Resolutions: 4. Improve my physical health

Sponsored By: YMCA

YMCA of Columbia: More Than Just a Gym

Guided by four core values – caring, honesty, respect and responsibility – the YMCA concentrates its efforts on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, serving more than 45 million people in 119 countries around the globe. And though The Y provides an excellent venue to begin and sustain the exercise program that is probably near the top of your list of New Year’s resolutions, “it is more than just a gym,” according to Lisa McGee, marketing director for the YMCA of Columbia.

Each of the five YMCAs in the Midlands area is unique, offering a wide range of programs for people of all ages. For example, a waterpark is open in the summertime in Orangeburg, along with a therapeutic pool, a large fitness center and a gymnasium. The Ballentine Family YMCA in Irmo has a wellness center, group exercise classes and classrooms, while the Jeep Rogers Family YMCA at Lake Carolina and the NorthWest Family YMCA in Irmo provide an impressive lineup of activities and programs for the whole family. The Downtown YMCA provides members with state-of-the-art fitness equipment, a training studio, sports programs, lots of group exercise classes and more.

McGee points out that the youth programs offered by the YMCA provide parents with an inexpensive way to introduce their children to specific sports, including basketball, flag football, volleyball, soccer, martial arts, cheerleading, gymnastics and, of course, swimming.

“The YMCA has long been America’s favorite swimming instructor,” according to the Columbia-area YMCA website. “Swimming is a life skill as well as a great exercise and a challenging sport. Our Ys offer swim lessons for all ages, family swim, competitive swimming and adaptive swim programs for kids with special needs so we can all safely enjoy the pleasures of an aquatic environment.”

The YMCA is not just for kids, however. Recreational and league sports are offered for adults, and, in some cases, while they are competing or just working out, parents have the option of enrolling their kids in the Y’s child watch program.

Columbia-area YMCAs also offer active adult exercise programs aimed at promoting health and fitness for men and women in their 50s and older, as well as a 12-week program that meets twice a week for 60 minutes to help those with Parkinson’s disease survive and thrive.
Regardless of which programs are offered at which site, all five Columbia-area YMCA’s have one thing in common: They always have been and always will be integral parts of the areas they serve.

“The YMCA mission is service to the community,” says District Executive Director AJ Hernandez.
“We were founded on the principles of helping those in need in the community we live and serve. Here in the Midlands, you see the YMCA of Columbia do that in so many ways.

“We do multiple programs and events throughout the year that are free for anyone to attend. The focus being providing a great, fun, enriching experience for the entire family. We do Healthy Kids Day every year in the spring to promote healthy habits for families by offering games and activities that get everyone moving. We do a Fall Festival with dunk tanks, bounce houses, face painting, roasted marshmallows, all of your fall traditions wrapped in one event!

“I would need pages to describe all the Y does for OUR community but I want everyone to know that the Y is here for YOU!”

McGee adds that the YMCA also connects to the community by offering scholarships to many people who can’t afford to pay for memberships.

The YMCA is indeed “more than just a gym,” but it does provide an opportunity to keep those New Year’s resolutions.

“It’s never too early to start healthy habits,” McGee says. “Everybody is always putting it off until tomorrow, but why not start today?”

To learn more about the programs The Y offers, visit