Downtown Oakland YMCA

Operated By:
All Ages
125 participants
Editors' Notes:

Positive, fun activities that build physical and social skills that encourage a lifetime appreciation for active living are at the heart of our Y. We are proud to serve our community with programming at Downtown Oakland. Our programs include: day camp, sports, dance classes, and teen leadership.

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • hi! I am considering starting my 1.5 year old for swim lessons at the Oakland YMCA.  Goal is to get him comfortable in water before starting "real" lessons when he's older.  I've looked at Aquatech and Oakland YMCA seems to be much more reasonably priced.  Has anyone had any recent experience with their Group (not private) parent/child lessons for the 6-months - 2 year old age group?  thanks!

    Hi! We've been taking our almost 11 months old baby to the Oakland YMCA since a few months and he's loving it! We will start new classes in February. The instructors are welcoming and the classes have a good length of about 30mins. I would definitely recommend the Oakland Y!

    I had my kid at the Oakland YMCA for one class when she was a baby and it was so-so. We enjoyed the classes at the Berkeley Y much better- and the pool's warm! Where we really found a permanent place to land (although we're currently taking a break) is Ohana Swim School (used to be called Tim Oliver's Swimming). It's not cheap but it's worth a look. If it's convenient to your home/work, then it might be the best bet. And there's FREE and EASY parking, which I always appreciate. Good luck!

  • Has anyone had recent experience with the downtown Oakland YMCA childwatch for infants (2 months +)? Would love to be able to get back to the gym!

    I'm not sure they take infants quite that young, I seem to remember it being 3 or 6 mos. Admittedly it's been awhile - our son is 5 yrs old - but we utilized the DTO Y Child Watch as soon as we could. He loved it, and still does - the staff is great!

    We’ve gone frequently over the last few years. It’s cheap and they’ll watch your kid while you work out so it has been a godsend to my mental and physical health. That said, my experiences have ranged from terrible to good. The providers are a mixed bag and it’s hard to know who you will get. They’re often late or seem unsupported so sometimes there will be like 10 small kids with one adult. They use screens more than I would like and I’ll find my kids watching some cartoon. They’ll call me to pick up early because they can’t manage my kids (age appropriate) behavior. I can’t say it’s quality child care. But my kids seem relatively safe and happy and it makes a huge difference to me to be able to use it.  

    An addition to my previous response- if you can go weekday mornings it’s usually pretty chill and there’s a lovely woman usually there named josefina who seems to be experience and competent with infants 

  • Oakland YMCA Parking

    Feb 12, 2019

    As part of my new year's resolution for self-care, and because my last one finally entered school (yay for some extra $), I've joined the Y in downtown Oakland.  I'm super excited about all the classes there and have been going regularly.  But I just cannot fathom the parking around there.  What is the deal?  Where do people who go to the Y park? Is there free/cheap parking nearby?  I try to go after work hours, basically after 5pm, so that I won't have to deal with meters (well, after 6pm), but it's still impossible.  Any ideas?  (Re public transit: Folks, I don't have the option of going by public transit for many reasons, including work-commute, home location relative to Y, work, time. If that were an option, I wouldn't be asking.)

    I toured the Oakland Y recently and they told me members can park in the building garage for a very cheap rate. I can’t remember what is was exactly but something like one dollar for two hours. Ask the front desk about it. 

    I work one block away. There is no parking because they have closed 7 lots to build apartments in the last 3 years and Kaiser Permanente HQ still employs thousands in the 5 block radius. I pay $165/mo to park and have many coworkers who park at meters and extend with the app because $2/hr is less than $20/day at most lots. You are not going to find street parking on weekdays before 7pm. Do not bother. The YMCA typically validates their own ACE parking ramp - it used to be $1/hr up to 3 hours. That's less than a meter at $2/hr (which goes until 6pm FYI). Use the validated parking. Or hope to get lucky and get a meter that has time left on it but I doubt that's going to happen.

