Grand Traverse Bay YMCA wants everyone to have access to its Traverse City gyms, pools and fitness facilities, so the Northern Michigan nonprofit offers almost $200,000 in financial assistance each year.

Staying active during winter is essential to leading a healthy lifestyle year-round. And for those blistering cold days that we’re oh-so-familiar with in Northern Michigan, it’s nice to have indoor places to be active. Thanks to the Grand Traverse Bay YMCA, we have three locations in Traverse City that allow just that—Central (at the Civic Center), South (at Logans Landing) and West (on Silver Lake Road).

The Grand Traverse Bay YMCA wants everyone to have access to its facilities and programs. So much so, in fact, they offer financial assistance for memberships and other programs.

Financial aid is offered discreetly and confidentially to members at the YMCA. An application is available online through the YMCA website via the Membership tab at (From the dropdown options, click “Membership,” “Join Now” followed by “Financial Assistance.”) You can apply online, with instructions that will assist you along the way.

“We provide more than $185,000 in financial assistance each year and it’s not just for membership,” says Liz Bloom, Senior Director of Membership and Wellness Services at Grand Traverse Bay YMCA. “We also provide financial assistance for child care and summer camp.

“We believe every person deserves the opportunity to be happy, healthy and part of a supportive community. Our financial assistance program is one way we help facilitate that.”

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There are two levels of access depending on how a member wants to utilize YMCA facilities. You can purchase a membership for just one location or all three. “We have some members who only want to swim at Central or some members who simply want to play pickleball at South—in that case, a membership to just that facility makes sense,” Liz explains.

“Every facility is great for different reasons,” she continues. “Central has a newly remodeled salt-water pool and great fitness area. South is where we love to play pickleball—staff will have tournaments together and we always end up laughing and having a fun time. West is popular for its group fitness classes, larger fitness center, basketball courts to shoot hoops and tennis courts for some fast-paced Pop Tennis games. You’ll most often find me at West for my morning workouts because my office is located in that facility, but I certainly love activities at all three locations.”

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Still need an extra push to get active this winter? Memberships at the Y feature a complimentary “Smart Start Coaching” program to help kick-start your fitness journey. Consisting of three free sessions, new members are matched with a fitness coach. “We’ll walk you through how to use cardio equipment, how to use free weights, how to get involved in our free group exercise classes and we’ll even develop short-term plans for you to adhere to between sessions,” Bloom says.

“And there are other perks too,” she shares, “like being greeted by name every time you visit, member appreciation events and free Higher Grounds coffee. There are a lot of great reasons to be a member at the Y, but the best of all is the community you form.”

YMCA Memberships

A membership at the Y is accompanied by a series of programs and perks. Here are three you may not be aware of.

  • A membership at West actually gives you access to all three Y facilities in the region.
  • West has a free child care program for children under the age of 7 (for up to two hours) while you’re participating in activities at the Y.
  • A membership gives you steep discounts to the Y’s most popular activities, including access to member-only programming like Snow Day camps and Swim Team. Plus you’ll receive first registration rights for Summer Camp.