If the recent experience at the YMCA of Austin is any indication, shelter-in-place mandates and social distancing practices are no match for the human drive to form communities. Across metropolitan Austin, new YMCA virtual communities are springing up after the recent call by local, county and state authorities to close facilities and limit gatherings to under 10 people.


Popular Y exercise instructors are leading Facebook Live classes for groups of 100 or more at a time. Y Youth leaders are conducting virtual storytimes, sports clinics and crafting activities for families. Senior groups are organizing “socials” using free teleconferencing services, while Y staff members are calling those older adults who are shut in and isolated just to talk and ensure their well-being.


Meanwhile, Y members are streaming literally thousands of pre-recorded exercise classes in an effort to keep active and relieve the stress and anxiety that comes from an unprecedented situation like that posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.


“The Y is a relationship organization bringing people together – large numbers, from all backgrounds and circumstances creating personal connections,” said James Finck, YMCA of Austin President & CEO. “That doesn’t stop just because we have to close our doors. We’ll mobilize every resource we have to connect with people any way we can.”


A quick sampling of virtual offerings includes:

  • Yoga classes hosted by Y instructor Scott Roskilly
  • Senior exercise class hosted by Renee Deeter
  • Easter Chalk Bunny art activity hosted by Mayra Arredondo
  • Storytime with Suzi Ziegenbein (reading to her donkeys!)
  • Kids’ DIY fitness game led by Matt Dove

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