Friday, June 13, 2014

There's Something for Everyone at the YMCA

One of the best parts of being a member at the YMCA is that every fitness level is welcome - and that's reflected in the wide variety of group exercise classes that are offered at the various centers. A few weeks ago, I sat down with Lonnie* and Travis from the Downtown YMCA to chat about current programming and the best classes for every fitness level. Here's what they had to say:

How are classes at the Y different from those that are offered at other gyms?
Lonnie: There's a commitment to education - the education of the instructors (all are certified to teach) and the education of people taking the classes. Everything is progressive so everyone can safely get to the next level of fitness.

Which Y classes are best for people who are new to exercise?
Lonnie: Any of the Les Mills classes, such as Body Pump. Y-Chisel, Y-Cardio Funk, Y-Cycle and Y-Kettle Bell Basics are also good options. For all of the classes, as you get fitter, you can challenge yourself more. For example, in Y-Kettle Bell Basics, you can use a heavier kettle bell or swing harder.

Which Y classes are best for people who are already fit and looking for a challenge?
Travis: Y-Blitz is great as well as the TRX classes. The TRX classes teach people to use their body differently and mimic real-life movement. 

What would you tell someone who is intimidated by group exercise classes?
Lonnie: There are options for all levels of fitness. Everyone is there for their own workout.

Travis: There are people there to help you keep pushing. The classes may be challenging but if you have the right mindset, you will be successful.

Can you tell me about Y-Beach Camp?
Travis: Y-Beach Camp is offered on Saturday and Sunday mornings in four-week sessions, June through September. The group is divided into three groups based on fitness level. Every weekend has a different theme. 

Lonnie: All of the groups run hills, climb stairs and do work in the sand. Some people use Y-Beach Camp as training for some of the adventure races in the area - but we've had people tell us every Y-Beach Camp is like its own adventure race. 

Thanks for chatting with me, Lonnie and Travis! There's still time to sign up for Y-Beach Camp this summer. Both Y members and non-members can learn more at the Downtown YMCA website.

Join the conversation: What do you like/dislike about group exercise classes?

- ST

*Lonnie Watts is the Director of Group Exercise for the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee


  1. You've done a great job of recapping your experiences at the Y, and giving a lot of knowledge as to the benefits of group exercise. Well done!

    1. Thanks Jen! Let me know if you ever want to try a class with me - I have a few extra guest passes :)

  2. I MISS GROUP FITNESS! My current gym is extremely limited on classes (they are all at times that I can't get to them anyway). My old gym had so many, but it was super expensive and once I had my daughter I really had to cut out that extra cost. There is a Y near me...I don't know why I never considered that as a possibility! I'm going to check it out!

    Very cool interview!

    1. Definitely check out your local Y - in my experience, the classes are a perfect complement to running. Also, a good place to join if you have a family :)

  3. Y-Beach camp!? That sounds like so much fun! I applied to the Y in part because your reviews of the stuff they do are so great! :). I had an interview this week actually!

    1. That is so cool, Hailey! The Y that I go to has a running program - I think it's couch to 5k - so maybe you can lead something like that. Seems like it would be a perfect match with your running and coaching background!