When George Atwater walks through the doors at the Everett Family YMCA, he is always greeted with an enthusiastic ‘hello!’ by the front desk staff. Atwater makes it a priority to go to the Y several times a week to take his favorite fitness classes and visit with friends. He became a Y member to take cycling classes and stay active, but also found value in the social connections and friendship.
“I love coming to the Y,” says Atwater. “I feel known and seen here. The staff knows my name and it’s a safe, welcoming place.”
Atwater has been a member at the Everett Y for over 10 years and is part of the vibrant senior community at the facility, participating in group exercise classes and social activities.
“I like to attend the classes to stay physically fit, but I enjoy all of the other benefits even more,” says Atwater. “It’s a place where I can stay active, meet new people and enjoy the camaraderie of the community.”
Research from the National Institute on Aging has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for a variety of physical and mental conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, cognitive decline, anxiety and depression. The YMCA of Snohomish County actively engages local seniors through group exercise classes, social activities, educational seminars, and field trips to build community and foster friendships.
“Meaningful relationships are a brilliant way to combat the isolation and loneliness some seniors may feel,” says Gael Gebow, Association Director of Healthy Living and Membership Advancement. “We provide classes and activities, but the magic happens within the community. People genuinely care and check up on each other to make sure everyone is doing okay.”
All six Snohomish County locations have thriving senior communities. They offer a menu of group exercise classes that are specifically designed for older populations, focusing on mobility, strength and flexibility, including water fitness, chair yoga, Zumba Gold® and Forever Fit.
In addition to focusing on physical health, the Y hosts coffee hours, potlucks, game and craft hours, support groups and more. All locations also offer the popular game of pickleball for all experience levels.
“Health is more than just how physically fit you may be,” says Gebow. “We want to provide opportunities to support our members socially and emotionally, as well. These three elements of health all contribute to a positive quality of life.”
The YMCA offers affordable membership options and seniors may be eligible for a free membership through their insurance.
To learn more about membership at the YMCA of Snohomish County, please visit ymca-snoco.org/join.
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