Letter: More than a health club
On a regular basis, we field calls from prospective new members about how we compare to other health clubs. For example, "Do you have the same equipment as Health Club X?" Or, "Health Club X is offering a free month of membership. Are you running any specials?" The caller at the other end of the phone line is usually pretty surprised when our response is "We are not a health club."
This statement sounds a bit odd, but it lies at the core of who the Y is and what makes us different, and why we are so important to the community. It’s true that we have a fitness center with treadmills, elliptical machines and resistance machines. We also have fitness classes ranging from Yoga to Zumba. But for the YMCA, these are just a means to helping our members and the community lead a healthier life in spirit, mind and body. It’s one of the tools that we use in a uniquely "Y" way to make our mission become reality.
There’s so much more going on here that you won’t see at a health club. Every day, dozens of children are learning about teamwork through soccer. Teens are learning to craft value-based decisions at Leaders Club. Adults are strengthening and flexing their way to continued independence. But even more important than that, every day, we’re developing relationships with our members. We’re discovering who they are and how we can better serve them in ways that health clubs don’t.
You see, at the Y, we know that lasting personal and social change comes about when we all work together. That’s why, at the Y, strengthening community is our cause. Every day, we work side-by-side with our neighbors to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.
The Y has often been described as a movement. We really like that description because we don’t measure our successes in analytical terms. For us it’s not about pounds lost or games won. For us, we measure our success by the impact we have in people’s lives: A child makes new friends because he’s on a soccer team. A senior discovers a new hobby through a relationship developed in a class for active older adults. These things are what make all the work we do worthwhile.
So if you’re a Y member and someone asks you what gym you go to, be sure to tell them that you don’t belong to a gym, but you are a part of the Y. Tell them about the great stuff that’s going on here. And if you want to find out more about what we do, contact me. I’d love to share.
Sheila Pillath, Branch Director
Mathews Family YMCA