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The YMCA’s Sarah Wright cheers on a member as she slams the workout ropes.

The Chatham YMCA’s Red Rover fitness truck delivers mobile workouts

By Hannah Lee | Photography by HuthPhoto

When it comes to getting in shape, one of our readers’ favorite spots to exercise is the Chatham YMCA in Pittsboro, recognized in our Best of Chatham poll both this year and in 2018. With 1,600 members, Chatham’s only YMCA branch moved into a new location on East Street last year. And this fall marks the return of its unmistakable fitness truck, the Red Rover.

The big red van looks like a food truck, but rather than offering empty calories, it carries everything from dumbbells and mats to step risers and push-pull sleds. The Red Rover started making stops in late September in Chapel Ridge as part of a weekly workout program for residents of that neighborhood. Coach Sarah Wright, the Chatham YMCA healthy living director, spearheads the Red Rover program and teaches some of its classes.

Red Rover workouts include TRX Suspension Training, which uses resistance bands attached to the van.

“If you love being outdoors,” then you’ll love this workout, she says. “We have a new class called the Vigorous 6.0. You’re using your speed, strength, power and coordination with all this new equipment. You know, in a group exercise studio, we don’t have tires you can flip. We don’t have sleds you can push. These classes are really going to push you to your hardest limit.”

The Vigorous 6.0 workout often involves splitting the class into two groups: the first group starts with strengthening sets at the van and the second group does aerobics with step-decks and barbells. The Red Rover also has TRX suspension bands that can attach at the top of the van so participants can lift their body weight in suspended pushups and rows. Red Rover also has the potential to benefit Chatham residents who live far from the Y or in rural areas. For instance, the Rover can set up classes in Siler City, which has no YMCA branch but has almost double the residents of Pittsboro.

 “[Chapel Ridge] is also a community where it’s … still in Chatham County, but they only have a gym and aqua Zumba,” Sarah says. “So we wanted to help their community as well.”

A Red Rover workout offers benefits no indoor class can match, Sarah says. The mobile nature of the truck gets people outside and out of their routine while also introducing non- members to fitness programs at the Y. Sarah says she hopes to use Red Rover beyond Chapel Ridge this fall and is already scouting for other locations – neighborhoods, shopping centers, anywhere there’s room to work out.

“It’s really just a word of mouth right now,” Sarah says. “I would love to help smaller local businesses and have my classes there to [help] drive their business; it’s really a matter of hearing back.”


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Chatham Magazine is a bi-monthly publication that seeks to capture the beauty, charm and unique character within Chatham County.


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