Spending Money on Getting Fit: A Review of the YMCA
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This review was completed by Vicki, one of the co-founders of Women Who Money and Women's Money Talk. She is a member of her community YMCA and has been for the last twenty years.
YMCA's offer different programs based on their facilities, so this overview covers programs offered in her local Y. Check with the YMCA in your area to see all the great programs they provide.
You have lots of choices when it comes to working out and staying fit. Maybe you love putting on your sneakers and heading out for a run.
Is CrossFit your passion? Do you ride your bike or lift weights in your home gym? Are you a member of a big national chain gym or is the small gym started by a local entrepreneur your favorite place to sweat?
After trying many of those and after having children, I decided to join our local YMCA and haven't left! It may not be the least expensive choice, but the YMCA in our community offers a fantastic number of fitness options and so much more.
A Little Background on the YMCA
The Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) was started in London in 1844. The first YMCA in the United States opened in Boston seven years later.
There are YMCA's in 119 countries, and in the United States, there are currently over 2700 branches. The YMCA is one of the nation's largest non-profits, and its focus is on helping people feel healthier, confident, connected and secure.
Our local branch has over 6,000 members, employing almost 150 people. The first Y in our area opened in 1904, and it's been a central part of the community for over a century. The Y moved into an upgraded facility about 20 years ago allowing for tremendous growth in membership and programming.
Fitness Programs for Adults
My local YMCA offers so many different fitness programs and equipment options it's hard to believe you couldn't find something you enjoy!
It offers a full room of cardio equipment – ellipticals, bikes, treadmills, stair climbing machines, rowing machines, and more. There's also a circuit of weight machines for strength training and all kinds of free weights.
There are spin classes, yoga, tai chi, taekwondo, Zumba, and more. And they even give beginner and more advanced options for many programs.
Adult swim classes include aquatone, water running, aqua high-intensity interval training, and there are lanes available for adults to swim laps the majority of the day.
The Y has a special performance center offering cross training, kettlebell, “extreme” group training, and “boot camp” fitness options.
Personal trainers are available, and fitness coaches provide orientations to members who need support learning to use equipment in any area of the Y.
Some of the programs have costs above the standard monthly fees, and they usually run for 6-8 week sessions.
Senior citizens can participate in all of the programmings at the Y, but those on Medicare also have the option of free classes through the Silver Sneakers program.
My YMCA has a variety of membership categories. They also have a “passport” option including unlimited visits to some regional YMCA's. This Y is also part of the Nationwide YMCA program allowing a member to visit other participating YMCA's when the member is traveling.
The joining fee is often waived in early January when people are focusing on their health and making New Year's Resolutions.
We also have the option to put our membership on hold each year for three months if we travel, for a $25 fee. And they offer summer memberships for $99 for college students or people who visit the area for short periods of time.
The Y also has an app providing the daily schedule and the ability to obtain information on class cancellations and messages about upcoming events.
Programs for Parents and Children
Parents can use a free childcare option when they workout. For an additional fee, they can use the childcare before and after school at the Y and on school vacations.
The Y has a pre-school program also. Around the holidays, the Y offers programming for kids so parents can have an evening “off” to get shopping done too.
Kids can have their birthday parties at the Y as well. They can spend time in the “kid zone” and enjoy bounce houses and climbing walls.
One of the most important things the YMCA offers is swimming lessons for children and a shallow pool to help children get used to spending time in the water.
Teenagers have their own special “fun zone” at the YMCA, and they can also take classes including lifeguarding and babysitting. Teen programming is offered after school and on weekends, so teens always have a safe place to go.
Our YMCA also has wellness events throughout the year including 5K races and indoor triathlons. These events always have a component for kids to participate in too.
There are “lunch and learn” programs, flu shot clinics, and healthy kids' days throughout the year. The Y staff and Board of Directors work incredibly hard to create new and exciting programming for all members – no matter their age!
So Much More Than Just a Gym Membership
You can tell the Y has my support because of the terrific fitness and wellness programming. But there are more reasons.
As an avid swimmer, former lifeguard, and parent – I believe in their mission to teach all kids to be safe around the water. I'm also a big fan of them offering scholarships to children and families who can't afford to become members.
And it's not just children who can receive scholarships. The Y has a portion of their scholarship funds set aside to support adults too. The core values of respect, responsibility, honesty, and caring are at play in all they do at the YMCA.
If you think your local YMCA is just for kids, think again! I've been to a number of different Y's, and they are all unique.
Some have pools, others have tennis courts, and many have both. Smaller and older YMCA's may not have all of the programmings our Y has but some Y's have these types of programs and more.
Most Y's will allow you a day pass to give the facility a try. I strongly encourage you to do that!
I think the YMCA is an excellent use of the dollars I set aside to take care of my health and wellness and the value the YMCA provides to our community is priceless.
Is anyone else a YMCA member? What are some of the programs or fitness equipment options you enjoy at your Y?