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Free YMCA membership near you.

Free YMCA memberships are available. Low-income families, seniors and others can get a free membership or help paying for one from government or private health insurance plans, the Open Doors Program near them, charities, veteran benefits and many other places. Find how to get a free YMCA membership near you below.

In general, this form of assistance is focused on low-income families, veterans or current military members as well as senior citizens. However, in some cases other people can also keep a free or cheap YMCA membership, such as students from disadvantaged areas and others. Each “Y” offers its own assistance program, so the amount of help provided in your community may vary.

Free YMCA membership from health insurance or the government

Federal government insurance plans, including Medicare, as well as many privately run health insurance companies offer free memberships to the Y. Or the enrollment and monthly fees are heavily reduced – even as much as 80% of the regular price. In general, health insurance companies provide free membership to the YMCA as the centers help people live a healthier, fuller life, which in effect helps not only the person but the insurer as there will ideally be lower future medical costs.

  • UnitedHealthcare: Renew Active is a fitness program that is available with select Medicare Advantage plans. It offers access to participating fitness locations or YMCAs with local and national options.
  • Aetna: This insurance company is owned by CVS, and they offer affordable or free gym membership reimbursements for their group products. These can be used at a YMCA near you. There is also financial help for wellness for seniors or the disabled on  their Medicare Advantage Plans.
  • Humana: Human offers a variety of health and wellness programs, including discounts on YMCA memberships. The specific program you qualify for will depend on your plan.
  • Medicare has free YMCA memberships. The name of the benefit is SilverSneakers. It can help senior citizens, people on social security and anyone on Medicare get free use of a YMCA center near them.




  • Blue Cross Blue Shield: While state specific, most Blue Cross Blue Shield plans offer discounts on YMCA memberships with some states paying 100% of the costs. The specific program you qualify for will depend on your plan and location.
  • Renew Active: Another assistance program often included in certain Medicare plans is Renew Active. This program is similar to SilverSneakers and offers free gym memberships to seniors, which includes access to participating YMCAs near you. Enrollment fees are generally waived as well.
  • Cigna: Cigna offers a variety of wellness programs, including free or discounts on YMCA memberships. There are other health and fitness assistance programs for the entire family.
  • MyActiveHealth: A service run in partnership with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services  (CMS) and insurance companies. MyActiveHealth is a program for people with chronic conditions that offers free or discounted access to YMCA facilities and programs.
  • Free YMCA members from employee benefit programs: It is estimated that thousands of corporations offer free or low-cost gym or YMCA memberships, including Whole Foods, Johnson & Johnson, Google, Ford, Kaiser Permanente, Bank of America, General Motors, Amazon, and others. They generally do this in partnership with the health insurer available to employees, and also check with your HR department or employee handbook.

Other health insurance companies may offer financial assistance, free trial memberships to the YMCA, vouchers, or other forms of support. Or they pay for an YMCA application or joining fees. Often times there will be programs rolled out to employers at a company, in partnership with the health insurance company, to reimburse employees for memberships too. An HR department, medical insurance navigator, senior center or other resources can help people learn more.





Free memberships offered by the YMCA near you

As noted, each location is different in what it may or may not offer. But in general, the YMCA will provide free memberships to low-income families from the following programs.

YMCA free or very cheap memberships are provided from programs known as Open Doors or Healthy Living. These are income-based services.  There is free or discounted access to YMCA facilities and programs for people who meet certain income or health criteria. Depending on the applicant’s income, assets and financial situation, they could get a significant discount or even a completely free membership. Low-income families need to fill out a financial assistance application form and submit the required supporting documents, such as income tax returns or paycheck stubs.

Refer a friend is offered at most YMCA centers. Current members who refer a friend or family member to join the YMCA receive a free month. In general, the friend or family member also receives a 50% discount on their joining fee, with occasional free, temporary trial memberships offered as part of referring a friend. The program is often called Member-Get-a-Member.

Free YMCA membershipThe YMCA offers free membership for families of deployed soldiers and veterans. They also waive fees and give help to active-duty military personnel, public safety officers, medical people and others. Eligible military personnel can submit a DOD Armed Services Membership application to their Military Component Approving Officer.

  • YMCA Military Outreach Initiative is often the name of this program. It is for active-duty military members and veterans. This assistance program offers free or discounted memberships to military personnel and their families. Applicants will need to provide a valid military ID and fill out a specific military membership application.

Community Partnerships with a local YMCA near you are usually available. The non-profit will often partner with local community organizations, Agency on Aging locations and charities to offer free memberships to low-income families and people with no money. The assistance may be offered in partnership with a local food bank or Feeding America to offer memberships as a part of a package deal for low-income families.

YMCA and local community health care centers often partner together. They will provide basic wellness exams, physicals, provide cooking or healthy eating and shopping workshops and more. Often there will be a heavily subsidized or free, temporary membership to the local YMCA as part of this initiatives as well. Find a health care clinic in your community.




There are also usually temporary promotions held by the YMCA for free or discounted membership plans. Like most retailers or service industry places, the YMCA often offers special discounts and promotions around holidays. While these offers are generally for a limited time, they can result in a few months of free membership.

Work or volunteer for a free YMCA membership. A few YMCAs offer a work for your membership program. This will provide volunteers or workers, even part-time ones, with free use of the center. People can volunteer at the YMCA facility near them in exchange for a free membership.

Free YMCA active older adults’ program, including in partnership with senior centers are an option.: Some YMCAs offer programs designed specifically for older adults, including seniors over the age of 60. These might include exercise classes, social events, and even educational workshops. Occasionally, joining one of these programs through a senior center can come with the perk of a free or discounted YMCA membership. Locate a senior center.

Free memberships for teens or scholarships to pay for them are available. Some YMCA locations offer scholarship programs that cover the costs of membership, any joining fees and programs. This is generally for students during the summer months. There will often be applications and maybe even an essay that needs to be completed by the student to apply for a free YMCA membership near them


A YMCA membership can be a life-changing resource, offering not just physical fitness opportunities, classes, a means to socialize but also community support. There are also often childcare, tutoring and educational programs for kids at a YMCA near you. The cost to join can often be a barrier for low-income families to access these valuable services.

As noted, there are assistance programs available from the Y to help people get a free or very affordable membership. The locations vary, and find a center in your area. Whether from an insurance company, the government, your employer, or an income-based YMCA assistance program for low-income families, it is possible to be a member.


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By Jon McNamara











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