YMCA originally stood for “Young Mens’ Christian Association” and still does in many areas; in Coxsackie, at the Greene County Y, it’s been redefined to contain the words “Yahoos & Messy Angry Locals.”
Make no mistake about it, the traditional YMCA leaves the big box, franchise gyms like Planet Fitness and Best Fitness in the dust. The YMCA or the “Y” as it’s come to be known, has always been a venue for all ages and is a real community. Most Y-s have complete fitness facilities, the larger ones like the Bethlehem Y (https://cdymca.org/locations/bethlehem-ymca) have pools, steam room, sauna, hot tub, ice rink, fully equipped weights and cardio areas, and a list of programs both for fee and free. Nothing actually compares in terms of value for your money, and there are various discounts for seniors, low-income, and even for recommending new members.
Unlike the franchise fitness scams, you will not only find that the facilities are better and offer a wider range of activities and programs, but the staff is professional at the Y, and the members are a community. Besides, if you are a member of one Y you will be able to use the facilities of most other Y’s without paying an extra fee. Pulls the plug on Planet Fitness’ premium priced “Black Card.”
Regardless of Planet Fitness’ business model, it is by all standards a ripoff, and their bottom line does not include you. Their whole business model revolves around getting your to sign a contract, then accessing your bank accounts, while hoping you’ll never show up for a workout. Their employees are ignorant and their employee retention is abysmal at best. As for management: What management? Overall, PF is an accident looking for a place to happen; don’t let it be you.
We’d expect a family and community oriented organization like the YMCA to be much different. Like any organization, the Y has its own culture, too. And each local Y has its culture as well. Just as some are larger than others, some are better managed than others.
Here’s what one reader has to say:
Again, I have to mention the Bethlehem Y as being top-shelf in most all categories. But there are quite a few Y-s in the Capital District area, and I have not been able to visit them all, so some might even out score Bethlehem, though it’s unlikely. Bethlehem is clean, spacious, well organized, well equipped, professional, courteous, and a great place overall. So I’ll use the Bethlehem Y as the local standard to be striven for.
There’s always a contrast. You find a fantastic location and then you find a bottom-feeder. Same with the Capital District Y-s.
The local-yokel facility I’m reviewing today is the Green County YMCA in the backwater, hill-town Coxsackie, in Greene County. You know it’s backwater when there’s only one Y for the entire county!
But first I do want to mention that the front desk staff are lovely people. Always a warm greeting and a smile. My darts go to the Coxsackie Y management and the so-called “directors.”
The membership will generally reflect the region and that’s also true for the Coxsackie Y. Most of the members are geezers who take up a lot of space sharing stories and talking about their aches, pains, and hernias. They’re generally fun and great to talk to but then they also tend to be speed bumps for the rest of us. God love them, though! They’re the salt of the Earth.
In fact, most of the members, young and not so young, are generally sociable and some are downright exceptional. They make up the bulk of the membership and are courteous, friendly, considerate, and mind their manners. It’s those members that take the edge off the failings I’m talking about below.
Then there are some members who are inconsiderate and seem to have no respect or courtesy for the facility or for other members. They’re usually the 30-40 age group with an anger problem. They throw or drop weights or just manage to be unpleasantly loud when working out. Some, doing dead lifts, cause a deafening clang with each rep that disturbs members on the cardio equipment and generally throughout the Gym. There are contractual rules for using the facility and unwritten rules of sociability but these yahoos think the sun rises and sets on them and makes the atmosphere toxic.
I have complained to management on at least three different occasions about the deafening clangs from the deadlifters in that tiny space, but was told that they have to get mats. (That was a year ago. Nothing’s been done yet.) On one occasion, the director, a woman, told me that the noise was OK because they “were doing the exercise right.” By the way, the “mats” to absorb the shock of the falling weights have been coming for almost a year now. She seems really concerned about the problem. NOT!
When you wear the title and get the salary of a “director” or “manager,” you direct or manage. At the Coxsackie Y, the majority female staff does neither. At any given time they’re parked at their desks in their offices staring into their computers, oblivious to what is going on the workout floor. This applies both to the so-called director of the Coxsackie Y, a woman, and to the so-called “wellness director,” a woman. These two “directors” seem to be better at laughing loudly, chatting with each other, flirting with the geezers, than managing a health and fitness facility.
My personal opinion is their eyes shouldn’t be glued to their computer screens but should be on the workout floor and what’s going on out there. Trainers, if any, should be out there keeping things in line, too. Both are invisible most of the time.
There is a video on YouTube showing the Coxsackie Y but you’d be a real fool to believe that it’s so roomy and clean. It’s not. In fact, on any day you can walk into the men’s locker room and wonder (1) was it ever cleaned that week, or (2) have they let the pigs out today? The men’s locker room is badly ventilated so that when some of the members have their toxic dump, you can’t be in the locker room (the crapper is right there in the smallish locker room).
Members also seem to have a problem with closing locker doors. Typical of the area, they must all live in barns or sheds.
