It’s fun to stay at the YMCA, or so the song goes. If you’re looking for deals and special offers to save a few bucks on your YMCA gym membership, look no further. We’ll show you why the Y is a wholesome association with excellent services and list out a few ways you can sign up and save.
What Is The YMCA Gym?
If you haven’t heard the famous song about the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), it’s a worldwide organization that offers a gym to the public. Founded in London during 1844, the YMCA (sometimes called simply the Y) started as a safe place where men could go to a big city. Started by evangelical Christians, the YMCA was innovative at the time because it didn’t subscribe to the separation between social classes or churches. It was merely an open space for men to come together.
The Y wasn’t only a gym, however. The building commonly offered dormitories and restaurant facilities to their members. They met the social needs of the community, engaged in helping people, and organized conventions. Local YMCAs volunteered in a variety of ways:
- Emergency relief
- Distribution of clothing to destitute kids
- Distribution of coal to the poor
Early-on, the Y worked to unite the mind, body, and spirit of a man for complete health. Exercise and recreational activities were vital to the process, but the overall goal of the organization started out to develop the perfect Christian man. The association’s main goal was to enrich the following parts of a man’s character:
During the end of the Industrial Revolution, times were tough. The YMCA was created in response to the unhealthy social conditions young men faced daily. According to the Social Welfare History Project, the average man worked six days per week, with 10-12 hour workdays. Communities of men required a safe place to sleep, shower, and workout, so the Y began to meet these social needs.
By 1851, over 20 YMCAs functioned in Great Britain and the company moved into North America and Canada. The organization continued to rapidly grow throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Eventually, the Y became open to people of all ages, races, and religions. They started offering professional training, and Y-affiliated colleges hit the scene during the late 19th century.
Most YMCAs offered a gym for members by 1880. The first swimming pool wasn’t included in a YMCA until the year 1885 in Brooklyn, New York, however. Todays YMCAs are known to offer exercise equipment and indoor pools, including:
- Stair stepper
- Row machine
- Indoor running track
- Balance beans
- Foam mats
- Yoga balls
- Resistance bands
You will also find basketball courts, tennis courts, racquetball courts, wrestling mats, and more. Anything you need to exercise is easy to find at your local Y. However, keep in mind that each location is different. The YMCA near you may not have an indoor pool, for example. Look into the specific recreation activities offered at your closest location online, or head in and ask for a tour.
Why You Need A YMCA Gym?
Although the YMCA gym is much different today than the dormitories and restaurants included in past membership, the association is still working to strengthen communities. The nonprofit spans 10,000 neighborhoods in the United States alone. Today, the association still performs disaster response and worldwide services for members.
Today, they also offer a child safety hotline. The Y works to develop kids and teens, boost the nation’s health and overall well-being, and give back to their neighbors. Regardless of where you live, you can expect your local Y to offer:
- Swim lessons
- College prep
- Youth sports
- Childcare – Find both full and partial-day child care for your infant or preschooler, afterschool programs for kids from kindergarten to middle school, and free “drop-in childcare” for parents who want to hit the gym.
- Group interests – Everything from pottery classes and book clubs to Bible study and prayer groups. You can also expect tons of fitness classes, from spinning and Pilates to Zumba.
- Volunteering opportunities – Y volunteers give back and support their community, and functions range from coaching a sports team and fundraisers to becoming a YMCA board of director.
The gym the YMCA offers may not be right for everyone. If you don’t need any of the above services, for example, there’s no point in signing up. Families and people who want to take care of their overall health, mind, and body, can find the services they need at the Y for a low price.
YMCA Gym Deals And Offers
Specials deals and discounts vary based on the YMCA gym. Below, you’ll find a list of common deals.
Try Before You Buy
If you’re not sure the Y is right for you, give it a test run. You can try out the gym for three full days for free. All you must do is request a guest pass online.
Keep an eye out for deals during certain seasons at your local YMCA. During the summer, for example, many Y locations allow you to sign up with no enrollment fee. Many locations offer these deals to provide safe space kids can go while school is out, but you must sign up before July 31st.
Family Package Prices And Discounts
The Y doesn’t have set membership prices across the world. Instead, they use what’s called a sliding fee scale. The amount of your membership depends on your total household income and how many people are included in the household. Therefore, large families may receive a better deal on monthly dues if there’s only a single working parent, for example. Expect the Y to ask for documentation to verify the size and overall income of your household.
Once you’re a member, you can access the gym. You also save on other activities or programs you want to participate in, such as swim lessons or day camps for the kids. While not all childcare services are free, you can always drop young children off while you work out for free. Sports teams and fitness classes may come with a few added fees, but you have access to these for up to 40% off.
Military personnel and their families can sign up to become a member of the Y for discounted rates. Restrictions apply, and not all YMCA locations may participate. To find a participating YMCA near you and sign up, you must first call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or head to their website at militaryonesource.com to see if you’re eligible. Bring the eligibility form to your YMCA for verification along with your Military ID, deployment orders, and any other required documentation.
You’re eligible for this deal if you:
- Hold title 10 personnel
- Are on Active Duty
- Have family deployed in the Reservists or National Guard
- Are the relocated spouse of a deployed Active Duty personnel
- Are a wounded service member
Many gyms, including the YMCA, may partner with companies nearby. If you work for one of these local companies, you may be able to receive a discounted membership. Federal and local government employees often receive these discounts, but some employers may offer a gym benefit where they pay you a small amount toward your membership fees. Check with your employer or HR department to see what discount programs they may have in place for employees.
The YMCA knows that not everyone in the community can afford to pay a monthly fee, so they set aside funds from an annual campaign called We Build People. They’re one of the first associations to offer financial assistance for kids, teens, adults, and families who can’t pay the full price of membership, starting a trend among other gyms as well.
Although the membership fees are already based on a sliding scale, the YMCA considers each families’ circumstances when you sign up. You may qualify if you make low wages, have tons of medical bills, or are currently unemployed. They may help pay varying percentages. Expect to show you recent paystubs or proof of unemployment benefits, and you must requalify for assistance every two years.
Work At The Y
If you volunteer at your local Y, don’t expect a cheaper membership fee. Some locations offer free membership to part-time employees (at least 3-4 hours each week) and free family memberships to full-time employees. Each location may vary and offer different discounts. If a location is having a difficult time getting the early morning shift covered, they may offer free membership as compensation for your time.
However, volunteers may receive other perks such as free hats, t-shirts, food, and other special offers. You must be at least 15 years old, pass a background check, and fingerprinted to volunteer. Some branches may offer a Junior Leaders program for grade-school kids and a summer volunteer program for kids with ages between 12 and 15. You can sign up to volunteer for special events, and jobs range from concessions and crafts to parking and more.
A Final Tip
Lastly, don’t forget to negotiate with a new gym before agreeing to a set monthly price. You might be able to get a better rate, especially if you’re working with a fancy gym’s membership consultant who works on commission.