Friday, January 4, 2008

YMCA Frustrations

If you didn't catch the title, that's how I'm feeling about the YMCA right about now. Well, actually, I've been unhappy with the YMCA since we signed the kids up in August and it has been one unhappy moment after another.

To start with, the YMCA requires you to be a member BEFORE you can register for classes; however, you have to register for classes three and a half weeks before classes begin (every fall session this happens). In effect, that means you pay for an entire month and only get one week of effective membership. Then, my daughter's first class was canceled WITHOUT NOTICE so that they could put on this silly little "block party" which consisted of a free hot dog and soda, one inflatable bouncy ride, and a DJ playing completely inappropriate music for children.

So the kids were finally happily taking their classes. Being a family that has always eaten together, we found the evening only class schedule difficult to swallow but we found a way to live with it. Basically, Scott came home and prepared dinner on Thursday nights so it would be ready when we got home. On Fridays, he came to the Y and we ate in the in-house Subway since dinner would be too late otherwise.

Fridays, especially, was a pain and resulted in many unhappy Fridays. You see, our class schedule consisted of swimming from 4:00-4:30, a 45 minute wait, and then Sammy's aikido class from 5:15-6:15. According to the rules, my son is too young to be unattended. This meant I had to entertain a mobile infant for 2 1/2 hours either at the pool side, in a lobby area, or in a hallway...not very fun....for mom or baby. In addition to that, we found that after waiting in the lobby area for 45 minutes, we would go upstairs to where the aikido class was held only to find a small sign on the upstairs dance room door (where the class took place) saying the class was canceled. There was no prior notice, no sign advertising the cancellation downstairs where we'd see it, and sometimes there was no notice of any kind until staff came upstairs on their rounds and saw us all up there waiting 10 minutes after the class was schedule to begin. In two sessions, 4 or 5 of the 11 classes were canceled. When I complained I was told that they were a nonprofit organization...the gist was meant to say that being nonprofit they didn't really need to provide decent services for my money. I was also told that the Y was a great value for the cost. I personally don't think waiting for 45 minutes for a canceled class is a good value regardless of the cost...it isn't even worth being free for the total waste of time. When I complained to one of the directors, I got nothing but a blank stare and an insincere sorry.

Another complaint I have was how my daughter was treated. Part of the reason I signed my kids up was because I wanted my kids to get regular swimming instruction to help my daughter overcome her fear of water. I met with the aquatics director and was assured that her fear would be kept in consideration and that she would not be forced to do anything she was not ready to do. Examples of previous fearful kids turned happy swimmers were given to back it up. The first session was great! Her teacher was wonderful, got her into the pool, and even got her to bob under the water with only a few tears. What we were unaware of was that sessions change frequently, and with it, the teacher. We ask if she could get the same teacher considering her circumstances. But our request was not honored. The second session found her in a class of confident swimmers with her being the only beginner and a teacher that did not respect her fear or her "no" at all. He had her in major tears every week, sobbing uncontrollably the last class, and refusing to get near the water at all. We complained of course.

So, we decided to try the homeschool sessions which the aquatics people agreed may be a good fit. The teacher would not change every session and I could "volunteer" to help with the swimming class and be there with my daughter to help her. I'm informed that non-member volunteers (only my kids are members) not only get to work out for an hour before or after their volunteer time slot but they get nursery care during both their volunteer time and workout time. I figured I could volunteer during swimming and workout during their gymnastics class. Sounds great right! Well, it is too good to be true. Just tonight I was called to explain that my volunteer form was finally reviewed and that I was given incorrect information. Since the swim class is only 1/2 hour long, I would only have 1/2 of workout time allowed. In addition to this, I would only be given 5 minutes before and after class to change clothing. Can you imagine getting yourself and two children (ages 6 and 8) out of the pool, out of swimsuits, dried, and dressed in only 5 minutes? Now imagine that knowing that one of your children makes the tortoise look like Speedy Gonzales. It just isn't going to happen. Not only that but my kids' gymnastics class doesn't start until half an hour after swimming ends. This means I have to get the kids dried and dressed, supervise them while the wait for their next class and get them to the gym on the other side of the building(remember they are too young to be unsupervised) while I'm completing my 1/2 hour workout. Doesn't sound like I'll be getting much of a workout during that 1/2 hour does it?

Ok, I have one last complaint...no one seems to know anything. I've already touched on that above in that someone told me I'd get an hour to workout but that was incorrect. The nursery people also told me that volunteers do not get to use the nursery during their workout time. The membership services people who take your money also do not know how to provide you with a receipt. I'm still waiting for my December 5th receipt because when I was there last, the gal working didn't know how to print one. It seems that every time I have questions, I get either an "I don't know," a shoulder shrug, or an incorrect answer. I can easily get 3 or 4 totally different and conflicting answers to the same question.

We've decide to give the homeschool classes a shot (it's only 5 weeks per session) but I won't be volunteering. Instead I'll be entertaining that mobile infant for two hours trying to keep him from falling into the pool or getting trampled on by gymnasts. Meanwhile, I'll be looking for an alternative location for my daughter to get her gymnastics classes. We've already quit the aikido and went elsewhere for that.

So, does this sound like a fun place to be? It isn't. Is it worth $29 a month per child? Probably not.

1 comment:

Mo said...

Wow, that makes me glad I don't go to the Y. It sounds like a nightmare. The only time I've dealt with them is when my mom and I have gone to the WWW.