Young Men’s Christian Association Vs. American Family Fitness Melissa R. Davis ENG 215 Professor Heather Curran May 22, 2007 To lead a healthy lifestyle, it is always good to maintain a fitness regimen. American Family Fitness and the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) both offer many exercise options to stay in shape. American Family Fitness is introduced as a fitness center for Richmond, Virginia since 1988 for people to become “Fit as You Want to be” (About American Family Fitness, 2007).
The YMCA, however, is superior based on their mission to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all (Wikipedia: YMCA, 2007). To know that the YMCA is better, it is important to look at their history first. “George Williams, born on a farm in 1821, came to London twenty years later as a sales assistant in a draper’s shop, a forerunner of today’s department store. He and a group of fellow drapers organized the first YMCA to substitute Bible study and prayer for life on the streets. (History, 2007) The idea proved to be popular everywhere because this organization got young men, in the big cities, off the unhealthy streets and into a place where they could stay. The YMCA also taught these men Christian principles, so they could be better people. The first YMCA in North America opened in Montreal, Quebec on November 25, 1851 and then, in the same year, another opened in the United States on December 29 in Boston, Massachusetts (YMCA, 2007).
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The idea, however, was unusual then because it crossed the rigid lines that separated the different churches and social classes in England (A Brief History of the YMCA Movement, 2007). The YMCA was always known for contributing to the United States during challenging wartimes. During the Civil War, membership shrunk to one-third its size when members marched off to battle. As a result, the fifteen remaining YMCAs formed the U. S. Christian Commission to assist the troops and prisoners of war.
They even gave more than one million Bibles to the fighting men (History, 2007). The YMCA also helped with World War II. The National Council of the YMCAs joined with others around the world to assist prisoners of war in thirty-six nations (History, 2007). For entertainment, it also helped form the United Service Organization (USO), which sent in performers from around the world for the soldiers to enjoy (History, 2007). “Y’s worked with displaced persons and refugees as well, and sent both workers and money abroad after the war to help rebuild damaged YMCA buildings. (History, 2007) The donations contributed to the soldiers show their support for the United States it also shows their excitement in helping these American soldiers know God. The YMCA is a world-wide, largely nonsectarian and apolitical, social movement with a special focus on community development and youth involvement. YMCAs in the United States and Canada use a red triangle logo to represent their mission. The three sides of the triangle symbolize the mission statement to “build a healthy spirit, mind, and body” (YMCA, 2007).
The first YMCA was concerned with Bible study, now the organization has moved on to a more integral approach to youth work. “Around six years after its birth, an international YMCA conference in Paris decided that the objective of the organization should become ‘Christian discipleship developed through a program of religious, educational, social and physical activities’ (YMCA, 2007). This discipleship represents the YMCAs mission to bring people to the Lord by staying fit. To promote their Christian principles, the YMCA had many programs for people of all ages to enjoy.
For children, there are summer camps that they can attend. The first residential camp in North America began in 1889, when Big Cove YMCA Camp was established in Merigomish, Nova Scotia. However, the first summer camp named “Kamp Kanawana” opened in Montreal in 1894 (History, 2007). The camps include several fun activities for young people to take pleasure in such as archery, arts and crafts, hiking, and drama and theater. For even more fun there are special events that “include family nights, a carnival, and overnight activities” (Ready, Set, Camp! Brochure, 2007).
These activities prove that the YMCA promotes family time and wants kids at camp to have fun. Swimming lessons are another program that youth of all ages can participate in. “The first was the development of mass swim lessons in 1906 by George Corsan at the Detroit YMCA. ” (History, 2007) To teach swimming strokes, Corsan started on land, using the crawl stroke first as a confidence builder. He also created ideas of the learn-to-swim campaign and used bronze buttons as rewards for swimming proficiency. A button was given to each boy who swam fifty feet (History, 2007).
