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Free and Cheap YMCA Programs!

Free and Cheap YMCA Programs!

Does a gym membership fee seem out of reach?  Are you interested in a community center for more than a workout?  We have information for you on YMCA programs, some of which may be free or cheap for you!

What is the YMCA?

The Young Men’s Christian Association is a non-profit that was founded in 1844 and is one of the largest international organizations with locations in 120 countries!  Their goal is to

“make a positive impact on individuals, families and communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.”

Most people know the “Y” as a gym, but they’ve grown as community centers to include childcare, after school programs, virtual learning centers, camps, sports, health programs, social responsibility programs, food distribution centers, and more!


Many locations offer childcare so that parents can work out, take classes, or be involved in community events.  During the pandemic, over 1000 locations offered childcare for families of essential workers!  Free drop-in childcare may also be provided at YMCA programs in 38 states for families who are attending vaccine appointments.

After school programs

The YMCA offers after school programs for students!  This YMCA programs give kids a safe place to interact with other kids and enjoy activities until their parent or caregiver is off work.  These after school programs are often located at schools so minimal transportation is needed!

Virtual learning centers

With the pandemic, many families faced challenges when schools closed.  They needed a safe place for their children to learn during the workweek.  YMCA programs opened many virtual learning centers so that kids could continue their online education with on-site staff.


The YMCA hosted nearly 365,000 kids at camps in 2020!  Did you know that there are many types of YMCA programs for campers?  They range from day camps, to overnight camps, to family camps.  They also offer specialty camps for kids to develop skills in specific interests like: music, sports, teen adventure, cooking, and more!  The YMCA creates camp experiences geared toward kids with special needs as well so everyone can be included! 

YMCA programs swim lessons


The YMCA offers sports programs for all ages!  Starting as early as six months with swim safety programs, all the way through fitness classes for senior citizens to keep them mobile.  There is even a competitive gymnastics program!  The YMCA programs for fitness include personal trainers, group exercise classes, yoga, swim therapy, online classes for home workouts, running clubs, group activity trips, and more.  Some sports include:

  • basketball
  • soccer
  • hockey
  • tennis
  • volleyball
  • pickleball
  • golf
  • gymnastics
  • t-ball
  • judo
  • dance

and more!

Health programs

Beyond sports, the YMCA also offers a number of programs to help you achieve and maintain health!  The swimming program trains for water safety and encourages physical activity.  They also encourage healthy lifestyles through exercise, diet, and health monitoring education by specialty classes that may include:

  • Healthy Weight and Your Child
  • Diabetes Prevention Program
  • Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program
  • Livestrong cancer program

Social activities

Did you know that you can find an amazing network of others who have common interests by joining some of the social activities available through YMCA programs? The specialty classes cover a range of activities that can include:

  • writing
  • knitting
  • pottery
  • cooking
  • circus performance
  • running
  • meditation
  • travel
  • languages

and more!

Social responsibility programs

One of the ways the YMCA programs truly serve their communities is through their social responsibility resources!  These include mentorship programs, summer reading programs, tutoring, career counseling, community service partnerships, military outreach, immigrant support, Youth and Government programs, camp counselor training, and more!

These resources help kids be involved in their own communities to bring positive change and possible career opportunities!

Food distribution centers

Did you know that YMCA programs provide over 4 million pounds of food to families every month?  The YMCA has been involved in providing year-round meals for kids for many years.  These efforts have increased during the pandemic to help ensure that families have access to nutritious food.  The YMCA currently has over 1000 food distribution sites they assist with!

How much do YMCA programs cost?

Some YMCA programs are completely free, while others may have reduced fees or a sliding scale cost.  These vary by state and location.  To find the YMCA programs near you, please use the Find Your Y tool!

Do Medicaid or Medicare cover YMCA membership?

Some states receive federal grant funds for partnerships with the YMCA to provide gym memberships for Medicaid enrollees.  Check with your local Medicaid office to see if you may qualify!

Some Medicare Advantage plans may cover gym memberships or reimburse for the fees.  Check with your Medicare plan to see if this may be offered!

Your health insurance may also offer benefits that cover YMCA membership!

Want more free and cheap health resources?

We have many free and cheap health resources for you to check out!

After 27 years in law enforcement and state Veterans Affairs agencies, I found myself working from home and looking for dollar-stretching resources. Government programs can be notoriously difficult to navigate and I'm happy to lend my experiences to make this easier for others!

Denise miraglia

Thursday 9th of March 2023

I have Medicare as my primary and my secondary is keystone first health choices as my secondary and I'm on a fixed income can you tell me if there's a plan that can help me

Catherine Marucci

Thursday 9th of March 2023

Hi Denise. The easiest way to find out is to call your local YMCA. They will be able to tell you if they have any free or discount options available and if your type of insurance has been used there to access membership.

Nettie Sturgeon

Tuesday 14th of February 2023

Does Medicaid pay for YMCA membership in Glasgow KY ?


Thursday 27th of April 2023

@Catherine Marucci, Buenas tardes , puedo ser miembro de ymca free si tengo Medicaid ? Cómo debo hacer si así fuera ? Gracias .

Catherine Marucci

Wednesday 15th of February 2023

Hi Nettie. If you contact the YMCA in your area directly, they will be able to tell you which programs they have that still have funding.

Joshua Baker

Monday 16th of January 2023

Can I get a discount for membership with medicaid

Catherine Marucci

Tuesday 17th of January 2023

Hi Joshua. The YMCA in some states provides gym memberships for Medicaid enrollees. Check with your local Medicaid office to see if you may qualify. Also, some Medicare Advantage plans may cover gym memberships or reimburse for the fees. You can call your Medicare provider to see if they do.