Albany YMCA vs. Berkeley YMCA for workout/ childcare

Hello, I am equidistant to both the Berkeley and Albany YMCA. I am debating about joining one of them. Albany is about half of the membership fee of Berkeley. I was wondering if anyone has experience with, for example, lifting weights and using the elliptical at these facilities? Are there long wait times or limited equipment? Also, I'm wondering if anyone has any experience using the drop-in childcare at these locations? I would be looking to go 1-3 times per week with my toddler. Thanks!

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We have used the downtown Berkeley Y for childcare and I really like them.  I’ve been using the care there since my daughter was a baby and it’s great.  I love the women’s only floor, and the access to the pools.  The locker rooms are great too!  
The Albany Y doesn’t have towel service which is a pain for me when I’m trying to multitask exercise showering and I forget my towel.

I haven’t used their child watch at Albany, but FYI depending on the day of the week it is either held at the gym or up the street at their other facility, which doesn’t work for my new baby or my toddler as she wouldn’t like to be that far away from (& neither would I).

i guess I prefer the downtown Y!


I can speak for the Albany Y. There isn’t usually a wait to use equipment or weights. The childcare is great. You can use both locations as a member. Your home branch, the one you pay your membership dues to, you should use at least 51% of the time. Feel free to schedule tours at both to see which one you want your home branch to be. You can only bring guests to your home branch. Hope that all helps! 

I've only used the Berkeley YMCA but I've very rarely had any problems with needing to wait for weights or other equipment. I haven't tried the drop off childcare but I hope to when my baby is a little bigger.

Hi, I’ve been going to the Berkeley Y and using child watch for my toddler for about a year and a half. We go weekday mornings.  The caregivers are all really great and the kid’s area is very spacious and plenty stimulating for the kids. I’ve never had to wait for a space for my toddler (though I’ve seen a waitlist for under 2s now and again). I usually exercise in the women’s fitness area and I’ve never had to wait for cardio or strength training equipment (although it’s older equipment compared to the co-ed exercise areas, it works fine). I highly recommend the berk Y because there is also the large kindergym play area. The only issues I’ve run into are parents sending their sick kids to childcare - I’m not sure how strongly they enforce any rules about sick children attending child watch.


I belong to the Albany Y and brought my then 2-3 month-old with me several times during maternity leave. I still bring him now, but less often. My sister brings her 4- and 7-year-olds almost every weekend. ChildWatch (as they call it) is super affordable ($3/hour, I believe) and my baby, niece, and nephew all seem to enjoy it. During the week, they have the kids in a small room on-site so you're always close-by; on the weekends, they have the kids at their bigger site on Solano between Talbot and Cornell, just a block up Solano. My sister has had one of the ChildWatch people babysit her kids too, which is great since they know her.

In terms of the facilities, it's a very small gym, but unless you're going at the usual peak hours, you'll always get the machine you want or just use another one until the one you want opens up, which is quick. The classes and personal training are good too.

I typically have no issues finding parking on a side street. And it's free since it's in Albany.

Hope this helps!


My sessions at the Berkeley Y are once or twice a week, swimming or upstairs weight room There is no waiting. Women come and go from the machine room (elliptical, stairmaster, etc.) which seems to have plenty of empty machines. I just added my grandtwins (five) to my membership and looked in on the child care facilities. i was impressed. Also there are family swim times almost every day.  There is also a room where kids can play while parents watch. There are always lots of little children around, and once a month or so they have "Kids Night OUt."

At the Albany Y, there is rarely a wait for equipment (though it will depend a bit on when you are there and how choosy you are about getting a particular machine), and everyone is pretty low-key.

I didn't realize that weekend child care they sent kids up the street (babies, too?) Weekdays, the child watch services while the parent works are definitely in a small room on site at the gym.  It does seem to be a pretty small room, but I don't think there are often many kids there at a time (I guess on weekdays, most of them are at school or child care). Which days will you be there?  Do you have another adult at home to watch the kid on weekends? Child watch isn't offered at all times the gym is open, so check the hours and consider when you expect to be there.  It's been years since I used it, so I can't comment specifically on the quality.

If you are female, you should know that unlike Berkeley, Albany doesn't  have a women-only workout area, if that is important to you (though as I said, people at the Albany Y seem pretty low-key, and as a woman, I've never felt uncomfortable working out there in a co-ed environment).

Parking is MUCH easier at Albany, (if you will be driving).

I love that I can use any Y in the area without an extra fee (though I think you have to complete a waiver form).

The towel issue hasn't been a problem for me since I just go home to shower, but again, consider how you plan to use the facility.

I went to the Berkeley Y for many years, and the first few years after becoming a parent. Then realized the Albany Y was much closer to my house, and switched to that as my home Y about 5 years ago. We now go regularly on Saturday and my kids go to the childwatch down the street (but in the same building as the yoga classes on weekends). It really just depends on what's more convenient for you personally, because that will get you there. Parking is easier in Albany for sure, except maybe at Cornell School pickup time. I now go to the Berkeley Y maybe once a month, because one of my kids really likes the big-kid childwatch there, because it has foosball and a wii. The other one hates it, because the helpers aren't very warm, unlike her favorite at the Albany Y childwatch. Personal preference.