Women's Night at The Y

Last updated: March 22, 2023, at 5:02 a.m. PT

Originally published: March 15, 2018, at 11:30 a.m. PT

Within the first few years of opening its doors (1884) the YMCA, dedicated to employing and supporting young men, experimented with offering access to female swimmers. Limited to two hours a week, this was short lived. It wasn't until 1930 when the burdens of the Great Depression weighed heavy on the community, was access to swimming and classes made available to girls and women on a regular basis.

In 1946 Seattle YMCA was making steady progress toward integrating its membership, with the support of the National Council of the YMCA to eliminate racial discrimination. By 1970, equal access to all programs was available. Today (2018), five of the seven YMCA Senior Leadership Team members are female and represent a wide range of diversity.

As the role of women in the YMCA, and the country, has evolved we continue to grow programs and services to support and encourage women. Many women still have limited to access to the nutrition and exercise crucial to their health. This is even more true for women seeking culturally appropriate spaces.

In research, conducted by Adina Batnitsky, shows that Muslim women have 14% higher rates of obesity than men because they rarely have access to culturally appropriate spaces for exercise. Nadine Abu-Jubara, President, and Founder of Nadoona a Muslim women’s fitness company says “Without a healthy body you cannot do any of those things. Without a healthy body you cannot properly pray, without a healthy body you cannot do Hajj, without a healthy body you cannot effectively fast. Health is a foundational concept for all of the worship within Islam.”

With the support of local community leaders, the YMCA of Greater Seattle is tackling this challenge. The Northshore and Matt Griffin YMCAs were the first in Seattle to create Women's Only programs. Women's Night is now offered weekly at 5 locations on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Open to all women, featuring swimming lessons, group exercise, and self-defense.