By Sarrah Peters, News Editor
The YMCA of Coosa Valley is “rediscovering its niche,” according to program director Leroy Falcon.
“One of the beauties of the YMCA as an organization that was founded in 1844, started locally in 1961, is that its had this ability to recognize social trends and needs and it’s been able to adapt to meet those,” said Falcon.
Nowadays, people’s time is limited by work and family obligations. To help meet everyone’s schedule, the YMCA is open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
The YMCA hosts over 50 group fitness classes every week, including spin, yoga, zumba, barre fusion, water aerobics, strength training and more. The center also has modified classes specifically for seniors, like SilverSneakers and Joint Ventures. It even offers a lunch H2O class during the work week.
This year the Y is introducing some new programs, like Hip Hop Aerobics, Volleyball Nights and Pickleball. Pickleball is similar to a miniature tennis game, with wooden paddles, a whiffle ball and a badminton court.
The YMCA boasts the only indoor pool in town.
“That gives us an opportunity to serve folks in a way they can’t be served in other arenas,” said Falcon.
The Y provides swim space for local and high school swim teams, Special Olympians, senior classes and lap swimmers. The Y also operates the Sixth Street pool.
Right now the Y is gearing up for summer camps and swim lessons. Swim lessons begin to be offered in March. Learning how to swim can help prevent drowning accidents, which Falcon said Alabama unfortunately ranks high in.
The YMCA offers more than just fitness. The facility aims to provide community to its members. It holds events like Soup and Cornbread Day, a Tailgate Party, the Father-Daughter Sweetheart Dance and more.
When a Y employee noticed a child paying the dollar fee at the 6th Street Pool with pennies, he offered him a job helping clean the pool before opening up in exchange for free swimming. The child did that for five years, and now works as a YMCA lifeguard.
Falcon says that this is a perfect example of what the Y is all about: putting Christian principles into practice.
The YMCA acts as a meeting place for local clubs, including The Gadsden Runners Club and Toastmasters International. Recently a Parkinson’s support group was formed at the Y, and was such a success it quickly outgrew the space.
The YMCA offers scholarships based on financial need, which can take 40 percent off the monthly fee.
“We hope that when people think about their fitness needs, that they will consider the Y because of its place in the community,” said Falcon.
While the Y tries to help the community, its existence really depends on support from the community.
“While you may benefit, you also support other programs open to anyone who wants to participate,” said Falcon.
With a YMCA membership, you are a member of any Y in Alabama or Mississippi. Not ready for a membership? Try a guest pass, which allows you to visit the center a designated amount of times.
For more information on the YMCA’s membership, events or fitness classes, visit the YMCA of Coosa Valley on Facebook or its website at www.ymcacoosa.org.