Now swimming lessons are taught to boys and girls. Awards and certificates are still given out to each child as a sign of achievement. In 2006, the YMCA celebrated the 100th anniversary of the creation of group swim lessons (YMCA, 2007). To include adults in the YMCA experience, they created many exercise programs to help guide their physical needs. Group exercise is commonly used by adults to stay healthy and enjoy the company of other friends in the community. They offer kickboxing, which is a moderate to high intensity workout to burn off calories.
Pilates is another class that is used to strengthen and lengthen the body by focusing on the core of the body. Another exercise class that is offered is Yoga. “Yoga is a mind and body workout focusing on stretching, strengthening, and breathing. ” This class teaches how to relax and promotes calmness, while enhancing your body’s strength and flexibility (Group Exercise Class Description, 2007). Cycling classes are offered to adults to raise their endurance and stamina. Introduction to Cycle is a thirty minute instructional class that is perfect for beginners. It teaches bike set-up, hand positions, and offers a low intensity ride. The regular cycle class is a forty-five minute indoor cycling class that combines heart rate training in a high-energy group environment that integrates music, camaraderie, and visualization in a complete mind and body exercise routine. ” (Cycling Class Descriptions, 2007) This cycling class is a low to high intensity class ran by the YMCA to keep adults fit and active. Another example of a cycling class is Worship Cycle. This is a great cycle workout using contemporary Christian music to lift your spirits as well as your heart rate (Cycling Class Descriptions, 2007).
The YMCA also notices the older adults as well. They offer luncheons for seniors to meet new friends in the community and have a healthy, nutritious lunch. Not only do the younger adults have group exercise, but the YMCA holds group exercises for the seniors too; this keeps their bones and bodies strong. SilverSneakers, is a program that active older adults can participate in to “have fun and move to music through a variety of exercises designed to increase muscular strength. ” (Group Exercise, 2007) This class gives them a wide range of movement and provides activity for daily living skills.
Elastic tubing with handles, hand-held weights, and a ball are offered for resistance; a chair is used for seated and standing support (Group Exercise, 2007). “Concerned with the rising rates of obesity among adults and children in America, YMCAs around the country are joining with the non-profit America on the Move to help Americans increase their physical fitness by walking more frequently. ” (YMCA, 2007) This quote expresses the involvement YMCA has with the importance of good exercise, like walking, to help Americans with obesity. The gym equipment and the pool memberships are a benefit to all.
The gym equipment can be used by any member of the YMCA. The gym includes treadmills, eliptical gliders, weight machines, and cycles; all to be used to stay in shape and form a healthier lifestyle. As a member you have the privelage of using the indoor pool facilities, as well as the spa and hot tub. For a small increase in price members can advance their uses to the outdoor pools for the summer time. The outdoor pools include a big pool with a diving board and ropes for swimming laps. There is also a child’s pool that is shallow and has waterfalls for them to play under. It is very common for YMCAs to have swimming pools and weight rooms, along with facilities for playing sports that include basketball, volleyball, and raquetball. ” (History, 2007) This proves that the many sports that we all participate in today were introduced at the YMCA. In 1895, William Morgan invented volleyball at the Holyoke, Massachusetts YMCA. He created volleyball because he felt basketball was too strenuous for businessmen. In 1922, YMCAs held their first championship in the game, and this became the U. S. Open in 1924, when non-YMCA teams were permitted to compete (History, 2007).
Baketball was invented by James Naismith in December of 1891. Naismith introduced the game of basketball to a class of “incorigibles” after the director of the International YMCA Training School, Luther Gulick, challenged him to do so within two weeks (History, 2007). The incorrigibles (hopeless men) loved this game of basketball and introduced it to their home towns over Christmas break. Not only was basketball introduced by a YMCA institution, but the game’s first professional team came from the Trenton, New Jersey YMCA (History, 2007).
Raquetball was created by Joe Soebak, a member of the YMCA who couldn’t find other squash players of his caliber and who didn’t care for handball, in 1950 at the Greenwich, Connecticut YMCA. Soebak tried paddleball and platform tennis to invent an idea of using a string raquet similar to a platform tennis paddle to allow a greater variety of shots (History, 2007). There are only seven locations for American Family Fitness (AFF). Their mission is “each day our employees will strive to improve the physical and mental well-being of each member. ” Their mission is to have their employees help all the members become fit and healthy.
