MERIDEN — Beat the Street Community Center in Meriden offers free memberships that include boxing classes and dance lessons.
Sean Bell of Meriden has been involved with Beat the Street since its inception. Bell became a member of the center at 15 years old and now, 25 years later, he is the director of fitness. Bell said anyone can become a member and take classes at the non-profit center, located at 121 S. Colony St.
“We get kids from out of town that would never be around city kids, and they benefit from that,” Bell said of the community center’s diversity.Programs
At 4:30 p.m. on a recent day, the community center began to fill with kids eager to train. Beat the Street offers boxing classes and fitness instruction for all ages.
Bell took a group of boys through a series of warmups as music played throughout the center.
Equipment such as boxing gloves and belts were available to participants.
The Beat the Street Dance Crew, comprised of girls of various ages, began practice in the backroom at 5:30 p.m.Facility
The facility is complete with two boxing rings, protective equipment, and a number of heavy bags securely hanging from the ceiling.
Toward the entrance of the facility bikes, treadmills, and ellipticals can be used for cardio.
Adjacent to this is a section where members can strength train using machines and free weights.
Heavy bags placed on the ground were used for warmup drills as were jump ropes and an agility ladder.Membership options
Bell said the community center is inclusive of all ability levels, races and religions.
“We have a 5-year-old to a 69-year-old,” Bell said.
He added, “A parent can come and bring his or her kid to the class and also work out.”
Members of the youth programs go on weekly excursions with Bell.
“We do field trips every Wednesday,” Bell said of their outings to local businesses.Community involvement
“We do boxing events, dance shows and this past summer we did a singing talent show on the (Meriden) Green,” Bell said.
Bell said Larry Pelletier, the executive director of Beat the Street, has expanded the programs offered in recent years.
The center caters to those who may not be able to afford paying traditional monthly gym dues.
“Some of these kids they’re going to be in here from elementary (school) and up,” Bell said. Health benefits
Both boxing and dance require an immense amount of coordination and agility.
In addition to the physical benefits of the programs offered at Beat the Street, Bell emphasized the importance of comaraderie among members.
“These guys end of being friends for years and years, like some of my friends. I get to teach some of my friends’ kids now,” said Bell.
Discipline is also a central theme of the programs offered as the kids learn to succeed in structured activities.
“If you want to get a good workout this is the place to be, and you build community,” said Bell.
For more information about Beat the Street visit beatthestreetcommunitycenter.org.