It’s been a long time coming for the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City. Like many other YMCA groups, the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City was originally founded to provide a source of strength and positive influence for young men who had traveled far from their families to make a new life for themselves. Today, the centers are multi-dimensional, offering a diverse range of services through 10 branch locations and more than 20 program sites. The Y has grown and changed with the times, providing services and solutions to community problems that have a positive and lasting impact on the population. The Association’s recent partnership with FitMarc and Les Mills’ BODYPUMP is just one example of the group’s impassioned commitment to innovation and meaningful change.
According to Branch Executive Director and Wellness Programming head, Michele Taylor, the YMCA of Oklahoma City has always had a strong group exercise program. A veteran with the Y’s for more than two decades, Michele has seen the Y’s fitness programming evolve over the years and, more importantly, adapt to the demands and needs of the communities that her centers service. When it came to Les Mills, Michele admits that she was "always aware that Les Mills offered a great instructor training program," but wasn’t certain if a pre-choreographed format was the right fit for her branches. "We have veteran instructors who have been with us for years. Classes are active and our members appear to be happy." So what changed?
In February of this year, Michele along with Edmond Branch Wellness Director, Jefferson Killgore, attended FitMarc’s Springfest Event, one of the quarterly continuing education and instructor development conventions held in Arlington, TX. At the event, Michele and Jefferson were given free range, participating in management development workshops and a full day of instructor workshops and master classes before returning back to Oklahoma City. As Jefferson noted, "what was most surprising to me was the sense of pride and community seen in the instructors there. There were nearly 700 instructors from other Y’s in Houston and San Antonio and many others from traditional health clubs. They were excited to be there and you could see that they were a part of a real team of instructors. They were a family."
Afterwards, Michele shared that she was most impressed by the programs. After experiencing all 8 Les Mills programs and learning about the effort and research that goes into the development of every workout, Michele saw a direct connection between the quality and consistency that could be created by offering Les Mills classes and the potential to reach more people in the communities their branches service. A few months later Association President Michael Grady made the partnership official when he signed the agreement to bring BODYPUMP to 9 branch locations on the eve of the 2010 General Assembly of YMCA’s; just days before the unveiling of the new YMCA brand strategy.
On October 9th, nine branches launched Les Mills BODYPUMP. As expected, the program has had a significant impact on instructor development and membership. Here is what some of the branches have been saying:
On launch day "We had every piece of equipment in use (30) which included 1 instr. Ages ranged from one 12-yr-old—who didn’t like being limited on the weights he could use—to about 6 senior adults. Four of those seniors are continuing to attend the class. We had a DJ operating sound. He presented awards for our pumpkin decorating contest prior to the class, and kept some music going and made announcements periodically before class to draw people into the gym. He also operated the sound for the class and again afterward."
-Don Strain, Executive Director
We have had 123 attendees to Body Pump since our launch on October 9th; an average of 13 per class, by far our most popular group exercise class. Prior to BODYPUMP, class sizes at Chickasha averaged 4 –5 participants.
-Jonathan Teal, Executive Director
Well, we had a week long launch but the first day we had 30. We have had 27 units join since our launch.
-Ryan Epley, Executive Director
For launch, we had approximately 70 people attend. We had 3 stages for instructors, home-made snacks, and door prizes. We offer 7 BP classes per week averaging 15 to 20 participants at each class. It is the best class for toning and strengthening the body. Members love it! One member said "she loves the class because it works the entire body in one hour." Seeing results in strength of participants is very rewarding as an instructor. We are also seeing more guys in class –a real plus! Midtown had a guy come in for the Tuesday 6:15 am class and told me he joined just to take BODYPUMP! A member also told me... "This class makes my Tuesday and Thursday mornings actually enjoyable....I look forward to waking up early and being here."
-Michele Taylor, Executive Director