The owners and trainers of the Pyramid Sports Performance Center in Lehighton held a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday as part of their grand opening weekend. This grand opening celebration, which includes public tours, free classes and membership discounts, will continue through Sunday.

The Pyramid is a community training facility designed for youth and adult athletes and fitness-minded people who are looking to maximize their athletic performance. Staff members and coaches are experienced in all athletic levels and needs, from youth sports programs to professional sports, personal training, and nutrition.

The ceremony opened with the national anthem, sung by Riley Durishin, a sophomore at Lehighton Area High School. Opening remarks were provided by Chris West, superintendent of the Pyramid and director of their baseball/softball academy, and Steve Strauss, director of sports performance.

"I'm very pleased to have you all here for our grand opening ceremony," said West. "We're pleased and proud to show you our facilities today."

The tour included the facilities' large cardio and weight conditioning room, which includes standard equipment such as treadmills, elliptical, free weights and weight machines. The room also includes specialized equipment such as a Helix lateral trainer, which strengthens the hips more effectively than the elliptical; Jacob's ladder, a climbing machine that offers an intense cardio workout; and conditioning ropes for building upper body strength.

Lower levels of the building include a turf room, typically used for local soccer and field hockey team practices. This room is also being used for speed and agility classes and for other workouts that require the use of a simulated grass surface. A second turf room houses two pitching mounds and four batting cages.

An additional four rooms are in the final stages of being remodeled. The lower floor is expected to feature a golf room, complete with sand traps and a simulation screen.

Each of these rooms, including the turf room, batting cages, and multipurpose rooms, can be reserved for use by Pyramid members.

Both West and Strauss have been searching for an ideal location to house a performance center and sports community for nearly 19 years, and were thrilled to finally find a home in their Ochre Street building in Lehighton, the former location of Scotty's Fashions. They expressed thanks to family members for their patience, and to owners Rick Caffrey and Joe Trimmel for helping to make this dream a reality.

"They gave us the means to create a sports hub and community for Carbon County, for young athletes and adults interested in fitness," said West. "This is a place that inspires people to better themselves and better their lives."

Attending the opening ceremony were municipal and state representatives, local school district officials, coaches, and athletic trainers, student athletes, and members of the local community.

"Anyone can be an athlete, whether they are 5 or 90," said Strauss. "We want to get people in shape and excelling at what they do, whether they are an athlete or just carrying their groceries into the house."

While the center celebrates its grand opening this weekend, staff members have been working with the public and local student athletes since early March.

"It's awesome to walk in there and see teams working out and improving," added West. "Our motto from day one has been 'progress.' We are seeing incredible progress (in our athletes) here."

Grand opening celebrations on Saturday and Sunday include public tours, a 20 percent discount on new memberships and membership renewals, and a one-day pass to try the gym facilities for all attendees. Free Pilates, zumba, and step classes will also be offered. A $1 donation is requested for classes this weekend; all proceeds will benefit the American Diabetes Association.

A free college recruitment seminar will also be held on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. This seminar is designed for parents, coaches, and student athletes who are interested in playing sports in college, and will provide information about NCAA and NAIA eligibility, academic requirements, and more.

The Pyramid Sports Performance Center is open weekdays from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The center is located at 230 Ochre Street in Lehighton.