Ok, forget about the Village People for just a minute. When is the last time you stepped into a Y? Yes, they have been around since you can even remember….. it’s actually 125 years old. The Y serves more than 10,000 neighborhoods across the United States. It’s mission is to put Judeo-Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all. It is the nation’s leading nonprofit committed to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The Y strives to work side-by-side with it’s neighbors to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has to opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.
This sounds great, right? But you may ask, what is there for me? Having been a member of the Y for many years, I can tell you exactly what is there for you. But first, I need to tell you what isn’t. It’s not the typical “meat market” gym. You don’t get the half naked bodies and the oglers. It’s a family atmosphere with real people of all ages, shapes, sizes and colors. AND it has all of the programs, equipment, instructors, trainers and support that any serious gym offers. The difference at the Y is that the people there CARE. It seems simple but it makes a huge difference. People make friends at the Y. My personal favorites are the group exercise classes. I need peer pressure to get my butt into shape. It motivates me when I see people do things that seem close to impossible. I think if they can do it, so can I, and I push a little harder. The Y has EXCELLENT child care, all kinds of team sports like basketball, dodge ball, & volleyball, swimming, camps, yoga, and educational programs to name only a few of the great opportunities.
But there’s more still…… my personal experience at the Y over the last few years has meant a great deal to me. People that know me have heard me say that going to the Y keeps me sane. I remember one day very vividly. My divorce was nearly final and I wanted to see about setting up an individual membership since I was sure that my soon to be ex-husband had no plans to fund my gym membership in the future. I realized quickly that my budget would not allow for me to continue my membership as I needed to be VERY frugal, at least until I managed to get my house sold. The realization that I wouldn’t be able to keep going there set in and tears came to my eyes right there in the lobby of the Y. Of course I was very embarrassed about sitting there crying in front of this total stranger and apologized and started to leave. The staff member took my hand and said to wait just a minute. There were programs to help people like me. Then she told me about the scholarship programs that the Y offers. I applied for one and did get accepted into the program. Being able to continue at the Y has been a HUGE part of my healing process over the last couple of years. It is the selfish time I’ve taken for me that has continued to propel me forward with a healthy mind, body and spirit.
I’m so thankful to all of the individual and corporate sponsors of the Greater Houston YMCA. If you feel led to contribute financially or as a volunteer, the Y needs you! For information on how you can make a difference in your own community click HERE.