Keeping one’s body in good health is important, but not any more or less important than keeping up the well-being of one’s mind and spirit.
That’s where community organizations like East Lake’s North Pinellas YMCA branch come in.
Whether its water aerobics, running education, dancing, zumba, traditional cycling, yoga, meditation, tennis or even comic book design, the North Pinellas YMCA branch, located at 4550 Village Center Dr., has a variety of programs for members of all ages.
“We just try to offer programs that are developed not only for the body but also help with the spirit and the mind,” says Mike Hlady, membership director of the North Pinellas YMCA branch.
He added that many of the YMCA’s programs focus on the social aspect of one’s well-being and allow for locals to engage in positive activities.
Hlady says some of the most popular programs featured at the YMCA include swim lessons and camps during spring, summer and holiday breaks for kids. He added that a program called Learning & Growing, which engages children ages 3 to 5 years old in projects for developing friendships, is also popular for parents as well as kids.
“It’s a great way for them to socialize with other kids and learn some of the basics before they get into preschool,” said Hlady of the Learning & Growing program.
For adults, Hlady said that group exercise classes are big attractions, including dance, zumba, traditional cycling yoga, meditation and line dancing classes.
Hlady added that having a wide variety of classes is necessary, because many people start certain exercise behaviors and then stop and change them.
“We know a lot of these people need variety in order to engage in those classes,” Hlady said.
For seniors, Hlady said group classes that help them with developing stability and strength are popular.
The YMCA also offers unique classes such as Comic Book Design for youths ages 10 to 14, which teaches them how to develop storylines and plots. Other unique programs include Parents Night Out, which cares for kids ages 3 to 12 while parents attend community social events, and a Hard Rock Casino Bus Trip program, which is a monthly adult social trip to the casino in Tampa.
“A lot of the programs we bring to the Y are things that members have requested,” Hlady said.
He added that many of the programs' instructors are either professionals, certified nationally, dietitians or registered nurses, and a number of them are also volunteers.
“They just do it because they want to give back to the community,” said Hlady, who has been the membership director at the North Pinellas YMCA branch for about seven years.
Hlady said that most of the YMCA’s programs are run month to month, so it’s easy to get involved in a program.
The Y's programs are exclusively offered to members only, though Hlady says a financial program is available called People Helping People that gives assistance to those who qualify. He added that costs of programs are based on the types of memberships, and that no contract is involved.
“We do offer very flexible membership options,” Hlady said.
As far as upcoming programs are concerned, Hlady said a Lose-to-Win weight loss challenge, which has been very successful at other YMCAs, is being implemented in January. A running education program for youths will also begin after the New Year.
Many of the successes Hlady says he witnesses come from people who have either lost weight or who have gained strength, though he often sees other benefits, too.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t hear someone say they love coming to the Y because of the people they meet,” Hlady said.
He added that there isn’t a community center in East Lake, and that the Y serves as one. He said if anyone wants to learn more about the YMCA’s programs, then he or she should walk into the building and receive a tour.
“I just think that we offer something fun and engaging that allows people to reach their personal goals,” Hlady said.
If You Go
4550 Village Center Dr., Palm Harbor