    Our family just joined and the parking garage attached works great - if you have the Y validate your parking, it's greatly discounted ($1 for 2hrs). Plus it's literally right next door - after the current remodel, members will be able to get into the lot from insu inside the Y. If/when you sign up, they'll cover all this. Best of luck!

Parent Reviews

Parents, please Sign in to post a review on this page.

There is parking in a garage for members at the Oakland Y. Just call them and ask if you want more info. They are great! We took our son there for swimming lessons in the fall and the staff is so helpful and there are women of all shapes and sizes in the locker room and hot tub. 

Not sure if you are aware of this but the Oakland Y has an attached parking garage that is super easy. It does cost $3 an hour, but that’s commensurate with nearby street parking. I love the Y for many reasons, including the one you’re talking about.


First I would say it's never too late! There are numerous stories of college and NBA players who came up as baseball, football or soccer kids. This might seem obvious but have you looked into the Y? Oakland and Berekley YMCA both have ongoing youth basketball teams. My son played for the Oakland Y team when he was 12 -13. Some of the coaches are really good - some not so good, but It might be worth checking out. Well worth the membership fee I think, plus he might start getting into weight training or other fun activities.

Infant Swim Lessons (Feb 20, 2018)

We go the Oakland YMCA on Broadway and it's been great.  Once a week, 30 minutes, other parents and kids - our child has gotten comfortable in water and loves seeing other kids, too!

Infant Swim Lessons (Feb 20, 2018)

We've had good experiences with the Oakland YMCA! It's a little unclear whether 3 or 6 months is the cutoff (the form says one thing; the staff says another -- we started our daughter a little before 6 months). The classes are low-key, the staff is very nice, the water is nice and warm, and (at least for members) it's reasonably priced. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Joining the Oakland YMCA

Sept 2002

I am seriously thinking about joining the Oakland YMCA. My main reason is to get my 2.5-year-old into swim classes, which I enjoyed as a child and I think he'll enjoy them. At a tour on Friday, 9/13, though, I found the Oakland Y had even more to offer than I had thought. Plus, they're having a special where, if you join by 10/31, you get a huge list of discounts & free things. If you're a current member, what do you think of the Oakland Y? The childcare situation seems good. Any feedback on that, esp. for a toddler? What about the Friday 'family nights'? Anyone considering joining soon? Also, I'd love a workout partner or just a friendly face, someone to know as I visit the Y. Thanks! Jennie

Hi, We have been members of the Oakland Y since our son (now 22 months) was 3 months old. It's not glamorous, but I like the Y, and work out there about twice a week. Our son likes the childcare (usually two adult women work in the mornings and some afternoons and more teenage types work most afternoons and Saturdays), especially ''Pin'' who works weekday mornings. The childcare is never too crowded. My husband has been taking our son to the Y swim classes on Sat. mornings for 16 months. ''Water appreciation'' is a more apt name for what they do in class, but our son loves the water and has had a lot of success on vacations in pools and in the ocean, so we credit the swim classes for that. The Y has some good aerobic and Pilates classes and a ''kindergym'' on Saturday mornings for toddlers (basically, it's one of the raquetball rooms outfitted with padded equipment and slides for crawling and tumbling). I think it's a good value and our son enjoys it too! Laura

My husband has been a member of the Oakland Y for a couple of years. Automatically, our kids are members too. Though I am not a member, I take the kids there. Our whole family enjoys the Y very much. The children's classes are very good. The facility is comparable to a high end private club. They have special programs throughout the year, too. The Friday family nights are fun, especially if you have friends who are also members. The childcare is a good value and they have Saturday morning programs for school age children. I highly recommend it. Naomi

