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I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur of YMCAs. Wherever I am at, I check them out, if I can. In Indiana, I was a member of four different Ys, not at the same time, of course. I am a regular at Two Rivers YMCA in Moline, an excellent one.

I always remember what a young sportswriter from New Jersey told me about it three decades ago. He could not believe how nice that facility was. And it’s had two renovations/additions since then. It is still is an excellent place.

So is the main Bettendorf Y.

But I have to tell you, after first touring and then working out at the Muscatine Community Y, it is easily the finest Y I have ever been in.

Yes, it is large with 100,000 square feet. But it's a lot more than large. It's plenty useful.

A jogging/walking track with three lanes, a gigantic weight lifting area with tons of free weights, weight machines and cardio equipment, five racquetball courts, a spinning room, and two pools, one superbly heated for those who get cold easily. There is also a whirlpool area, good locker rooms and a common sense approach on locks and towels.

And two good-sized gyms for the basketball loving folks. Plus, the whole place is plenty clean.

In this entire region, this Y stands alone as the best. I would not be at all surprised if it’s one of the best in the country.

It reflects great corporate giving, great community leadership and, based on 9,500 members, a lot of people who get the importance of fitness.

Hats off to Muscatine.

In some ways, it reminded me of this great privately owned national fitness place I visited near Chicago a few years back. The Muscatine Y, much like that place, can’t help but inspire you to work out with all the activity going on around you.

I also liked the fact that the Big Brothers and Big Sisters and the Special Olympics had offices in the building. It makes a lot of sense, beside saving those two groups money.

But the kids adventure center or play area, the teen room that is open daily to all teens and features a ping pong table and TV, are also very nice things to have.

So are the meeting rooms for various civic/social groups.

I know there was a recent addition to the building that added the track, office space, an extra gym, and the coolest natural lighting plan I’ve ever seen, among other things. It was a good Y before that.

Now, it's definitely a great Y. 

I may change my schedule and start to come in earlier, just so I can work out there.

Special thanks: to Marv Krieger and the Muscatine Rotary Club for having me as a guest last Monday. Greatly appreciated.

Also a tip of the cap to Greg Jenkins,  Muscatine Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, for giving me a good tour of the city, and sharing some background as well. 

I will be meeting with some other community leaders next week and in the weeks ahead. We really do want to make this paper better. It’s not an ideal time to start, but then again, when is? But thanks to everyone who have reached out to welcome me. I hope one day soon, you can say we are giving you the paper you deserve.

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