FITNESS FOR EVERYONE Consider YMCAs For Family Wellness | Lifestyles

Were you slow to get started on the new year’s resolutions and are now thinking about starting a workout routine or working at being more active? Consider exploring the YMCA locations in Northwest Indiana.

YMCAs are meant to be affordable and welcoming and a place where all ages can explore physical fitness and develop an overall healthy lifestyle. When you join your local YMCA, you also become a national YMCA member. That means you are able to visit any location in the country without an extra fee and take advantage of the facilities.

“We’re an independent YMCA, but with the nationwide membership you can go to any location as long as you spend at least 50% of the time at your home location,” said Megan Mussche, marketing director for the Duneland Family YMCA.

You also can check with your local YMCA to see what financial assistance is available.

“We have an income-based assistance program. Want to make sure we don’t turn anyone away based on ability to pay. On our website you can put in your family structure and income and it will do a calculation on what you pay. We want it to be accessible to everyone,” said Jill Schaffenberger, marketing director for Crossroads YMCA.

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The Duneland Family YMCA has a similar program.

“We also offer financial assistance. We don’t turn anyone away. If you’re interested, but aren’t able to have the financial means to pay for it, we make sure everyone has opportunity to use the ‘Y’ with our financial programs,” Mussche said.

She said those who have never visited the Duneland Family YMCA have an opportunity to give it a try at no charge.

“If never visited, your first visit is free. So you can use the equipment or try a group exercise class and your first visit is on us,” Mussche said. This may not be true of all locations, so be sure to call first to verify it is offered.

YMCAs offer a number of group exercise classes, youth sports and other activities. At some locations, group classes are included. For the youth sports or other paid activities, members can receive discounts on such programs. One other perk of membership that Mussche said is offered at the Duneland Family YMCA is that there is a Family Fun Zone area where kids can be cared for while parents spend time at the YMCA. It’s included at no extra charge for two hours per day with your membership and is open for ages 6 weeks through 9 years of age. She said there’s also no contract for membership, so you aren’t locked in for an extended period of time.

The YMCAs in Northwest Indiana also have seen significant improvement and expansion with more to come. A new YMCA facility is expected to be built in Hammond, likely opening in 2024.

“We’re finishing up plans to launch a destination YMCA just north of the Hammond Sportsplex,” Schaffenberger said. “We’re hoping to have plans finalized this spring.”

A groundbreaking could happen as early as summer, and it likely would take about two years for construction to be completed.

“We’re also having our first summer with a destination day camp just south of Crown Point. It’s called Camp Triangle Hills,” Schaffenberger said.

The Crossroads YMCA also has expanded recently. Joining locations in Hammond, Whiting and Griffith and the Dean and Barbara White Southlake YMCA that opened in Crown Point in 2019 are the Schererville YMCA (formerly Franciscan Health Fitness Centers Schererville and earlier Omni 41 Health & Fitness) and the Hobart Family YMCA (which has been operating as an independent YMCA location).

Of the recent joining of the Hobart into the collection of YMCA locations, Schaffenberger said, “We’ve been longtime collaborators and partners, and it made sense to have all of them be part of the same location and serve all of Lake County between our branches.”

Among the Lake County locations are a myriad of amenities and classes available, including indoor tracks, basketball courts, pickleball courts, heated indoor pools, an outdoor water park and more. The Dean and Barbara White Southlake YMCA also soon will have an expanded gymnastics center that is projected to open later this year.

“The gymnastics program was so popular we needed more space and they’ll be doing an addition at that property,” Schaffenberger said.

The YMCAs are a place where you can truly find something for everyone, Mussche suggested.

“We have two fitness rooms, a cardio room, racquetball court. For senior members, we have a senior center with bingo and Silver Sneakers. We have group exercise classes — yoga, Zumba and spin, to name a few. We have youth sports.”

Schaffenberger also touts the wide variety of offerings and the fact that there’s something catering to every age.

“The ‘Y’ is great for families with activities for everyone in the family from parents down to young children. And at the time adults might want to do an exercise class, a child can be there at the same time and be in a swim session, gymnastics or ninja class. They can spend time together or doing different things at the ‘Y.’”

And about that ninja class — Schaffenberger said it’s been very popular.

“Kids can act out their favorite activities like they see in video games with jumping between different obstacles,” she said. “It’s kind of a combination of gymnastics and martial arts. We start with ‘Baby Ninja’ with parents and it goes up to age 14 with different levels.”

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By Betty C. Giordano

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