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Why is YMCA expensive?

Why Are YMCA Memberships So Expensive in 2023?

If you’ve been thinking of getting a gym membership, you’ve probably considered the YMCA hoping that it’s cheap because it’s a non-profit organization. 

However, you might be surprised to find out that YMCA is more expensive than most alternatives. So, why does a nonprofit charge so much?

Through our research, we established that YMCA memberships are primarily expensive because it offers a wide range of programs. With a YMCA membership, you get access to all other YMCA gyms, pools, classes, sports programs, and more. Their competent staff, operational costs, and community outreach programs also contribute to the high membership fees.

This article looks at YMCA memberships and why they’re so expensive. Read on to find out if they’re worth the cost.

How Does the YMCA Membership Program Work?

The Y Logo. YMCA Membership

YMCA (also known as the Y) offers a wide range of services under its membership program. When you join their gym membership, you get access to all YMCA facilities across the country.

 Therefore, if there’s a YMCA around your home and another one at your workplace, you can use both of them at will.

A YMCA membership also gives you access to hundreds of group fitness classes, pools, walking tracks, and other YMCA amenities. These memberships are monthly with no contracts, so there are no penalties for skipped months.

Average YMCA Membership Cost

YMC membership plans vary depending on the member’s age. There is also a family package that includes up to 2 adults and their kids. Here’s a breakdown of YMCA membership packages:

YMCA  Family Membership (Per Family of Two Adults)

Initiation Fee$95
Monthly Fee$72

YMCA Youth Membership Fees (Per Teen 12 to 17)

Initiation Fee$30
Monthly Fee$22
Cancellation Fee$0

YMCA Young Adult Membership Fees (Per Young Adult)

Initiation Fee$30
Monthly Fee$33
Cancellation Fee$0

YMCA Adult Membership Fees (Per Adult Over 30)

Initiation Fee$50
Monthly Fee$44
Cancellation Fee$0

YMCA Senior Adult Membership Fees (Per Adult Over 62)

Initiation Fee$30
Monthly Fee$36
Cancellation Fee$0

YMCA Senior Family Membership Fees (Two Adults, One At Least 62)

Initiation Fee$30
Monthly Fee$36
Cancellation Fee$0

If you choose a family membership, you can either choose a YMCA family membership or a YMCA senior family membership if you or your spouse is above 62. Both family packages cover one minor child within your household.

Of course, these prices are subject to change depending on your location and whether you get a discount.

What Makes YMCA So Expensive?

YMCA Membership cost

After looking at the prices above, one might wonder why a nonprofitable organization charges so much. Here are some of the main reasons.

Competent Staff

To maintain its reputation, the YMCA has to employ competent staff to cater to customers’ needs. 

Although part of the staff are partial volunteers and earn minimum wage, some staff members have to be paid lucrative salaries.

For instance, swimming instructors and gym trainers are not cheap to employ. Additionally, to work at the Y, these staff members must be trained adequately.

They have to be courteous, have good customer service skills, and be experts in their fields. Of course, hiring and maintaining such skilled individuals is not cheap. These costs are passed down to the customers.

Community Outreach Programs

Being a charitable organization, the Y is very involved in community development programs. Community outreach includes anything from free training for kids, feeding the homeless, or even building shelters. 

The Y also gets involved in community projects such as fundraisers, medical camps, and recently, pride rallies.

In fact, a sizeable portion of membership fees goes back into the community. Therefore, most people are happy to pay higher membership fees at the Y, knowing that the extra money will go to charity.


As we discovered earlier, YMCA membership costs might vary depending on your location. In some areas, it’s more expensive than regular gym memberships while it’s a great deal in others.

YMCA memberships will be more expensive in areas where the locals have high incomes and lower in less wealthy locations. These fees are also affected by the quality of the YMCA’s facilities.

Wide Range of Programs

The Y is not just an ordinary gym where you go to lift weights and then go home. It offers a wide range of classes throughout the week, ranging from fitness to general wellness. These classes cut across all ages, so there’s something for everyone.

A YMCA membership also gives you access to the virtual YMCA program, which helps you work out from the comfort of your home.

Operational Costs

Although the Y is a nonprofit organization, it doesn’t get a lot of help from the government. It gets a grant now and then but that’s basically it. 

Therefore, they have to charge high fees to keep up with their massive operational costs which keep rising with the cost of living. These costs include:

Maintaining a Swimming Pool

Apart from gyms, most YMCAs also have swimming pools. These pools are difficult to maintain because they are always full of people. Therefore, they need more chemicals and more frequent treatment.

Since most YMCA members will use the pool at some point during their membership, pool fees are included in their monthly fees. Membership also allows you to use pools in other YMCAs outside your region.

Maintaining Buildings and Facilities

Just like any other business, the Y pays for overhead costs. Grounds and buildings require maintenance. Members also need air conditioning, water, electricity, and functional gym equipment.

YMCA also needs to pay for insurance and other legal requirements. Funds to pay for these needs are sourced from membership fees.

Child Care Costs

Most YMCAs also offer child care services to members while they work out. Their kid zone program takes care of your 6 weeks to 12-year-old child while you enjoy the rest of the amenities.

Since this is included in the family package, the costs of child care are added to the membership fees.

How Much Does It Cost to Go to the YMCA Without a Membership?

If you’re not a YMCA member, you can attend the facility as a guest. Local guests can enjoy two complimentary visits every calendar year but additional visits will require you to buy a guest pass.

A YMCA guest pass costs $10 a day or $25 a week for adults. Family passes cost $15 a day or $40 a week.

Can You Get a Free YMCA Membership?

If you’re unable to meet the costs of a YMCA membership, you can apply for financial assistance for programs. 

These programs are available to households meeting a set income guideline. They assist in paying for YMCA services such as childcare, camp, swim lessons, and sports leagues.

How to Get a Discount on YMCA Membership

There are dozens of ways to get a discount on YMCA memberships. Here are some of the main ones:

  • Income-based memberships: These memberships offer discounts to low-income families that meet set requirements.
  • Active duty military memberships: These memberships are available to eligible military personnel and families.
  • Public safety and veteran discounts: These discounts are available to public safety officers including firefighters, police officers, EMTs, and war veterans.
  • Healthcare reimbursements: Many healthcare insurance packages also cover partial or full YMCA memberships.

Is YMCA Membership Worth It?

A YMCA membership is definitely worth it. Apart from a gym, you also get access to countless classes, facilities such as pools, and a chance to give back to your community.

YMCA Alternatives

There are many YMCA alternatives across the country, but they vary depending on your location. This is because there’s no other organization the size of YMCA that offers similar services. 

Therefore, you should check your local gyms and see how the services they offer compared to those at YMCA.

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