(Red Oak) — With 2023 almost a month away, more KMAland residents are flocking to local fitness centers in an effort to improve their health. Over the next few weeks, KMA News is taking a tour of local recreation facilities to check out the great indoor activities. Our exploration of the local fitness scene begins with a stop at the Montgomery County Family YMCA…
As cold as it is outside during these winter months, the action is hot inside at the Montgomery County Family YMCA. A visit to the Y on a recent Friday morning found patrons engaged in an ultra-competitive game of pickleball — just one of the many activities offered at Red Oak’s Y, now in its 23rd year of operation. Like other facilities in the area, Y residents return to the gym or weight room to up their fitness game and improve their health. Carrie Shalters succeeded John Blomstedt as the Y’s executive director 10 months ago. Shalters tells KMA News the facility has seen a steady recovery from member losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Of course, you know with COVID we’ve had some pretty big losses with membership,” Shalters said. “I’d say at least 25 to 30 percent of our membership we’ve lost because of the shutdown and just that long transition of how to deal with COVID and safety and health. But, I think we’re back to 10 to 15 percent less than where we were before COVID.”
Shalters says this month represents the familiar trend of people making a new commitment to getting fit.
“For the last year or two before this year,” she said, “it was kind of unpredictable who or when people would come back. But I would say this January we’re back to where we’re trending with a big influx of people in January. The weight room is full. Our challenge is to keep those people here, to keep them engaged.”
And visitors have an assortment of activities to choose from, including yoga and water aerobics classes, tennis and pickleball, and a variety of youth sports offerings—including, most recently, ballroom dancing. Shalters says the Y’s programs change based on the demands of the community.
“We want to strive to have what the community needs from us,” Shalters said. “That’s what I always tell employees and that’s what we’re talking about with your board. We want to know what the community wants from us, what kind of programming we want.”
This programming takes place in the Y’s gym, indoor pool, weight room, upstairs track and tennis courts, among other amenities. Shalters points to a recent day that symbolizes the facility’s goal of an engaged community.
“The pool was full,” she said. “We had kids, like I said, ballroom dancing. We had kids in the gym. We had classes held upstairs in the gym. We had tennis and pickleball. I mean the whole building was really full.. I said, ‘this is where we want to be. We want this building to be full and people to have a good time here.”
Shalters compliments the staff at the Y and the groundwork laid by his predecessors Blomstedt and before him Nick Zimmer for helping keep the facilities in shape so they can help the public stay in shape. She adds that the Y is a charitable organization with programs to help disadvantaged youth and people with membership costs. For more information on membership, hours and programs. contact the Montgomery County Family YMCA at 712-623-2161 or the Y’s website.