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YMCA launches virtual video programs for online fitness activity

The YMCA of Southeast Texas Port Arthur Branch is moving its multitude of fitness, sports and child activity classes online.

The recreation center’s new CEO, Kevin Pearson, started his first day on the job Monday, days after Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick issued emergency orders shutting down all gyms, dine-in restaurants and non-essential businesses.

The YMCA closed on March 20 in response. A tentative re-opening date is set for April 3, pending changes.

“It’s certainly not the preferred way to jump into a community, but the circumstances are the way they are,” Pearson said. “The second day I rolled into town, everything was shut down, but we are choosing to look on the bright side and take this time to spruce up the facility and keep in contact with our members, even though they can’t come in yet.”

As part of a national YMCA initiative, Pearson launched a series of virtual video programs to the Southeast Texas location, including Y360, MOSSA MOVE and Les Mills.

Classes are free and open to the public.

Y360 focuses on health and fitness offering boot camp, yoga, weightlifting, Tai Chi, boxing, youth soccer drills and exercises for youth sports performance and active older adults.

“We have been filming our instructors in classes with a few students,” Pearson said. “Then we post the videos on YouTube and people can follow along from home. When we open back up, I’d love to hear people say ‘I took Yoga 360, can we have a class like that here?’ It’s a good way to sample things and find out what people want.”

Pearson said the initiative started a couple years ago, but is expanding rapidly due to the digital age and is a great resource during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve been moving through the digital age for quite sometime, and we still want (our members) to connect with the Y, even if they can’t come to the Y physically,” he said.

MOSSA MOVE and Les Mills are also national programs. Both include high-intensity full-body workouts.

“It’s a good way to get people involved in different classes, that’s the No. 1 benefit,” Pearson said. “For the people who like the group experience, but can’t get the group experience this provides them with something, this is a way for them to stay engaged.”

New videos and classes are being added daily.

YMCA Port Arthur instructors are working on uploading their own videos, which will include familiar faces, sports programming and educational resources.

All videos are available on mobile and desktop via Wi-Fi, IOS or Android.

To check out classes, visit ymca360.org.

“We’re moving into that era where people carry a computer in their pocket at all times, and kids, in particular, learn differently right now,” Pearson said. “So to put out different learning material is not only helping the parents, but their children.”

Pearson said although his move was under strained circumstances, he is excited to be a part of the Southeast Texas community and to see what the future holds.

“I see a lot of growth for the community and the YMCA,” he said. “I’m looking forward to building up aquatics, sports, education and to make more opportunities for people, families, kids and adults to experience all the YMCA has to offer.”

At this time, current paid membership dues accrued while the facility is closed will be credited and can be applied toward future program and membership dues or donated to the center.

YMCA of Southeast Texas, located at 6760 9th Ave. in Port Arthur, can be reached at 409-962-6644.