City workers encouraged to put health on agenda at YMCA

Residents can also take part in small group training sessions

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published January 9, 2013

BIRMINGHAM — New Year’s resolutions are going to be a little easier to stick to this year for Birmingham city employees. The city is teaming up with the Birmingham Family YMCA to launch a unique new fitness initiative for city workers.

According to Birmingham YMCA Wellness Director Jerry Jacobs, employees of the city will get the chance to take part in specialized group training sessions throughout the year at a discounted price of $15 per session. Participants can choose from classes geared for weight loss, weight and strength training, or cardiovascular training.

“This will be the first time we’re doing this pilot program,” said Jacobs. “They contacted us about it and thought it would be good to do something along those lines for those employees. It’s, of course, good for New Year’s resolutions and kicking off a new fitness initiative.”

Jacobs worked closely with Assistant City Manager and Human Resources Director Joe Valentine to tailor the program to the needs of Birmingham workers. 

“They customized some of their programs for our employees,” said Valentine. “The specialized sessions designed by the Y nicely complemented what we were doing with our wellness objectives and offered our employees an additional avenue to focus on their health.”

The employees who choose to participate will attend small group training sessions taught by a certified personal trainer once or twice a week, to start. From there, the participants might choose to come more or less often, depending on what they and the trainer decide. Because the program is the first of its kind in the city, Valentine said he’s looking forward to seeing how it evolves.

“I think the reason we’re doing this, No. 1, is for the employees’ own health. It allows them an opportunity to introduce health information and practices within their own life,” said Valentine. “On the city side, it allows us to hopefully reduce our health care costs by having an overall healthy workforce. We view this as a win-win opportunity.”

Jacobs said that, if the program is successful, the YMCA hopes to expand it to other departments in the city, such as police and fire.

“They have their own (workout) facilities in the downtown area, but we’re trying to get in with them to do CrossFit and Suspension Training, or TRX,” he said.

According to Jacobs, Birmingham city employees aren’t the only people who can enjoy a healthy start to their new year. For about $25 a session, members of the Birmingham Family YMCA can also take part in small group training sessions. Jacobs said the group training is often appealing for those who like to be accountable to someone else while setting fitness goals and for people who would like support to get healthy. Families, groups of friends and even bridal parties are ideal for small group training, he said.

For more information on the Birmingham Family YMCA, call (248) 644-9036 or visit The YMCA is located at 400 E. Lincoln St., between Pierce and Woodward.