About six months and ten+ pounds ago, I told my husband we needed to go ahead and join a gym. My at-home workout videos just weren’t cutting it anymore, mostly due to lack of good workout space. And, let’s be real, a lack of burning motivation because no one (but you) knows if you don’t show up to your living room for Jillian Michael’s No More Trouble Zones (phenomenal workout, by the way!). Not to mention, every time I press “play” on a workout, like a Pavlovian dog response, my children come out of the woodwork famished and starving and soooo bored. I can’t make it through any video without several interruptions. Which, of course, is rather disruptive to any type of progress I want to see physically.
After tuck-in one evening, we sat down and considered our options. There are several gyms within the general vicinity of our house (all the big ones like Planet Fitness, 24-Hour Fitness, a community rec center, YouFit, and a YMCA). Each had appealing points to consider; namely, gyms like YouFit and Planet Fitness only cost $10/month for membership. We were leaning the way of Planet Fitness because, you know, $10…until we started talking through the logistics. Long story short, we knew that even $10/month would be wasted on a gym membership because one of us would always have to be with the kids. The more we talked it through, the more we realized that us committing to fitness would also mean committing to a collective two hours LESS per day of our coveted and closely guarded family time. Enter YMCA into the conversation…We, as a whole family unit, can be at the YMCA all together and knock out our workouts all in an hour. You guys. It’s so great. Let me run through some highlights.
- Free Childcare: Really, need I say more? The cost of childcare is included in your cost of membership. At our location, the kids are separated into three age groups: babies (under 2); little kids (2-5); big kids (6-12). There are age appropriate toys, activities and, for the older ones, a big indoor playground like you’d find at Chick-fil-A. The YMCA childwatch staff is responsible, honest, competent, attentive, and warm. They knew my kids by our second visit (is that a bad thing?) and take such good care of them while my husband and I exercise.
- Affordable: The YMCA does cost more than $10 a month, no doubt about that (after a quick web search, it appears that the average family pays about $75/month in our area). Membership rates vary by location, but I can tell you this with certainty: The YMCA wants to make sure that ANYONE who wants to be a member CAN be. If money is what’s stopping you, they will do their best to work with you until a membership is in your price range. There is financial assistance available, as well as a sliding scale for anyone who qualifies. The point is: they want you there getting healthier more than they want your money.
- Awesome Classes: Free weights and an exercise bike are really all my husband needs, but I only use the gym/weights once or twice a week. Otherwise, you’ll find me loving my life in group fitness classes like Kickboxing, Body Combat, Body Pump, YBarre, or Cardio Muscle. That is not an exhaustive list of what they offer – those are just my faves. The classes are super fun and the instructors are just the right amount of “You’re rocking it!” plus a little “Challenge yourself – I know you can get those knees higher!” I did try step aerobics once. Just that once. I found out right away that my Church of Christ background has delayed me enough in the rhythm and dance department that I just shouldn’t even try that class. How do all those women already know what to do and, furthermore, completely synchronized? No kidding, there was a 70 year old woman next to me just be-bopping like Britney all over that room. She came over mid class to help me lower my step, “Until you figure out the moves.” I was like this lost woman in the white Tee. Bless her heart. Been there, Honey.
- Robust Variety of Gym Equipment: Free weights? Check. Universal weights? Check. Bands and exercise balls and mats? Check, check, check. Rows of treadmills, stair steppers, ellipticals, stationary bikes? Yes, all of these. And some equipment I have no idea how to use so I just stay away from it, lest I be cast as a fool. Oh, there’s also plenty of magic soap for any fellow germaphobes. You know what else the YMCA gym has? Personal trainers who roam around just in case you need help or advice or an “atta girl.” They do that to be nice, but they also need to make a living, of course. That said, pay a little extra and you can be all fancy, meeting your very own personal trainer at the gym. Doesn’t that sound so extravagant?
- Member Price on Youth Sports: If you’re reading Dallas Moms Blog, you likely have kids. If you have kids, chances are you may enroll them in a sport or two at some point to see if they have a knack for athletics. If you sign them up for a sport, odds are that the program is run by the YMCA. Get this: if you are a member at the Y, you pay much less for your kid to participate. My oldest daughter just finished up Spring Soccer. We paid $70 for her to play; non-members paid $114. A difference of $44 is a pretty big chunk, percentage wise. Especially if your child becomes a regular in the sports scene, those savings can really add up!
- Pool: Just in time for summer, guys. This will be our first summer at the YMCA (we joined in January of this year), so I can only speak to the excitement and anticipation that is building inside of my 3 and 6 year olds (me too, for that matter) about what a glorious fun-in-the-sun type of summer we are looking forward to. No more sneaking into the pool at the townhouse where I used to live before we married. No more (or at least less) lawn-destroying slip-n-slide in the front yard. We now have a crisp, refreshing, perfect pool (I think there are actually 3 pools) inviting us to dip our little toes into. Our YMCA just added a brand new splash pad, too. Yes, we will be making daily appearances. This is the way summer should be.
- Extra Perks: One extra perk that I took advantage of during the month of April: depending on your level, your membership is good at other Texas YMCA branches! We live in Dallas, but we were house-sitting for my Aunt who lives in Flower Mound. We didn’t have to interrupt our daily workout routine at all since the membership transferred. There are a couple exceptions to this rule (downtown Dallas Y and downtown Ft. Worth Y), so a quick call wouldn’t hurt before you show up to an unfamiliar location. Browse the YMCA website for all the other little perks the YMCA offers or, better yet, call the friendly folks at your local branch. They would love to invite you in and, in fact, you can get a one week guest pass for free so you can see if I’m lying about all this or not.
Granted, every YMCA across this country will be different from the next. Different leadership, different facility, different classes and instructors, different calibers of childwatch programs. Maybe we just got SUPER lucky with our neighborhood YMCA, but we have been nothing but impressed with all of the above. The YMCA is more than a gym – it’s a non-profit bettering the community and a family-friendly destination that you can go to EVERY DAY. If you think me saying “every day” is an exaggeration, I’m totally not. We go e.v.e.r.y…d.a.y.
Anyone else out there a big YMCA fan? Let me know which branch is your home branch and what you love about it. And, if you have a membership elsewhere, what other gym has worked well for your family?
*All photos c/o the YMCA