GRAVITY Classes – Part of The Y Community.
Today the YMCA is more commonly known as “The Y”, but back in 1844 when the Young Men’s Christian Association started in London—England, it began as a social outreach for unhealthy, overcrowded living/working conditions at the end of the Industrial Revolution.
Its founder, George Williams, a sales assistant in a draper’s shop in London assembled the first YMCA to substitute a Bible study and by 1851 there were 24 YMCAs across Great Britain and its reach had crossed the big pond. The YMCA community idea, was unique in its time, as it bridged the gap between the different churches and social classes in England and it was this originality that later opened the doors for all people of different religions and races as well as women and children.
Back then, YMCAs were mostly supported by volunteers and it wasn’t until the 1880s that the more recognizable YMCA of today started to take shape. At that time, gyms and swimming pools were added to the hostel-type accommodations along with bowling alleys and huge auditoriums. Income from the rented rooms funded much of the YMCA activities.
The YMCA organized summer camps, student activities, sports games, and fundraising campaigns and by the time the First World War had ended, its missionary and humanitarian outreach was huge and and by the end of World War II the YMCAs had changed their focus to youth programs.
Believe it or not, by 1975 healthier life-styles started to increase and so did the demand for the Y to update their buildings. Over the next decade health and fitness; camping and residences was a major source of income as youth focus took hold again and by the ‘90s character development was key.
Today the Y holds a deep respect for its traditions, a love of what it stands for as well as a desire to help the community. Millions of people have been introduced to sports through the Y and in turn over the years, the Y has introduced sports to millions—literally—professional football began at a YMCA, racquetball was invented by a Y member, volleyball and basketball were invented by Y instructors, softball is called softball because of the Y.
Nowadays, YMCAs run all types of programs from senior activities and skateboarding to Zumba and CPR classes. Some of the most successful are camping, swimming and child care. At the Mission Valley YMCA, San Diego, GRAVITY Classes are very popular.
“We teach GRAVITY classes almost every hour at the Y, I love teaching it, because it works. I can really get involved in the success of my Clients and the whole point of the YMCA is giving back to the community. With GRAVITY we are giving people their fitness back,” YMCA GRAVITY Trainer and Tennis Coach, Cara Beltran, explained.
GRAVITY offers a full body workout that targets all muscle groups using a percentage of one’s own bodyweight on the Total Gym GTS. With over 250 exercises to peak interest, GRAVITY class attendees are loving their sessions.
“I have been attending GRAVITY classes at the Mission Valley YMCA for about 2 years now. I joined because I wanted to increase my strength and overall fitness. I do one or two classes a week. I like the abdominal workouts the best – roll ups and crunches. It really helps to have the individual instruction and encouragement in a small group class. I have gotten stronger since I started GRAVITY and my balance has improved. I think I also have more energy. There are so many benefits—I know I will keep doing GRAVITY classes for years to come,” said Gay H., YMCA member.
Gay had seen the GRAVITY signs posted in the lobby of the Y and was curious but didn’t really know what it was all about until she received a free session one day for being a regular class attendee at the Y. And she went. Gay was so pleased with the results she encouraged her husband, Eric, to join her.
“I have been going to GRAVITY classes for about 4 months. My conditioning had been getting slowly worse: I had difficulty in tying my shoes. After a class I feel a little tired but way more flexible with less stiffness and much better posture. I am impressed with the workout because it includes stretching and exercising all muscle groups and is very safe and injury-free.”
Eric continued. “I am glad Gay pushed me to go. She’s a big Y goer. I didn’t want to do organized exercises, but the core work is really helping me with my daily activities. Within a month I felt stronger. I prefer GRAVITY to water aerobics – I go twice a week now with Gay and I’ve lost some weight too. You know I am not really a person to gush about these things and I am surprised I am saying all this but I really have a positive attitude about GRAVITY and the positive impact that it has on my life. I feel so much better.”
Today there are 2,700 YMCAs in 10,000 communities across the United States and they serve more than 45 million people in 119 countries. The YMCA’s strength is borne from their communities and they are a testimonial to their mission statement: “We know that lasting personal and social change comes about when we all work together. That’s why at the Y, strengthening community is our cause. Every day, we work side-by-side with our neighbors to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive”.
Joining the Y isn’t just good for you, it is a way to give back too. By connecting, you are helping the community thrive. There are other ways to give, not just monetarily, you can volunteer or get involved. Finding a balance in life is not always an easy task to manage so connecting with a YMCA will help you and your children find a safe and positive environment where children can learn good values, social skills and behaviors, as well as have fun and stay fit.