The weights area is a mess. Members leave weights on the machines or just don’t put things back after they use them. As I mentioned above, it’s also dangerous because the place is so congested, some members drop or throw weights, and the staff does nothing to correct the poor gym etiquette, even when one complains to them.
The bad manners of some of the members, the overall congestion and clutter in the facility, and the indifference and lack of interest of the director and other upper-level staff make the place an accident risk at any given time. You have to wonder who is insuring them.
There are “trainers” and I have seen only one female trainer picking up after the slobs or wiping down mats, which frequently are dirty or gritty. Again, you can’t make shit shine. When members are pigs and walk all over everything, and don’t give a damn about others, you get a Greene County Y situation.
The other day I observed clumps of dried mud in the area of the cardio machines; apparently some member decided to wear his work boots on the workout floor rather than change into sneakers. That, again, is an example of poor facility management. In fact, I had to tell management that one yahoo was going to have an accident because he was working out without any shoes on. Why would anyone have to tell the attendants or the managers about something that was in plain view…that is, if they could take their eyes off their computer screens or each other for a minute.
On their website (https://cdymca.org/locations/greene-county-ymca/) the Greene Y website lists a number of “personal trainers” but I’ve only ever seen two of them and I’ve been there at different times. Most of the time there isn’t one there. Besides, of the two I’ve seen, the male (Wayne, according to the website) didn’t make much of an impression but the woman (Sue, according to the website) is very interested in what’s going on and is the only one I’ve ever seen, including the so-called wellness director, picking up after members, wiping mats down, and generally taking an interests in the place.
In general, the comparison of these two local YMCA facilities is like a comparison of night and day. That doesn’t mean that a smaller facility can’t be well managed and kept clean and safe. What it does mean is that either management is either incompetent or indifferent at the Greene County Y. When you’re a manager you can’t be everyone’s buddy; you have to manage. That’s the manager’s duty and responsibility both to his or her organization and to the members he/she is there to serve.
[Name withheld at reader’s request]
We agree with many of the reader’s comments in general, since we are also members of the Y (the Bethlehem Y) but frequently use the Greene County Y when in that area. The culture is definitely different and management is characteristic of the area, that is, provincial and unsophisticated, which likely results in the deficiencies noted by the reader.
It’s a no-brainer that the free-weights area is a dangerous place even when members have some discipline. But when members are not disciplined, have no respect for others, and are not monitored or corrected by the paid staff, that’s a double danger. As for the noise in the workout area, the Hearing Health Foundation has made a statement about gym noise and hearing loss. There’s plenty on the Internet on the subject of gym noise and hearing loss; just google the terms “gym noise hearing loss.”
We work out at the Greene County Y from time to time and can vouch for what our reader has to say. We’d go further to mention that most gyms and fitness facilities provide background music. The Greene County Y does too but it’s poor quality and incredibly repetitive. But that’s no excuse for the smartphones on the gym floor. Too many members are tuning or talking while trying to walk at the same time. Many upscale gyms won’t allow the devices in the workout area because they know they cause accidents because the users are too stupid to stop and do what they have to do, and then continue walking. Most of them can’t chew gum and walk at the same time. it’s dangerous. And you have more than your share of these dumbasses roaming around the congested area of the Greene County Y. Management apparently is blind to the problem.
At any given time you know that most of the neanderthals are lifting much more than they should be lifting. That’s why they have to drop the weights or throw them, or make so much noise with them. The weights are just too heavy for them. So drop some of it you fat jerks!
Far be it for the absent trainers or the dimwitted management to ensure the safety of the Neanderthals and the other members by giving some lifting advice. Gee, that would mean doing their jobs. Perish the thought.
There are numerous, perhaps thousands of articles and studies on the problems of cell phones in the workout area. The New York Times has also chimed in on the subject with a very interesting article on the subject (New York Times Article). You don’t have to believe us when we tell you that the moron with the phone in the gym needs to be told to leave it in the locker, or leave. Just google the subject.
We blame the directors of the Greene County Y and the Capital District YMCA, is the parent organization responsible for oversight of the Greene County Y. It’s their job to ensure that management works, that the facilities are clean and safe, and that the rules are posted and enforced.
Addendum: Healthcare and compensation scammers find a home at the Y. On yet another note we have to note that we wonder what the scam is with all of these guys on leave because of “injuries” and waiting for the compensation board or the state insurance corporation to decide on their “disability.” One at the Greene County Y was recently chatting with another goon, apparently from the NYS Department of Corrections or some law enforcement agency, about how his neurologist was taking his time with the determination and the other was still on paid leave and couldn’t go back to work. What in hell are they doing in the gym lifting weights if they’re so incapacitated. And I don’t mean low weights as in rehab, I mean WEIGHTS. They have a scam going and it’s not right or fair to the rest of us, especially if we’re footing the bill for their fake conditions. There are more examples and everyone there knows about them. They banter about it right out in the open!!! So let’s fix it, why don’t we? Where are the NYS authorities when all of this fraud is going on?