MARIETTA - A fixture the local community since the 1950s, the Marietta Family YMCA kicked off its 60th year with an open house event Sunday that highlighted some of the Y's programs and services.
"We had a steady crowd all day, including 15 people who signed up for new memberships," said YMCA Executive Director Suzy Zumwalde.
One of those new members is Major Karen Garrett from the Salvation Army on Front Street.
Dodgeball players, from left, Garret Cox, 9, Cayley Cox, 9, Peyton Cox, 7, and Sam Zumwalde, 10, get ready to rumble during Sunday’s open house event at the Marietta Family YMCA. (Photo by Sam Shawver)
"I just joined (Sunday)," she said. "I've been saying I would join the Y for a while now, but I've been so busy I just kept putting it off. When I heard about this open house I finally decided to come down and join."
Garrett hopes to get in some exercise and swimming before or after work every day. She admits sometimes becoming too absorbed with her work.
"I've been to YMCAs in different cities, but some didn't have pools, and I really like to swim," she said. "I think this Y membership will inspire me to get away from work once in a while."
Zumwalde said the local Y has a total of about 2,000 members, and 57 new membership applications have already been received since Jan. 1.
She said new members typically pay a $40-$60 fee to join, depending on the type of membership. But that fee was waived for anyone who joined during Sunday's open house event, and through Jan. 13 the joiner fee is only $5.
"Hopefully this will also make it easier for people who want to make lifestyle changes for their New Year's resolutions," Zumwalde said.
This year the YMCA is adding some new programs while expanding on others.
Youth sports coordinator Matt Barton said a Saturday youth dodgeball league is among the newer offerings. Registration and fees for the month-long program, which includes students from kindergarten through sixth grade, are due by Jan. 20.
"We're taking the official dodgeball rules and modifying them a bit, according to each age group," Barton said. "We just want to make it fun and keep them interested in the game."
Zumwalde said an adult dodgeball tournament is also new on the YMCA programs list this year. Registration and fee for the tourney are due by Jan. 21.
Another new Y program is called The Biggest Winner, an eight-week wellness education program for the entire family.
"This program starts Jan. 13 and is modeled on the popular 'Biggest Loser' television program," Zumwalde said. "But this is not just for people to lose weight, it's an educational and fitness program to really encourage making an entire lifestyle change."
She hopes the "Biggest Winner" will become a year-round program, but that will depend on how much interest it generates from the public.
YMCA program director Charlie Wilson said another new wrinkle at the Y is a regular lifeguard certification course.
He said lifeguard certification has been offered sporadically in the past, but the new program will be conducted on a monthly basis.
"A lot of swimming pools in this area have to hire lifeguards for their facilities," Wilson said. "This two-week course will allow people to become certified. But anyone taking the course will have to pre-register and pass an orientation test before they can get in."
Another new pool-related program is aqua-Zumba.
"An instructor stands on the pool deck leading various Zumba moves while the class repeats those moves in the water," Wilson said. "It's easier on the joints, especially for people with arthritis."
Zumwalde said the Y will continue to offer its traditional exercise and fitness programs, as well as child daycare services throughout the year.
"And visitors will also notice we've done a lot of painting and sprucing up the place to give it a brighter look," she added. "We've also installed energy-efficient lighting throughout the facility."