It’s Fun to Play at the YMCA

The YMCA of Middle Tennessee system is one of the best in the country. The Margaret Maddox YMCA in east Nashville is my “home” Y. I’ve been a member there on and off for almost ten years now and witnessed many changes at “my” Y, including a couple of expansions to meet the growing needs of our community. Since I joined, they’ve added space for more cardio equipment, a teen center and, best of all (for me) a dedicated yoga studio.

I love spending time at the Y and feel energized as soon as I walk through the front door – the entire center is buzzing with activity and filled with smiling faces. Parents bring their little ones for martial arts and ballet classes. Adult classes range from yoga and Zumba to ballet sculpt and tai chi. There’s something for everyone – from Silver Sneakers classes to advanced spin classes. On Saturday mornings, there’s even a farmers’ market.

One obstacle to joining a gym is fear of not fitting in – not knowing what to do, what to wear, etc. You definitely don’t need to worry about that kind of stuff at the Margaret Maddox Y. Everyone just does their own thing and can absolutely get away with whatever they feel comfortable wearing (provided they’re fully clothed). East Nashville is the hipster capital of Nashville, so I’ve seen all kinds of crazy workout ensembles. One time, I got the feeling that the dude on the yoga mat next to mine had on the same clothes he wore out clubbing the night before. But no one cares.

Since my Y expanded, it offers many more group fitness classes. I take Kristen’s 10 am Saturday morning yoga class whenever I can. I love how she focuses on proper form, which helps keep me from rushing through the poses. And I discovered recently that she’s a fellow upstate New Yorker, which made me like her even more.

I also enjoy dabbling in other classes.

A few months ago, I took a ballet sculpt class, which is similar to the “Barre” classes that have gotten so popular. The class kicked my butt, yet it was fun enough that I’d like to try it again, whenever I can get a Friday off. The instructor’s crazy energy and amazing arms and shoulders (which made Madonna look like Olive Oyl) were enough to inspire anyone. I know they inspired me to keep my arms at shoulder height or above through the whole class – super impressive considering that my arms felt like they were on fire 30 minutes into the 90 minute class!

Today, I took the 9 am Saturday morning Dance Blast class. One of the young woman in my yoga class talked me into it. She said it was really fun and “you don’t need to be a dancer” and “no one judges” so I decided to give it a whirl. I slept WAY in this morning, so it was tempting to skip it, but I went anyway and was glad I did.

This class is enormously popular. So popular that it’s held on the basketball court and the court was full – full of women of all ages and shapes. I staked out a spot close to the back, but not so far back I wouldn’t be able to follow the instructor.

The music started and off we went.

I am not, nor ever have been, a dancer. But things like coordination, balance, and trying new things become even more important as we age and I can use all the help I can get. So I gamely gave it my best shot.

There were some moves I picked up fairly quickly. Others, primarily involving booty shaking, were next to impossible for me. But, as promised, no one gave me the stink eye when I had difficulty shaking my booty. There was a fun “we’re all in this together” vibe. Although the class was challenging, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and totally got what makes this class so popular.

Who knows which class I’ll try next?

If you’re looking for a way to get more fit and have fun while doing it, look to your local YMCA. And if finances are a problem for you, the Nashville Ys offers need-based financial assistance. Kristen told us recently that approximately half of the members at the Margaret Maddox Y receive financial assistance. That’s a lot of people (and families) who are helped through the YMCA programs and facilities.

So, if you’ve thought about joining your local Y, but aren’t sure whether it’s right for you, think again. They make it easy to get excited about exercise and you’ll fit right in – trust me.

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