Without taking a single day off since the pandemic crisis began last spring, the Missoula Family YMCA is giving its employees a few days off.

Executive Director Heather Foster explains.

“We're doing something very different than we've ever done before,” said Foster. “We are actually closing our doors and we are not offering services here on our campus or any of our school-age programs. So it's very, very different and I think we're kind of leaning in a little to our social responsibility, and also, we really want to give our staff a break.”

Foster praised her staff for soldiering on and providing services throughout the pandemic.

“I think the pandemic has been very hard on everybody, but we're an organization that never really shut down,” she said. “Between emergency childcare and doing a bunch of work internally in our facility while we were in the full statewide shutdown, and now we've rolled into hybrid school support and are doing things like online exercise classes, and we've just continued to ask our staff to innovate and to adapt and change to try to serve the community and, and they really, really could use the break.”

Foster said regular services will continue after the Thanksgiving break as they continue to abide by CDC and the Missoula County Health Department guidelines.

“All systems are go,” she said. “We are obviously operating under the new health department guidelines, so we're at 50% capacity for every space in our buildings. Our pool is open. We're offering all of the same group exercise classes, spin classes just with a lot smaller class size. So, you know, it feels a little bit like a lot of personal training going on around here.”

Foster said the ‘Y’ is also offering a program called the Iron Will Triathlon.

“It's essentially a month long triathlon,” she said. “You have the entire month to do a full triathlon. What's required is biking and swimming. You can either swim or you could use something like a rowing machine and then run. It's a really good excuse to do all three of those things and diversify your exercise for the month.”

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