This mission statement focuses on their concern for their members. AFF would argue if people want to maintain overall health, introduce fitness to their family, or fine-tune their competitive edge, they have what is takes for everyone to do so. The programs that AFF offers are aquatics, court sports, cardiovascular machines, free weights, mechanical weights, and circuit training. “Upon joining AmFamFit your are eligible for a free 8-week course designed to teach you the basics of exercise and familiarize you with the many types of fitness we have to offer. (Frequently Asked Questions, 2007) They insist that their AmFam-U course is the best to teach people the fundamentals of a successful exercise program (About AFF, 2007). AFF’s focus isn’t on children, but they do have a KidZone child center and specialized youth programs. However, AFF does fundraise for the well-being of children in the Children’s Hospital. On October 25, 2003, approximately five-hundred people participated in the American Family Fitness Center’s 10K run and 5K walk to benefit Children’s Hospital. The history of fundraising for Children’s Hospital at AFF has been ongoing for years, with more than $60,000 raised since 1998.
This first-time event was not only open to members, but also to the public. John Daniel recalls his injury as a child and rehabilitation at Children’s Hospital of Richmond, VA. Thirteen years later and paralyzed from his head injury, Daniel attends the 10K run and 5K walk. He is proud to come and support Children’s Hospital (American Family Fitness, 2004). Brian Evens, President for Richmond Fitness Inc. , the parent company for AFF Centers, says “As children, we all had dreams about our futures, these children inside [the hospital] have dreams too, and coming out today, you’ve helped make part of those dreams a reality” (AFF, 2007).
Evens is expressing his feelings that American Family Fitness members and others in the community should donate to the Children’s Hospital to support all these sick children with so many dreams. Although AFF makes many donations to the Children’s Hospital, they are still a profitable organization. Being a profitable organization means that the money they receive from membership dues goes to their shareholders. YMCA is still superior in this situation. Their organization is non-profit, so their profits go back to their members, the equipment for the gyms, and the surroundings communities.
Right now members paying their dues are contributing to the funds for swimming lessons for children in the community who can’t afford them. “Each member is call to focus on sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and striving for spiritual, intellectual, and physical well-being of individuals and wholeness of communities” (YMCA, 2007). This explains why that YMCA is better because the programs that they offer are Christian related; meaning that the activities will always have a focus on God.
It is always known that the participation is done not only for physical improvement, but for God as well. To conclude, it is proven that the YMCA is a better choice for families who want to stay fit and promote Christian principles to their household. The YMCA was created for the sole purpose of establishing a healthy environment for members to exercise, meet new friends, and worship God. When joining the YMCA it is known that the atmosphere will be filled with good people; the staff and the members. The reason I chose the YMCA is exactly for these qualities.
I know that when I go there to workout I will be treated well by the staff, and I will know that the other members are looking for the same Christian-like environment that I am looking for. Reference Page “American Family Fitness Raises $9,000 for Children’s Hospital. ” Club Industry. February 1, 2004. FindArticles. com. May 15, 2007. A Brief History of the YMCA Movement. Retrieved May 11, 2007, from About the YMCA Web site: http://www. ymca. net/about_the_ymca/history_of_the_ymca. html YMCA. (2007, May 11). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:58, May 3, 2007, from http://en. ikipedia. org/w/index. php? title=YMCA&oldid=130175634 Midlothian Family YMCA (May 2007). Cycling Class Descriptions. Midlothian, Virginia. Midlothian Family YMCA (May 2007). Group Exercise Class Descriptions. Midlothian, Virginia. Midlothian Family YMCA (May 2007). Ready, Set, Camp! Brochure. Midlothian, Virginia. American Family Fitness. Retrieved May 22, 2007, from About AFF Web site: http://www. amfamfit. com/about. php American Family Fitness. Retrieved June 11, 2007, from American Family Fitness Web site: http://www. amfamfit. com/faq. php