A couple in their 60s leaves the Greater Kingsport YMCA, lightly sweating, after spending an hour working out using FitLinxx to "coach" them. A young mother arrives, holding her infant and trailing her preschool daughter who leads the way to the Child Watch area. A couple of young men shoot hoops in the gym with a basketball court.
Serving over 4,000 people, the Kingsport YMCA is for everyone, according to Abigail Weaver, marketing and communications director. But don’t be mistaken into believing that it’s just a gym or that its impact is confined to its facility.
"We’re not just a gym," Weaver said. "We’re so much more than that. Within these walls, it’s about wellness, but we’re not about making people a size two. People know that they should be healthy, but they struggle with how to stay in some kind of routine. It’s our goal to provide an environment and tools for those we call ‘health seekers’ to really be able to pursue a healthy lifestyle."
A new tool that will be incorporated in November is MobileFit, replacing FitLinxx. MobileFit is web-based and allows members to track their workouts using their smart phones as one option (it gives printable workouts as well). And the system will include a nutrition component, complete with customized meal plans.
Even so, at the YMCA, a healthy lifestyle extends beyond working out and losing weight. The non-profit organization focuses its efforts on three areas: youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.
"Everything we do can be summed up under those three focuses," Weaver said. "And everything is interwoven."
For example, the afterschool program, which serves families through 11 different area schools, is Youth Development, but feeding students nutritious snacks crosses into the Healthy Living category. When those students do community service projects, they fulfill some Social Responsibility.
Some other ways the YMCA impacts the community is through summer day camps for elementary and middle school students, including special needs programming; supporting causes like the Walk to Defeat ALS; issuing healthy living challenges, like Dashing All the Weigh, which helps members stick to their wellness goals during the holidays; and even buying Christmas gifts for members who are on their Angel Tree.
In its effort to be accessible to everybody, the YMCA offers financial assistance based on a sliding scale for membership and all programs.
"That’s just one of the ways we give back to the community," Weaver said. "We have so many stories about people who have needed assistance - maybe it’s because of job loss or a single parent struggling. They need the Y, either for health, their sanity, safe childcare after school, or just a fun place for their family to go.
"I’m so passionate about the Y and love my Y family," Weaver added. "When we move to the new facility next year, it’s going to be amazing. But the true heart of what we do is serving and strengthening our community one person at a time."
The Kingsport YMCA is located at 1100 Franklin Square and anyone is welcome to visit. Visit the newly updated website at www.ymcakpt.org for hours, programs, testimonials and information, or call 423-247-9622. You can also "like" the Greater Kingsport Family YMCA Facebook page for updates.