wikiHow to Become a Member of the YMCA

Three Methods:Applying for a YMCA MembershipApplying for Additional ProgramsApplying for Financial Assistance

The YMCA offers a wide variety of services to its members at hundreds of centers across the United States. YMCA members have access to state-of-the-art fitness equipment, a broad range of wellness programs, and licensed child-care services. Most YMCAs offer flexible membership plans, including reduced fees for low-income participants.

Method 1
Applying for a YMCA Membership

  1. Image titled Become a Member of the YMCA Step 1
    Visit your local YMCA and see if its facilities will meet your needs. YMCA staff take prospective members on guided tours of the site and can answer all membership questions. Services vary from one facility to another, so be sure to ask about programs of special interest to you.
  2. Image titled Become a Member of the YMCA Step 2
    Decide what membership plan is best for you.[1] The YMCA provides flexible membership terms for adults, seniors, and families. Members can upgrade or cancel their plan at any time and also enjoy drop-in privileges with on-site fitness classes.
    • Full fitness centers with free weights, exercise machines, and the use of stationary bikes, treadmills and stair-steppers are included in all membership plans.
    • Additional amenities include all-day pool access, with the option of swimming lessons, use of the gymnasium, and other activity courts.
    • For members with children, day-care plans, including before (and after) school programs, are available at the YMCA.
    • Specialty programs ranging from CPR instruction to classes on nutrition and emotional well-being are also available at the YMCA. Drop-in privileges allow members to participate in special activities at designated times.
  3. Image titled Become a Member of the YMCA Step 3
    Compare and contrast the benefits that come with each membership plans.[2] Enroll in a basic plan and get access to most of your local YMCA facilities. This is the most commonly chosen membership plan.
    • Gym members that fall underneath the youth membership category (6-17), the young adult category (18-25) and the adult membership category (26-64) have use of all the facilities and are granted membership rates for appropriate programs.[3]
    • A family/household is considered two adults (26-64) with or without dependent children under the age of 25 that live together in one household. With one adult membership, two more adults can be included in the membership for an additional $10 per person.[4]
    • Other membership categories include single-parent family and senior citizens (ages 65 and up).
  4. Image titled Become a Member of the YMCA Step 4
    Fill out an Application for YMCA Membership. Standard applications include completing a membership application, a PAR-Q (physical activity readiness questionnaire for ages 15-69), a liability waiver, a member engagement survey, and a monthly payment form (either for a credit card or a checking account).[5]
    • Photographs will be taken of members at the time of application and fee payment. If you submit your application and fee electronically, pictures will be taken on the first visit.[6]
    • When you first enroll, bring a valid picture ID and a voided check to set up an automatic monthly bank draft.
  5. Image titled Become a Member of the YMCA Step 5
    Pay your membership fee.[7] After you've decided on what membership level is best for you, you can pay your YMCA dues and start using the facilities. There is no contract. All new members must pay a sign-up fee in addition to monthly dues.
    • YMCA dues can vary but are similar at most locations. Fees are based on the member's age and membership group: young adult (14-28), adult (29-64), senior (65 and older), adult with dependent children, and husband and wife with children.
    • For youth (0-12), rates range between $15-$25. For young adults (18-25), rates range between $30-$55. For adults (26-60), rates range between $55-$70. For seniors (60+), rates range between $50-$55.[8]

Method 2
Applying for Additional Programs

  1. Image titled Become a Member of the YMCA Step 6
    Upgrade your basic YMCA membership plan to enhance your time there. Membership Plus provides all the services of the basic plan but affords access to all facilities, for about $20 more each month. At most YMCAs, these upgrades can include whirlpool/sauna privileges, private lockers, towel service, private exercise areas, and lounges.[9]
  2. Image titled Become a Member of the YMCA Step 7
    Ask about additional plan options at your local YMCA. Many have agreements with neighboring YMCAs, allowing members to use their facilities at no extra cost. This can be convenient for people who live and work in two different counties or on opposite sides of town.
  3. Image titled Become a Member of the YMCA Step 8
    Weigh your financial needs and examine how best to incorporate YMCA. A lot of people want to live an active life, but find that a gym is too expensive to allow them to factor in exercise for a healthier lifestyle.[10] YMCA offers programs to help address financial concerns of some of its target members.
    • Membership for All is a program you can qualify for if your household income is less than $60,000 per year. It means that your joining fee is cut in half. Bring a copy of your last tax return to your local YMCA and fill out the application.[11]
    • Financial Assistance is a program for low-income people who can qualify for monthly membership aid. Household income must be less than $63,000. Individual income must be less than $38,000. Qualifying members will need a copy of the previous year’s tax return, two copies of your most recent pay stub, and/or a copy of your social security/disability check.[12]

Method 3
Applying for Financial Assistance

  1. Image titled Become a Member of the YMCA Step 9
    Obtain membership and full access to the facility by applying for assistance. If you want to join a local YMCA, but find that it is difficult to include the one time initiation fee and/or monthly initiation fee required for membership, consider applying for financial assistance. The assistance is available on a need basis to individuals, family, and kids.[13]
  2. Image titled Become a Member of the YMCA Step 10
    Find a financial assistance application. You can pick up a physical copy of the application from the YMCA center or download and fill out an electronic application as a PDF file. Access the YMCA website you need by going through the main site at[14]
    • Click the clickable link that routes you to finding your local YMCA. On the next page, enter your city, state, or zip code information.
    • From that list, pick the YMCA that is closest to you. On most sites, regardless of the city, the financial assistance application will be underneath the membership/join header.
  3. Image titled Become a Member of the YMCA Step 11
    Complete the financial assistance application.[15] Fill out the contact information, contact status, and list the members of your household. Underneath your current status, check off whether or not you are a returning YMCA financial assistance recipient looking to renew or if you are requesting financial assistance.
    • If it’s your first time requesting financial assistance, specify what you’re requesting financial assistance for. The membership or program will be adult membership, early childhood, family membership, after school, youth membership, or day camp.
    • Include the cost of the membership or program as well, so that the Annual Campaign will know how much assistance you will need.
    • Be as descriptive as possible when you communicate why you have needs for financial assistance. Mention the other forms of financial assistance you receive (SSI, food stamps, or Medicaid).
    • Attach a copy of your most recent IRS 1040 federal tax return form as evidence to further support your need.[16]


  • Once you enroll at the YMCA, you'll have to present your membership card each time you enter the facility.
  • Be prepared to pay a one-time fee of around $100 and anywhere between $40-$70 depending on membership categories and location.
  • To make your gym membership more affordable, exhaust all of your options as far as applying for programs you’re eligible for.
  • Some YMCAs extend other programs as well, like the Foster Child Membership which provides free memberships to all foster children as of March 1, 2015.

Things You'll Need

  • Driver's license or other picture ID
  • Voided check
  • 1040 federal tax return form
  • Pay stubs

Article Info

Categories: Sports and Fitness