Working out is a big part of my life. It's been even more important to me in my pregnancy, and I'll credit it as the main reason why I've felt so good so far. Working out gives me energy, clears my mind, de-stresses me, adds structure to my day, and helps me feel good in my clothes.

I'd heard from friends that the local YMCA, Anthony Bowen, was really nice (it was renovated and recently reopened in September 2013), and I had been wanting to check it out. I was invited to try the place out for a week and was pleasantly surprised with the facility and amenities they offer.

Here are the 10 reasons (in no particular order) why I cancelled my previous gym membership to join the Y:
1. There's a 2-story rock climbing wall

I haven't rock climbed since college, and I'm not going to actually try it again until after the baby is born, but it's nice to know the option is there. I used to do this 1-2 times a month. If it's a been a while for you too, don't worry, they have people there to supervise you and show you proper technique and customized climbing routes for your level.

2. Membership includes a plethora of Fitness Classes (yoga, spin, barre, weight-training, etc.)

The main reason I have a gym membership is for classes. I like to do a variety of classes each week. Otherwise, I get really bored and come up with a dozen excuses not to run on the treadmill or get on the elliptical machine. I never thought the Y would provide everything I wanted, but they do and more. They have 3 Group Exercise Studios offering more than 100 classes a week, and one of the DC's largest Cycling Studios

3. It's affordable!
Image from the Y

Odds are, a membership at the Y is less expensive than what you're currently paying at your gym. For me, a membership at the Y is $40/month less than what I was paying at my previous gym!! That's a $480 savings a year (aka a nice weekend getaway)! Give your local Y a call for price details.

4. They have a Culinary Studio that offers Cooking Classes
Image from the Y

The Y understands that fitness and good nutrition go hand-in-hand, and that many people don't know where to start when it comes to eating what's good for their body. They offer nutrition and cooking classes with tips on how to cook on a budget and eventually classes like knife skills (I cannot wait for this!).

5. Robust selection of cardio machines, weights, and fitness equipment
Image from the Y

For the days I just feel like hopping on a machine to watch The Real Housewives of (insert any city), the YMCA Anthony Bowen offers 100 pieces of cardiovascular and strength equipment to chose from.

6. A rooftop terrace plus locker rooms with showers, steam rooms, and saunas

At the YMCA Anthony Bowen there's a rooftop terrace for classes (such as sunrise yoga and sunset cycling), seminars, social events and relaxation in addition to really nice locker rooms for men and women with steam rooms, saunas, and towel service.

7. Includes Child Care

The "Child Watch & Cool Kids Club" programs obviously appeal to me as I look forward to continuing my workout routine after my baby is born.

8. Aerial Yoga
Image from the Y

Aerial yoga has been on my must-try list for several months, and the Y is the closest location to me in DC that offers it. Like rock climbing, I will have to wait until post baby to try it but love that the option is there! See the class schedule for when aerial yoga is offered.

9. Indoor Swimming Pool
Image from the Y

I took a water aerobics class thinking it would be 'no sweat' and was completely shocked at how tiring it was and how sore I was the next couple of days. During class, the instructor offered varying levels of intensity, and because I like to challenge myself, I, of course, went for the highest intensity. By the end of class, I had to take a break at the edge of the pool... remember my guppy reference on Instagram? I loved it, and it's the best fitness class I've taken this year.

10. Community Involvement
The best part of Ys everywhere is how actively involved they are in community improvement. "The Y addresses the most pressing needs in our community by making sure that everyone—regardless of age, income or background—has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. YMCA Anthony Bowen uses financial gifts to help individuals and families in need participate in programs such as: summer camp, health and wellness, child care, <...> and more <...> In 2012, the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington’s Caring for Community fund provided $2.4 million in scholarships and subsidies to more than 10,000 local children and families who turned to the Y for help." Can you say the same for your gym?

The facility at YMCA Anthony Bowen is the new standard for all YMCAs. So you may also be surprised to learn that the YMCA near you fu!fills all of your fitness needs. If you live in DC, stop by Anthony Bowen for a tour or contact your local YMCA to give the Y a try.



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