While a young, unknown Elvis Presley once packed the Lexington YMCA gym for a mid-1950s concert, the YMCA facilities in Lexington and Thomasville are now known as hubs of healthy fitness, spiritual and social activities.
J. Smith Young YMCA, Lexington
The gym no longer has the bleachers that seated 4,000, but instead offers two full-size courts for basketball and volleyball plus a gymnastics room. And there’s plenty more to the J. Smith Young YMCA, from a 10-lane bowling center to an indoor swimming arena named for Navy Seal Josh Harris, who trained at this Y and was killed in Afghanistan.
A staffed dining facility is used by the community for civic club and other gatherings, as well as weddings and receptions. And the Greater Lexington Ministerial Association provides recorded daily devotionals for the chapel.
Wellness space is divided into a large fitness room with weights, cardio machines and an aerobics area for classes, a separate cardio room where members can escape distractions, and a family workout space. The Y also has racquetball courts.
Although the Y was built in 1949 and last overhauled in 1992, Lexington Y CEO Gene Klump says, “they did it right when they built it.” Of 18,000 Lexington residents, about 5,000 belong to the Y.
“We're sitting right in the middle of the area downtown churches. The Y seems to be the hub of all activity for the town,” says Klump, a former teacher, coach and banker hired in 2011.
The Lexington Y also partners with Wake Forest Baptist and Lexington Medical Center for a Let’s Get Fit program and separate workout room outfitted to help obese children. Other programs include youth athletics, an after-school program and summer camps.
Klump has “story upon story” about how the Y has helped people back to health. For instance, a stroke victim came in a wheelchair but became able to walk on her own; a deputy sheriff struck by a vehicle, who suffered a heart attack and stroke, went from walking only seven-tenths of a mile to 2.6 miles in 45 minutes.
Tom A. Finch Community YMCA, Thomasville
The Thomasville YMCA recently renovated its 7,700-square-foot wellness center, which boasts 30-plus cardio machines, more than 15,000 pounds of free weights and new HDTVs. The Y also added a new upper playground for children ages 2-5.
The 40-acre property has athletic fields for soccer and baseball leagues, picnic shelters, an amphitheater, a 3.5-acre lake, and trails – including a section to Thomasville’s Greenway – for enjoying the outdoors.
Basketball and volleyball are played in the gymnasium, and the modern facility houses a 25-yard indoor heated swimming pool, a chapel, aerobic studios, spacious locker rooms and a five-star child-care center.
“As we are challenging participants and supporting them, we also develop meaningful relationships with them,” CEO Tommy Hodges says, “and this keeps them coming back, which is a key to staying healthy, both physically and spiritually.”