Hi, We belong to the downtown Oakland YMCA (Broadway and Grand). The family membership is about $100 and the initiation fee is reasonable, I think. If you're a Kaiser member (which I am), it's really cheap--$35, I think. They have a moderately sized weight room with free weights and machines--I used to belong to Club One in City Center, and the Club One facilities are a lot better, but it was getting to be too expensive. The Y has daycare ($1/hour, or something like that) that is quite good, and spinning classes (can't vouch for them). Good luck! Michael

Childcare at the Oakland YMCA

Oct 2006

The messages on this topic on the website aren't recent. I wanted to find out from parents of infants who are using the Oakland YMCA childwatch and/or the Berkeley YMCA childwatch what their experience has been. I have a 4 month old and have been thinking about joining. What have you liked/disliked? In particular, how have you seen staff respond to babies who are crying or experiencing separation anxiety? Can someone explain the role of volunteers in the childwatch and whether that's at both Oakland and Berkeley. Thanks in advance Julie

We are members of the OAKLAND YMCA and love it there, so we thought for sure we'd leave our baby there while we exercised. But, after watching the women who ''take care'' of the babies/children in their child care center, I was not happy about the level of attention being given. There are 2 doors to the childcare center. Sometimes they leave the door open on the side where people enter the YMCA. Usually, there is only one person in the room and that person does not seem to keep any kind of close watch on the kids (she actually looks like she's catching up on paperwork). I have seen them call parents on the loudspeaker when children cry. The care is very cheap (I think $2 an hour), but in this case, it seems you get what you pay for. Very disappointed Y user

I used to bring my toddler to the Oakland Y for evening childwatch but I took him out because the lady who handles it in the evenings is very short-tempered and he was never happy there. A lot of parents like her, but I was not pleased with her cranky attitude and the way she was always telling the older kids ''stop it!'' ''sit down!'' ''cut that out!'' anonymous Y member

Nov 2003

Re: Gym with Infant Care

My friend was very happy with the child care at the Oakland YMCA on Broadway. Rebecca

Swimming Lessons

Re: Racially mixed swim club around Oakland (Sept 2004)
Have you tried the Oakland Downtown YMCA on Broadway (between 23rd & 24th). They have great swim classes and have a very diverse group of kids, adults, etc. Hope this is helpful

Re: Swim Lessons for 6-y-o in Oakland (Apr 2004)
The Oakland YMCA in downtown Oakland has a huge pool and lots of different swim lessons for different ages of children. Love to swim

Re: Swim class for 6-month-old (Nov 2002)
I took my six month old son Bradley to the Oakland Y for a few lessons. The goal at this age is to get them comfortable in the water. The teacher advised that kids will become proficient swimmers by the age of 3 if you actively work with them. The American Assoc. of Pediatrics recommends against swim lessons for infants. Appears their are differing points of view about making the kids too comfortable around water without the supporting skill set to ensure their safety. Laura

Re: Swim class for 6-month-old (Nov 2002)
The Oakland YMCA has ''Skip'' swim classes for 6 months to 36 months. The next session is October 21 - November 23. The classes are either twice a week or once a week on Saturdays. They are $18 for once a week or $36 for twice a week classes; for non-members (you pay a $35 annual fee & are excluded from general use of the facilities) it's $27 or $54. Unfortunately, I can't direct you to a website; last I looked, they had *very* little info online. You can get a tour by just dropping by, though! Please drop me a line if you do sign up; I think we'll be in the next class and would love a 'swim class partner.' Jennie

Re: Swim Lessons for a 1st grader (April 2003)
The Downtown Oakland YMCA has classes that fit your requirements. It looks like your son would be a Polliwog, and there are several classes offered on Saturdays from 9:35 till after 12. The next session starts soon. You can pay a yearly facility fee to be able to just sign up for swim lessons. Happy Y member

From: Linda

My son takes lessons at the Oakland Y, which has an ongoing program. The lessons are good. Once or twice a week. You have to join for $35, and the lessons are $37.50 for twice a week. All sorts of different times. Parking is not bad. The Y is at 23d and Broadway, easy to get to. Parents watch from a window above the pool.