South Charlotte

Large crowd greets opening of Sara’s Y

The rooftop terrace at Sara’s Y in Ballantyne offers an outdoor space for working out or relaxing.
The rooftop terrace at Sara’s Y in Ballantyne offers an outdoor space for working out or relaxing.

Sunday is considered by some to be the slowest day at Charlotte area YMCAs, but 130 people were lined up at the door at the new Sara’s Y in Ballantyne Corporate Park at noon on its opening Sunday.

YMCA of Charlotte’s newest facility boasted about 1,000 members less than two weeks after its opening. Yoga classes are drawing 40-50 people, and a group exercise class had 85, said Steve Bowers, YMCA of Greater Charlotte community vice president.

“People really like the convenience of it,” he said.

Sara’s Y opened on Feb. 27 in a space provided by Ballantyne developer Smoky Bissell. The Y is named after Bissell’s late wife Sara Harris Bissell, who died in 2009 and was known for getting people involved in the community.

A large painting of Sara Bissell hangs in The Hub, the oversized lobby in Sara’s Y that was created to be a gathering place.

“I was overwhelmed with how beautiful it was and then to walk in and feel like a family is greeting you, it just felt so great,” said Tammy Travis, a member of Sara’s Y and tenant of Ballantyne Corporate Park.

“I am excited to work out again in a new facility and try some of the new group exercises classes, especially hot yoga.”

Sara’s Y, which is about 24,000 square feet of airy, wide space, replaces the Ballantyne Village Y. It is the fourth adults-only Y in the Charlotte area. Bowers said the Morrison Y, which is less than a mile away, has extensive programs and facilities for families and children.

“Sara’s Y is a great addition to the Ballantyne Corporate Park,” said David Huss, a Sara’s Y member and YMCA board member. “The cutting edge design and layout provide lots of open space for many types of workouts.​”

Sara’s Y is geared toward people who work in Ballantyne Corporate community. It’s a tech-savvy space, where members can work out on machines that feed the data to their smart phone or personal fitness tracker. They soon will be able to order a sandwich on a smart phone app and pick it up at a café in the lobby.

The facility offers popular workout experiences, Bowers said. There’s a dedicated yoga studio that can heat to 107 degrees and cool down in 15 minutes, a studio with TRX suspension training equipment and functional training equipment that can be used on what’s called the Y’s “adult playground.”

“You can come to the Y on a beautiful day, take equipment outside and work out, take a shower and get back to your office,” Bowers said.

Sara’s Y also has plenty of cardio workout machines and weight machines as well as a large group exercise room. Carolinas Rehabilitation Center has an office upstairs for walk-in clients, a model that has been successful at the Harris Y, Bowers said.

Bowers said everything from the design to the staff of Sara’s Y is geared toward helping members connect with the community. Staff members are trained to answer questions about volunteerism, and television screens broadcast information on how members can give back to the community.

Sara’s Y is currently working with MetLife in Ballantyne to plan a service project for 175 employees.

“That takes it off the company to figure out what to do,” Bowers said.

The Y already has plans to add 50 more parking spaces.

At the opening ceremony, Smoky Bissell said he hopes Sara’s Y will be a catalyst in the community for volunteerism.

“We hope that you all have the best of all days and enjoyment here at Sara’s Y,” he said.

Marty Minchin is a freelance writer:

Learn more

Sara’s Y is available to all YMCA members with a metro membership. For employees who work in Ballantyne Corporate Park, monthly membership is $46 for use of only Sara’s Y.

Prices for Metro Memberships, which allow access to all YMCAs in the United States, are available at “My Y Pricing” calculates membership rates based on annual household income and the number of people in a household.

Sara’s Y is at 15940 Brixham Hill Ave., and the facility is open 5 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5 a.m.-8 p.m. Fridays, 7 a.m.-4 p.m Saturdays and 12 p.m.-4 p.m.Sundays.