18 February 2015

...at the Y-M-C-A

The munchkins and I are members at the city's YMCA. I've been a member there since we bought our house in town, before the Pumpkin Noodle was born and before that, I was a member of the YMCA in downtown Berkeley, before I joined the Corps. As I kid, I attended summer camps and afterschool programs at the Y, and it was where I learned to play soccer and swim. The munchkins also learned to swim at the Y, and it has been a place where I go not just to exercise, but to be a part of the local community.  (On their FB page, the tagline says, "We are more than just a building, we are the Y.")
The entrance....
There are lovely volunteers who greets members as they come through the door; there is a little container by the card swipe full of positive thoughts for the day, cut into fortune cookie strips, for people to take as they walk in; the CEO's office is right by the entrance, where he can be seen most days; and the staff never seems to have a bad day and to truly enjoy their jobs.

I love the amenities the Y offers for exercise - everything from two lap pools to TRX & barre classes, yoga, spin, pilates, a true weight room, with jump boxes, cages, and a real pull-up bar, and of course, the cardio areas, but the reason I love the Y more than anything is for the role it plays in the community. It has a swim team, youth sports leagues and targeted classes for healthy-living, as well as a family-oriented race series, with everything from obstacle racing to triathlon - and usually in support of a charity cause. It has afterschool care and summer camps. Above all, it is a place where people come to see friendly faces and connect with one another.

On the night of 7-8 February (the Saturday of the ICY-8 race), there was a fire at the Y, which started in the men's sauna on the second floor and then spread to the roof, causing extensive damage. Thankfully, and most importantly, no one was hurt. The fire was ruled accidental; however, due to the structural damage, as well as the smoke and dust which permeated the space, the Y will need significant repairs before the building can fully re-open.

Other gyms, clubs, and churches in the area have opened their doors to Y members and to host Y youth & adult programs, for which I am grateful, and of which I will avail myself.  It is not the same though, and not simply because of amenities - but because of the people who are the heart and soul of the YMCA. The Y facility is great, with continual upgrades and improvements based on member feedback, but it is its mission of giving and supporting the community, driven by the staff and volunteers that make it more than a gym, and I for one, can't wait for our family's community center to open its doors once more.

Until then, I guess we'll make do seeing our Y friends at swim lessons and at the Beach Dash (on March 7th) - and if I need to pick up a broom or paintbrush, I am game!

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