The multiple YMCA locations in metropolitan Chattanooga serve more than 37,000 members a year and fulfill the mission of uniting guests regardless of gender, age, faith, background, abilities, or income. Founded in London in 1844, the YMCA spread to its Chattanooga home in 1871 and continues to operate with help from local community volunteers as stalwart as I Love Lucy syndicators. Each location caters to the needs of children, teens, seniors, and families with afterschool programs and fitness-based activities. Cardio machines pump hearts, racquetball courts host fun competitions, and pools allow goggles to fulfill their original purpose: snapping the face with their elastic band to make a diver jump off the blocks faster. A sauna and steam room heat clients up after they cool down in the pools, and parents can drop their young children off at the nursery before participating in group fitness classes.
Across the colorful mats of God's Warriors TKD, students follow along with instructors on their journey toward mastering the disciplined motions of Tae Kwon Do. Groups gather during classes, where teachers work with students individually to help hone in on form, strengths, and Jackie Chan's signature parade wave. Students train hard, regularly gaining new belt rankings and traveling to national and state competitions to show off their skills in sparring and traditional and creative forms.