YMCA Program Makes Fitness Accessible For All
Getting healthy in the New Year is a common resolution. But for many families, finding a way to afford health and wellness activities on a limited budget poses a real obstacle.
Fortunately, the YMCA of Austin offers financial assistance for memberships and program fees based on household incomes. As Austin’s leading nonprofit focusing on health and wellness, the Y provided more than $2.3 million in assistance in 2016 to more than 38,000 deserving neighbors.
“The Y is for everyone,” says James Finck, YMCA of Austin president and CEO. “We’re here for all ages, genders, religions, races, ethnicities, orientations, abilities and socioeconomic backgrounds. We don’t turn anyone away who can’t afford to pay the membership or program fees.”
MEMBERSHIP FOR ALL
More than 5,000 Austin-area families received financial assistance for YMCA membership in 2016 through the Y’s Membership for All program.
With eight facilities in Travis, Hays and Bastrop counties, the YMCA of Austin offers a range of activities to meet the needs of all ages, from infants to seniors. Popular programs include group exercise classes, personal training, senior fitness, aquatic exercise as well as youth programs like dance, gymnastics, sports, swim lessons and arts classes. The Y also offers Special Needs Adaptive Programs (SNAP) for persons with disabilities.
“The Y is an important part of our young family’s life,” says Angela G., a Membership for All recipient at the Northwest Family Y. “We use the Child Watch, the gym, the pool, swim lessons, gymnastics and ballet as often as possible. I come to Zumba weekly as well. Our family’s budget is pretty tight. Our mortgage and student loans significantly drain our finances. We do not have a car payment or cable. We live fairly frugally and are so grateful to be able to benefit from the extra assistance given to us.”
Finck says the Y has streamlined its application process in recent years to make it quicker and simpler to apply for assistance so that new members can get started practicing healthy habits. In addition, the YMCA is waiving its normal $48 joining fee through January 31.
“We’re so much more than just a place to work out,” Finck says. “What you see in our facilities is the tip of the iceberg.” Finck says. “We’re here to strengthen the foundations of our community.”
He cites the example of the Y’s MEND program, which stands for “Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do It!” and is a free grant-funded childhood obesity intervention program supported by the St. David’s Foundation “We were the first Y in the country to offer MEND, and now the YMCA of the USA is rolling it out nationwide as its signature childhood obesity initiative. One day, we’ll be able to say it started in Austin.”
Other innovative programs include LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, which is a free YMCA-run and Y-funded program for cancer survivors. The TownLake Y Senior Retreat program serves older adults with early- to mid-stage Alzheimer’s and dementia. The YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program helps adults diagnosed as pre-diabetic make lasting lifestyle changes.
YMCA of Austin locations include:
Bastrop YMCA, 1112 Main St., Bastrop, (512) 321-YMCA (9622)
East Communities YMCA, 5315 Ed Bluestein, 922-YMCA
Hays Communities YMCA, 465 Buda Sportsplex Dr., Buda, 523-0099
Northwest Family YMCA, 5807 McNeil Dr., 335-YMCA
North Austin YMCA, 1000 W. Rundberg Ln., 973-YMCA
Southwest Family YMCA, 6219 Oakclaire Dr. (& Hwy. 290), 891-YMCA
Springs Family YMCA, 27216 Ranch Rd. 12 South in Dripping Springs, 894-3309
TownLake YMCA, 1100 W. Cesar Chavez, 542-YMCA
For more information about YMCA membership rates and Membership for All, call (512) 730-YMCA (9622) or visit www.AustinYMCA.org.
Founded in 1953, the YMCA of Austin is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a healthy spirit, mind and body for all. The YMCA of Austin currently serves more than 65,000 active members and provides program services to an additional 60,000 people citywide. The YMCA puts Christian principles into practice through programs that promote good health, strong families, character values, youth leadership, community development and international understanding.