When people stop to think of the YMCA, one of two things may pop into their head: The first is the catchy jingle from the ‘80s, and the second is being a great, affordable place to work out. For the YMCA of Greater San Antonio, they want to be known for so much more than that.

The organization currently has 13 locations throughout the San Antonio metro and boasts the tagline of “Mind. Body. Spirit.” While the facilities do have features such as lap pools, pilates, yoga classes, indoor basketball courts and outdoor tennis nets, they also offer programs that help nourish other parts of the body.

Most recently, the branch held a grand opening for its Egaming Center at the D. R. Semmes Family YMCA on Sept. 10. Having the center in a place where children are monitored allows them to safely explore the world of online gaming.

“Sometimes kids do it on their own at home, and there can be a lot of strangers they may engage with. The YMCA takes any fears of exploiting youth and makes it safe for all,” said Shannon Gowen, senior director of mission advancement and communications at the Y.

The Y is also anticipating the opening of its pickleball courts at the Thousand Oaks Family YMCA before the end of the year. Once open, along with the existing pickleball courts at the Schertz location, the Y will form a pickleball league for its members and program participants.

The YMCA also has multiple events coming up in the next few months that they are eager to have many members attend. Later in November, the Turkey Trot will be held from 8-10 a.m. on Nov. 19. Those interested can choose from a 10K, 5K, a 1-mile trail walk or a virtual 10K and 5K.

Similarly, the inaugural Reindeer Dash 5k and Rudolph Kids Dash will start at 8 a.m. on Dec. 17 at the Leon Valley Greenway Trails in O.P. Schnabel Park. Anyone interested can also become sponsors of the race if they do not want to run—donations will benefit YMCA programming.

“We're really excited about it, and thrilled to have Mayor Nirenberg on board to kick off the event,” Gowen said.

On the same day, the Y will also be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Westside Toy Drive and Dinner, during which the YMCA works with local school districts and churches to provide gifts to youth and families who need a little extra support. Families will be provided dinner and have the opportunity to pick out gifts to open at the event or to take home.

Finally, during the week of Nov. 7-11, the Y will host its gratitude week. During the week, there will be different types of activities for members and donors to participate in, including a Facebook Live panel conversation happening Nov. 10 at 8:30 a.m. about mental health and the opportunity to create a branch to complete a gratitude tree.

“It's an opportunity for us to thank our members and get to know them a little bit better,” Gowen said. “So many people just see the Y as a fitness center or a swim and gym. People don't understand all the other offerings that we provide. The Y’s mission is to build a healthy ‘Mind, Body, and Spirit.’ We want to ensure that we're taking care of our community in those three areas.”

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