MONTGOMERY — As the calendar continues its inexorable march into autumn, the action is heating up at the Upper Kanawha Valley YMCA.

A slew of activities is currently being offered to YMCA members and the general public, ranging from water aerobics to free weights to karate. Besides the numerous activities and classes currently available, YMCA officials are also poised to bring other programs into the mix in the future, including swim lessons, kayak classes, air rifle, pickleball and others.

While some uncertainty has existed concerning the YMCA's future in Montgomery, officials say progress has been made and more programs are being added as weeks go by.

"We actually have a lot of programs and things going on right now," said Alexis Virtue, program director. "Little by little, things are starting to come together, which is really nice.

"And I think people are starting to notice that."

The return of students to school — both at the collegiate level and the secondary and primary school levels — will result in more activity around the Neal D. Baisi Athletic Center.

The YMCA is involved in a partnership with BridgeValley CTC, located just down the road, in which full-time students' tuition includes a Y membership. According to Virtue, BridgeValley staff and part-time students who want to sign up can do so as well. "We're hoping to get more of an influx (of people) now that school's starting and it (will be) starting to get colder outside," said Virtue.

Officials have also held or plan to hold discussions with local secondary and primary school administrators to explore the possibility of implementing after-school programs through the YMCA. Also in the works is a program in which at least all second-graders could take swimming lessons. Plans are still being formulated for that outreach, according to Al Dillard, the YMCA's program coordinator.

A community room is being targeted for the facility this fall. With BridgeValley in mind, it will serve as a study lounge/recreational area, and it will feature computers, TVs, X-box, ping-pong and foosball.

According to Dillard, 10 BridgeValley students stopped in to check out the YMCA facility the first day they were in town for the fall term.

An intramural program is planned in the coming months for the students, as well.

"We're reaching out to people ... and letting people know we are open," said Dillard.

The outreach doesn't stop there, however. According to Larry Villarreal, the UKV Y's branch director, the organization has begun partnering with Montgomery General Hospital for aqua therapy during physical therapy every Wednesday, with the hospital bringing their patients to the YMCA.

There has also been a flurry of activity aimed at beefing up the physical infrastructure.

According to Virtue, new rooms are being cleaned out and opened up for activities, including a location to practice archery, which started two weeks ago, and air rifle. In addition, local volunteers Ann and Larry Nunnery have worked with maintenance director Bubby Sizemore to create a Mom & Pop Room. The homey Mom & Pop Room is geared at making the wait easier for parents or grandparents of children participating in a class or program at the YMCA. The room will include a TV and a coffee pot, among other things.

"They painted and they decorated it and it looks gorgeous," said Virtue. "It looks like a little living room area where they can just go and rest and be comfortable."

Among other improvements, speakers have been installed in a multi-purpose area in which yoga is practiced, Bluetooth access has been added in the building, and there is a new sound system in the gymnasium.

Work has also been done at the baseball field at Boomer, which is owned by the YMCA. The primary focus of the baseball field is for use by the local middle school, said Dillard, but the aim is for it to be utilized in other ways, too.

Getting the Boomer field going is "really, really promising," said Villarreal.

In the coming months, the YMCA will have at its disposal a van donated by KRT. The new shuttle bus, according to Villarreal, is handicap-accessible. It will give YMCA officials a little more freedom to travel back and forth to different schools and various areas and transfer members. A schedule will be announced in the future.

Between 150 and 200 people are participating at the YMCA daily, Villarreal said.

YMCA hours are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Classes and programs currently being offered include:

Aqua aerobics — Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 10 to 11 a.m.; and Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 6 to 7 p.m.

Karate — Tuesday and Thursday, 6 to 7:15 p.m. (children's class) and 7:30 to 9 p.m. (adult class)

Chair yoga — Tuesday and Thursday, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.

Dancercise — Monday and Wednesday, 6 to 7 p.m.

ASWV Walking Club — Monday, 5 to 6 p.m.

Girl Scouts — Wednesday, 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Archery — Tuesday, 6 to 8 p.m.

Art classes — Every other Thursday and Friday starting Sept. 19-20, 7 to 9 p.m.

For more information on any of the upcoming programs or to look into starting or renewing a membership, follow the Upper Kanawha Valley YMCA on Facebook or call 304-981-2515. Virtue can be contacted via email at

• • •

With the YMCA, Montgomery will be the host of a Freedom Festival from Sept. 11-14. During the length of the festival, the YMCA will waive joiners' fees (valued in the $50 to $75 range) for memberships and offer the following events:

Wednesday, Sept. 11

• UKV Creative Arts Group doing demos and artwork on the front lawn

• Free arts and crafts class, 6 p.m.

• Free dancercise class, 6 to 7 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 12

• Cornhole tournament, 5 p.m. Early sign-up is $10 for singles and $20 for doubles. Day of registration will be $15 and $25, respectively. For more information or to enter, contact Al Dillard at, 304-981-2515 or 304-539-2390.

• Free aqua aerobics class taught by Lisa Sodder, 6 to 7 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 13

• Free swim, 3 to 6 p.m.

• Free self-defense course, 5 to 6 p.m.

• Friday the 13th "Dive in" Movie Night, 8 to 10 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 14

• 3-on-3 basketball tournament, 10 a.m. Fee is $10 per player, and there will be four divisions: adult (18-and-over), high school (grades 10-12), middle school (grades 7-9) and elementary (grades 4-6). For more information or to enter, contact Al Dillard at, 304-981-2515 or 304-539-2390.

Proceeds from the cornhole and 3-on-3 events will benefit the YMCA as it continues to offer quality programs in the region.

For more on the YMCA, see next week's issue of The Montgomery Herald.

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