Friday, January 25, 2013

Is the YMCA just "The Y" now?

I grew up in a city that had only one health club:  the YMCA.  If you wanted to be a competitive swimmer or one of the cool kids or prove that your parents were richer than my parents, you belonged to the Y.  Then when I grew up I moved to Brooklyn, where there was a YMHA.  The "H" was for Hebrew.  They didn't exclude non-Jews but it was clear they wanted to do for Jews what the YM"C"A did for Christians -- provide healthy activities.  Good for them.  I joined a for-profit health club so I didn't have to explain myself at the H.  It never made any sense to me why there had to be a religious affiliation to swim laps or do jazzercize.  Over the years I've joined other clubs, but never had any religious entanglements.  Even Krav Maga, which is based on Israeli military self-defense training, had no religious significance except that some of our classes were at the local Jewish Community Center.

Meanwhile, from the web, or maybe TV, dunno... I got the idea that the YMCA was trying to dissassociate from the "C" and just call itself the "Y."

I looked up the local "Y" on the web because I want to swim laps.  I see the logo on the front page.  So far so good.  Mostly Y.  No emphasis on the "C."  They even state their purposes in secular terms:  For youth development, For healthy living, For social responsibility.

Well this sounds nice doesn't it?  I decided to check out the adult programs.  As I read down the list, it looked like the usual health club offerings but then...

  • Wellness
  • Basketball
  • Volleyball
  • Swim Lessons
  • Private Swim Lessons
  • CPR Training
  • Bootcamp
  • Group Exercise
  • Tennis
  • Bible Study
  • Strength Training
  • Personal Training
  • Climbing Wall

 What what WHAT?  Bible Study???  There's no book club (for other books) or GED class or any other kind of "study."  But they seem a little embarrassed about it, and they just bury the Bible Study in between Tennis & Strength Training.  

I couldn't resist.  I had to look it up, and it cracked me up.  Here's the description of the downtown "Prayer and Share" class:  Our non-denominational adult fellowship group meets Wednesday mornings at 9-10 in the Downtown Y conference room. Led by Karen Wenger, the group shares payers, praises and concerns, a devotion and meaningful fellowship. No books or fees required.
No books at all?  Not even a Bible?  That's rich.  Here's the other "Bible" Study: This session's theme is "The Patriarch" by Beth Moore All are welcome! We are not affiilated with a specific church or denomination. We enjoy a variety of participants from all around the Muncie Community. Come join us!

Okay, so they have a couple of watered-down Christian feel-good "classes" for personal well-being.  Or maybe all those jocks who play basketball and lift weights won't go to a Bible study that actually requires studying the Bible. So maybe this Y isn't necessarily a Christian thing with a big "C" is it?  Anyone can rent space or set up a class in a library, too.  The "Bible Study" might not mean anything...

So I move on to the page with the membership fees.  And then it's very clear that this is indeed a Christian organization.  The "Y" may be their biggest letter but it's right here in black and white:


This means you, GAYS!  Register separately and pay twice you sinners!

Seriously?  They felt they had to say that?  Did they think that single people would fake being gay to get a discount?  Or are they just trying to scare the gays away?  I've seen some pretty buff gay people.  If you are the type of person that believes you can study the Bible without actually reading it, I can only imagine what your work-out routine is like!  The gays would put you to shame!!!

So in the end, I've decided to just do some walking around the neighborhood for and then in the summer possibly join one of the local private pools (assuming they let gays and black people and other types of mutants join).

If they're going to make a statement on their membership page, then I'll make a statement by not joining.

...and by blogging about their bigotry.



Nick Dertavitian said...

I was turned off by them when I first noticed the gigantic (not exaggerating. I see that shit from the freeway) cross erected at the edge of the parking lot. My wife still goes and she was recently telling me how they blast christian rock music in the workout room. Is that supposed to be inspirational to jog a few miles for Jesus?

Rosnovsky said...

Looks like it may well be a location-specific thing. Here in Clark county, they define families as up to 5 people (adults and/or children), who live in the same household: Not defending them, though, just thought I'd let you know it may be something specific to the location you visited. Personally, I have my doubts about YMCA, and prefer 24 Hour Fitness near my house :)

Anonymous said...

I liked this post. And, not to be nosey, but clearly neither M nor C work for you. How about the one remaining letter, "Y"? Anyway, I think the Y is mostly a cultural entity, and it is up to us in the community to nicely claim it. (Make C "community" regardless of their mission statement!) The good folks there will certainly be amenable in most cases, don't you think?