by Lauren Pope, Staff Writer
A new study claims that loneliness is deadly. Those who are socially isolated are more likely to die than their more connected peers, and this is especially true of those with cardiovascular disease and cancer. Staying involved in our community helps keep us healthier and happier, but it can sometimes feel challenging to make those important connections, especially if you’re new to town. Luckily, Zachary is served by a community hub in the form of the YMCA. I stopped in to chat with Director Laura O’Brien about the ways that the Y builds healthy bodies and healthy communities.
If you head into the Zachary Branch of the YMCA on any given morning, you’ll find summer camp kids happily at play, toddlers hard at work at swim lessons, and a few regulars doing their morning laps. Depending on when you come, you might also see a senior exercise class happening in the aerobics room and some teens working out in the breezy outdoor weight room.
The Zachary YMCA has camp programs that coincide with all ZCS holidays. Their current summer camp program serves 160 campers. The camp includes lunch and snacks in partnership with The Three O’Clock Project. In addition to the summer camp meals, the Project also provides healthy snacks for the school year after school program. All campers learn about water safety, and are also given the opportunity to take swim lessons during camp at a reduced camp rate. Water safety is a huge part of the Y’s mandate, and so it’s made a priority at camp.
The Y also partnered with Zachary Schools to teach swim lessons to all ZCS 2nd Grade students last year. “It was important that we did the program before the start of summer break,” O’Brien explained. “We had several students in the program who had never been in the water before, which was really eye opening. We want to reach these kids before they encounter water on their own over the summer.” The program was a huge success, and O’Brien hopes to continue it in the coming years.
In addition to learn-to-swim and water safety programs, the Y also offers water aerobics and lane swimming in their outdoor pool. Members can register for classes and lanes at 5 a.m. the day before the class. Some classes, like the extremely popular Light and Low class, fill up almost immediately. A new offering called 20-20-20 which offers 20 minutes of strength, 20 minutes of yoga, and 20 minutes of aerobics is also very popular, but usually has a few openings for newcomers.
Of course, there are also classes that cater to those looking for more intense workouts including HIIT and Cycling. No matter where you are in your fitness journey, there’s a great chance that the Y has a class or activity that will help you achieve your goals. And just as importantly, you’ll have the chance to meet your wonderful Zachary neighbors. Those interested in joining the Y can sign up online or in person at the Americana location of the YMCA.