Hidden fitness gem at Heinz Beach offers quiet alternative to Turner


Toni Douglass, of Boardman, Ohio, exercises at the Fitness Center at Heinz Beach on Monday morning. The center offers equipment for cardio and strength training and is open six days each week. Photo by Ellie Haugsby.

Patrick Hosken | Staff Writer

Down on the waterfront of Chautauqua Lake, directly next to Seaver Gymnasium, sits the Youth Activities Center. If you’ve been around Chautauqua for long enough, you know that. What you might not know is what lies just beneath the ping pong table, the video games and the grilled burgers of the YAC — the modest workout facility at Heinz Beach.

Smaller than its counterpart at Turner Community Center, the Fitness Center at Heinz Beach still boasts three treadmills, three elliptical machines, two stationary bicycles, a range of free weights, a rowing machine and more. Heinz added a new abdominal and back strengthening machine this year. There also are two dance studios that host fitness programs through Chautauqua Health and Fitness when they are not in use by Special Studies classes.

The Fitness Center at Heinz Beach is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Because of its lakeside position, Heinz has no televisions, said Chautauqua Health and Fitness manager Andy Freay. A wall of windows around the front door of the facility encourages fitness patrons to enjoy the natural scene.

“It’s got a killer view of the lake,” Freay said. “We don’t put TVs down there because we want people to enjoy the lake.”

Courtney Shaffer has worked at Heinz Fitness for the last three years. She said the lack of TVs also allows those exercising to enjoy both the inside and outside of the facility.

“It’s not as noisy,” Shaffer said. “People go out on the porch and work out sometimes if they want to.”

So, with all these amenities, why is Heinz still the runner-up for exercise here at Chautauqua?

“It’s all about: What do you want? If you want to swim the pool, you’ve got to come to Turner,” Freay said. “If you want to use the basketball court or have more of a variety of equipment, come (to Turner).”

While Turner has more to offer, Heinz holds a core group of “regulars,” Shaffer said. About five people come in to use the facility every morning, she said, and some even have favorite machines.

“We don’t have as much equipment, but for anyone who doesn’t live up there (by Turner), this is much more convenient,” Shaffer said.

The best part about Heinz, Shaffer said, is its peaceful and calm environment. While Turner stays busy almost all day, Heinz has a small rush when it opens at 7 a.m. then stays relatively quiet for the rest of the day.

In addition, Chautauqua Health and Fitness offers one-day passes for only $10, good at both Turner and Heinz fitness locations. It’s these qualities that make exercising on the grounds easy and enjoyable, Shaffer said.

So, when Turner’s packed, or if you feel the need for a spontaneous workout, the Fitness Center at Heinz Beach is waiting for you.

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