Sunday, February 1, 2009

Y I Love the Y

Y the Y? I'll tell you Y- it's AWESOME

Picture this- a room full of kids from ages 5 to 9ish, pounding on big exercise balls with drumsticks to a fun beat. The class, Drums Alive, meets every Tuesday evening from 4:30 to 5:15 and offers a fantastic opportunity for medium to high intensity exercise for that is geared specifically for the younger set.

I participated in one of these classes with my son, and it was FUN. We drummed, danced to music and shuffled from ball to ball while developing fine/gross motor skills, coordination, rhythm, and group activity participation. In 45 minutes, I got my heart rate up and played with my kid in a highly enjoyable and healthy activity. It was bonding, cool, and it made me feel like a good mommy.

The Y is expanding, and it will be offering more such programs in time. With the long winters and short days in Upstate, the temptation to chill in front of the TV with cookies rather than get out and move is a bit too enticing. With programs such as Drums Alive, however, taking the kid directly from after school and going directly to the gym is easy, and totally worth the effort.

I love the Ithaca YMCA; it's affordable, family-oriented, and offers a variety of programs for both adults and children. So what if you can't work out with a view of the Cayuga Inlet; but you can participate in great adult fitness such as Yoga for all levels, cardio fitness, weights, spin, pilates, body toning, racquetball, squash, free weights, machines, and a variety of youth classes such as the above mentioned Drums Alive, Youth Soccer, basketball, T-ball, and indoor swimming lessons for birth on up.

Another cool thing about the Y is that because it is a Tompkins County program, income-eligible folks may qualify for scholarships that can take up to 75% or more off the already low cost of membership. While great for budget-challenged families, but I also see my son's pediatricians there all the time as well as my own doctors, so even though the facilities are relatively basic in comparison to some of the fancier gyms in town, the programs are excellent.

I would like to call the Ithaca YMCA a best kept secret or some such other silly thing, but it is not a secret. It is a nice little niche that serves the ever- growing need for fun, affordable, and well-organized family-oriented fitness in Tompkins county. Besides exercise programs for kids, the Y offers information on health eating, flyers and pamphlets on nutrition, packing heatlhy lunches, and fruit/juice/and milk snacks on open house family days.

A word about the use of the term "family" in this article - SO not value-laden. In YMCA, the "c" word is not emphasized as all religious affliations are membership eligible. Common decency and respect are naturally expected (no swearing, no fighting, good sportsmanship), but discrimination is not a part of the program.

As I am absolutely against any facility that would try to push a religious agenda on me or my son, I would not participate in the Y programs if such a thing occurred. What the Y does offer is the opportunity for families of all income levels to come and enjoy a remarkably diverse experience while getting a great workout and excellent child care.

Need some time to take Yoga, Spin, or do some free weights? Plop your kid in one of the 3 child care options that come FREE with a family membership- rock-a-bye for the babies, toddler care, and stay and play (my personal favorite) that offers a HUGE indoor play structure similar to one you might find at a McDonalds playland without all the tempting trans-fat. Kids aged 3 on up enjoy up to 2 hours of crazy fun in the structure, creative play with a variety of little plastic figures, crafts, puzzles, and even a place for healthy snack time (you provide). One of my favorite ways to end my busy week is to put John Ross in Stay and Play on Sundays at 4:30, head up to yoga, do a bit of lift and tone, and end my workout with a short sauna while my kid wears himself out before we head home to get ready for the busy week ahead.

Need credits toward teaching certification? The Y also has lots of volunteer opportunities where aspiring Phys Ed teachers may be able to earn those precious teaching hours toward certification. I'm going to check out being a Drums Alive teacher-it's wicked fun and certainly something I would incorporate into a school PE program.

I could write more, but I encourage you to check the website-

Y the Y? It's fine fun!

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