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A Kinder, Gentler Way to Whip Mom Into Shape

05/16/2014 03:12 pm ET | Updated Jul 16, 2014

"Send Mom to the Y this weekend!"

I had to read the website's headline twice, so certain was I that this was some sort of cruel Mother's Day joke. SEND Mom to the Y? What exactly did mom do wrong that necessitated shipping her off to the YMCA, an institution synonymous with swim lessons, summer day camps and fitness equipment? I'm going to go out on a limb and say most moms already know how to swim. Furthermore, they would look out-of-place sitting at an arts and crafts class on a sultry July morning with campers one-fifth their age. So that leaves only one reason why Mom should be banished on a day created exclusively for her.

Mom needs to get in shape.

The website belonged to the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee, which was running a Mother's Day weekend special. For three days moms could try the facility for free. It sounded like a great marketing campaign -- and a way to increase membership at an organization that serves as an economical alternative to pricey, 24-hour fitness clubs featuring smoothie bars, nail technicians and personal trainers named Rico.

Still, I couldn't get over the "send" verbiage. Sure, there are places Mom would love to be sent on Mother's Day; Maui comes to mind. But the Y? The Y reeks of chlorine. Depending on which direction you're facing, it may also reek of body odor. That sounds like something that would rank neither high nor low on any mom's list of getaway destinations.

Twenty-four hours after reading the headline, I called up the site again, looking for the phone number. I planned to call the establishment and take them to task for their insensitivity. How dare they hint that Mom needed a tune-up, so to speak.

Instead, I gasped. "Send Mom to the Y" was gone. In its place: "Mother's Day Weekend Special. Jumping for Joy is Great Cardio!" And a supportive sentence: "That means three days of free Zumba, pools, hot tubs, indoor tracks, and more -- even the join fee is free! The question is: are you?"

Now THAT sounded enticing. Hot tubs! Pools! Maybe even Rico would drop by. And all at a 100 percent discount. What mom could resist?

Did the YMCA's marketing team come to its senses? Or was this the work of a shady, underground network of hacker moms? If such an organization exists, I would like to write the biopic. Angelina Jolie will star.

Did I imagine the previous headline? Certain that I didn't, I googled, "Send Mom to the Y." No results for the Metropolitan Milwaukee YMCA, although Google did suggest I check out, "My Mom is going to send me to a private detention center on Monday."

Desperate to solve the mystery, I called the establishment and inquired whether the headline ever existed and whether it would return. Tim Kobussen, Group Vice President of Marketing, confirmed it was online for a day but was gone forever.

"I didn't dislike the headline," he said. "But I thought the other one would resonate better. We're trying to accelerate the fact that we are celebrating mom all weekend, not just Sunday."

I concurred. Mom is the toughest job in America; tougher than youth soccer referee. They need pampering, not a kick in the rear. Kobussen said the feedback for the weekend-long promotion was positive. So positive that his department is now tossing around the idea of a similar invite next month for Father's Day. The challenge will be great, he said, because Milwaukee residents aren't prone to exercising inside during the brief Midwest summer.

Of course, a good headline may prove irresistible. May I suggest the following:

"Dads, the Y is free this weekend!

And so is the beer!"

Copyright 2014 Greg Schwem distributed by Tribune Content Services, Inc.