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How to Get a Free YMCA Membership

How to Get a Free YMCA Membership

No matter where you live, it’s likely that there is a YMCA in your community. While there is typically a membership fee required to access the services and facilities that the YMCA has to offer, it is possible to get a reduced fee or free YMCA membership, depending on your family’s income or other factors. Read on for more information about how to get a free YMCA membership! 

What is the YMCA?

The YMCA is a non-profit organization that was founded in London in 1844 as a place where people could be empowered to reach their full potential. In the following years, the YMCA proliferated to locations all over the world, including the United States and Canada. No matter where you live in North America, it is likely that there is a YMCA near you.

If the first thing you imagine when you hear about the YMCA are images of swimming pools and workout facilities, you’re not alone. However, what you may not know is that depending on your locale, the YMCA may offer a range of services, events, and educational opportunities. 

Here are just some of the offerings that a YMCA location near you might have, in addition to health and wellness facilities like gyms and swimming pools: 

  • English as a second language classes (ESL)
  • Babysitter trainings for teens
  • Swimming lessons
  • Lifeguard trainings
  • Gymnastics classes for kids
  • After school programs and childcare
  • Summer camps for kids
  • Chronic disease prevention programs
  • Lectures and readings
  • Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Volunteer opportunities 

Membership at the YMCA typically comes with a monthly fee, and some of the programs above cost an additional fee to participate. That said, the YMCA is committed to including all community members, even those who do not currently have the means to pay. Below, we explain how to get a free YMCA membership. 

people sitting, doing stretches in a workout class in article on how to get a free YMCA membership

How to get a free YMCA membership

If you’re wondering how to get a free YMCA membership, you aren’t alone! The YMCA is a popular organization, with 2,400 locations around the United States. 

Monthly fees for YMCA memberships vary depending on the location. Where I live in New York City, a monthly membership for an individual is $67. For a family that includes one adult and any number of kids under 18, a membership costs $84. In other locations around the country, the cost might be a little higher or lower. In any case, these prices can be a significant barrier for those who are having trouble making ends meet. However, no matter where you live, the YMCA has income based memberships and financial assistance programs. While the membership might not be completely free, depending on your income, prospective members can get a steep discount on their memberships. 

The Decatur, IL YMCA displays a good example of the type of discount you may receive from an income based financial assistance program. Please note that the discount at your local YMCA might be different. 

Wondering how to get a free YMCA membership in other ways? Here are a few reasons why you might be eligible for a free YMCA membership: 

  • You are a member of the military. The Summit, NJ YMCA offers free memberships to military families. Check with your local YMCA branch to find out if they offer free memberships based on military or veteran status. 
  • You are a senior citizen and have access to SilverSneakers through your Medicare Advantage plan. 
  • You’re under 18. Many YMCA locations offer free summer memberships for teens and tweens, like the Twin Cities and Hudson YMCA and the 7th Grade Initiative in New Jersey

You should also check with your local YMCA to find out if they have free classes and programs that are accessible without a membership. For example, the Fon du Lac Family YMCA in WI offers free lifeguard trainings and this YMCA in NJ offers free programming for kids. These are just a few examples of how you can get involved in your local YMCA without paying for a membership. 

Finally, even if you find that you are not eligible for a free membership at the YMCA, you might find that your local branch offers free day passes for folks looking to try out their facilities. 

Whether you want to find out how to get a free YMCA membership near you, want to find free classes, or are just looking for a single free day pass, contact your nearest YMCA to find out!

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Catherine Hall, LMSW is a therapist at a small group practice in New York City. She earned her master of social work degree at New York University.


Thursday 30th of March 2023

On SSDI AND I APPLIED AS LOW INCOME but right now I can't afford the tuition to start SSDI is my only income I DNT get much it s JST enogh for rent. I had a triple bypass and really can't work right now Can I apply for financial aid to be able to start


Thursday 30th of March 2023

If you apply for income based membership and you can't afford the entire fees can I apply for financial aid

Catherine Marucci

Friday 31st of March 2023

Hi Marie. Contact the YMCA directly. They may have a program that can help.

Angie Smith

Thursday 23rd of March 2023

I have medicaid ( Priority Health) does that cover for free membership.

Catherine Marucci

Friday 24th of March 2023

Hi Angie. You may be able to access it via their SilverSneakers program.


Friday 24th of February 2023

How do I get a free membership

Catherine Marucci

Saturday 25th of February 2023

Hi. You can start by contacting your local YMCA to see what options they have.

Diane Fitzgerald

Sunday 19th of February 2023

I'm in Norfolk Va haven't been there yet planning on going this week of 2/20/2023 and I be back with a comment about my visit there ๐Ÿ˜Š