If you're looking to join your local YMCA, now would be a good time.
Throughout the Tampa Metropolitan area, including the Westpark Village YMCA Express and Northwest Hillsborough YMCA , the Y is offering its "January Joins" program that allows you to try the Y for free throughout this month. This includes all members of your immediate family.
If you like what the Y has to offer you can join for free by Jan. 31. No contract needs to be signed, and by the Y waiving the fee participants save the $49 it normally costs for a family to join.
After joining, the average monthly fee for a family is approximately $80. The Y works with families, however, using a sliding scale to determine membership fees for families or individuals on a case-by-case basis.
"When people are out of jobs, struggling to make ends meet or dealing with the death of a spouse, they need, more than ever, to be part of a community that cares about them and their families, cares about their health and can help them regain their confidence," said Becky Bray, communications director for the Tampa Y's.
Those points, plus the annual New Year's resolution of so many to lose weight, spurred the free month trial, Bray said.
"A lot of people are looking to get healthier in the coming year," she said. "Since we focus on health and well being, we wanted to give people the opportunity to get healthier, join classes and get engaged with people in their community."
It's all part of the Y's rebranding effort, with the focus on healthy living, youth development and social responsibility. Bray noted the Y is one of the largest charitable organizations in the U.S.
Marilyn Carbonell of Town N' Country participates in cardiovascular activities at the Y such as Zumba and Y-Flex classes five days a week. She has been going to Y's in her neighborhood for years, and has been a member at the Northwest Hillsborough Family Y the past three-and-a-half years.
She said it's the Y's family atmosphere that brings her back.
"I can work at my own pace, and it's not like a gym where you'll see Barbie dolls and hunky guys showing off,'' said the 57-year-old Carbonell. "There's younger people, older people, and I see the same people in the classes that I take and we all know each other."
Northwest Hillsborough Family Y Senior Program Director Michael Cosentino touched on some of the Y's upcoming and signature programs.
Youth development programs include sports such as basketball, flag football and swimming, as well as a healthy cooking class. Summer camps and after-school programming are also offered. The Y is the largest provider of childcare in the U.S., according to Bray.
In addition to offering swim instructions, the Y has a competitive swim team for ages 5-14 that competes against other Y's, Cosentino said. The pool opens for practice Feb. 1, with meets beginning in March.
A 16-week diabetes prevention class taught by a lifestyle coach on nutrition, physical activity and behavior modification is offered in partnership with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
Starting this month the Y is partnering with the LiveStrong Cancer Survivor program in association with the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The program includes three free months of personal training to cancer survivors.
The SilverSneakers program offers activities for older adults, and a personal trainer offering one-on-one sessions is available for all ages.