Oxford YMCA Offers More than Exercise to LOU Community

By Carson McKinney
Hottytoddy intern
cqmckinn@go.olemiss.edu

Currently, the Oxford YMCA offers two hours of free childcare to all members while they work out and a ten-week Summer camp from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. where children learn swimming, reading, STEM skills, fitness, health, nutrition and art. Photo by Talbert Toole.

The Oxford YMCA’s membership has more than doubled since 2015, and the family fitness center has no plans on stopping there.

The Oxford YMCA may look different with its new floors, fresh paint, and new cardio equipment since the new year, but they still offer over 50 classes including boot camp, Zumba, Yoga, and spin while remaining more than just a gym to work out in. Board Chair Hope Sneed said each YMCA is tailored to its community.

“When you invest in the Y with your membership, you’re really investing back into the community because there are no two cookie-cutter YMCAs,” Sneed said. “I grew up in Memphis, and there are several YMCAs there, but none of them are the same. They all have the same central mission, but the focus is different depending on the neighborhood and what their needs are.”

Sneed said it took a few years after the Oxford YMCA’s opening in 2013 to figure out the unique needs and challenges of Oxford and Lafayette County, one of which being quality childcare.

Currently, the Oxford YMCA offers two hours of free childcare to all members while they work out and a ten-week Summer camp from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. where children learn swimming, reading, STEM skills, fitness, health, nutrition and art.

Branch director Leslie Kennedy said the value of YMCA membership goes above and beyond the call of an ordinary gym, especially since it includes all classes and childcare for parents while they work out.

The YMCA also works with the University of Mississippi’s Horizons program in the Summer and Fins Up for Fitness event which kicks off Great 38 Race Weekend in the Fall, where children and parents get to learn, play and create at tables in the Manning Center dedicated to nutrition, football tossing, poster-making, and more for free.

“These are the kind of things we’re offering the community because it’s needed,” Sneed said. “We need to teach kids that living healthy is important, but we also need to be able to do that for free so families can come in.”

Aside from childcare, the Oxford YMCA has classes intended for other groups like Seniors and hopes to add more classes to be more inclusive in the future, according to Sneed.

“We are a progressive community, and in order to stay progressive, we’re going to have to rise up, lock arms and meet the needs of the community,” Sneed said. “We’re not the same as we were twenty years ago. It looks different: the demographics are different, the needs are different.”

For instance, Oxford YMCA offers weekly classes hosted by certified Parkinson’s trainer Corey Martin for people with Parkinson’s disease or similar mobility issues. The classes also double as support groups with guest speakers like physical therapists, pharmacists and psychologists who can help patients learn more about Parkinson’s after they build strength in class.

“There are people in different stages of the disease,” Sneed said. “The ones that have just been diagnosed are getting this information so they’ll know what it looks like in the future and what they can do to prevent it. Research has shown that particular exercise programs like boxing, which we have the patients doing, helps with core, stability, and confidence. It starts taking away shaking symptoms and helps control them and manage them.”

Be on the lookout for new YMCA classes and events in the coming year.


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