week,” Forman said.

Creating a community within small fitness classes is something Forman and members of her team like fitness director Nadeem Kazi hope to accomplish with Quest.

“The thing about group classes is that you could go into a class the first week and you don’t know anybody,” Kazi said. But “by the second or third week, you just made a whole bunch of new friends, so it’s a great experience all around.”

The two also hope that new space will attract The Y’s existing members, too.

“The majority of people who belong to The Y are families with school-aged children and older adults, and those people will still be here and still be comfortable being here,” Forman said. “There will be a lot more to offer for the parents of those children, and there will be a lot more to offer for some of the active adults in the community that are looking for interesting opportunities as well.”

Kazi is most excited about the energy prospective young newcomers could bring to the facility.

“I think it’s going to help us reach a different audience that we might not be getting,” he said. “It’s going to bring new eyes and new attention.”

When she thinks about what Quest can do for her on a personal level, Forman anticipates it will soon motivate her to walk the short distance to the room where all the magic fitness happens.

“I think it might be the kind of thing that I need to kickstart myself into taking better care of my own health and wellness,” she said.

But when she puts on her chief executive hat, Forman wants to make sure Quest will give them the same push to “progress on their path of wellness as well.”

Forman: “I hope everyone finds the thing that speaks to them.”