“I can’t breathe,” I remember saying to my mom. “You can’t what?” she asked, looking at me quizzically. “Breathe,” I said. “The air is different. It’s just humid in here, sweetie. OK.”It was 1975, and I was entering the Melrose YMCA for my first indoor swimming lesson. At five, I’d already spent plenty of time in the water, either on the beach in Falmouth or up on Sebago Lake in Maine. But a pool that’s inside? In winter? Cool! Weird, but cool. What I couldn’t have known then was how big a part of my life this place would become, and how many “firsts” I’d experience here.
My first participation in a team sport was swimming as a Melrose Shark. Was I good? Uh, no. Not at all. But it led me to other firsts: my first club (“the Leaders Club”) where I met friends that I still have today, my first crush (he knows who he is), and my first job: teaching a “water babies” swimming class for parents and their infants.
We lost each other for a while, the YMCA and me. College in western Massachusetts, a year in England, and a stint in Washington DC kept us apart. But then I found myself back home: a young adult with an entry level job, an apartment…and expenses. Lots and lots of expenses. What gym would have me with so small a budget? Fortunately, in this new phase of my life, the YMCA was there for what I needed: a friendly, affordable place to get fit. And it offered the now grown-up me a whole new set of “firsts”. What was this mysterious craze called “step aerobics” that the world was talking about? I found out here. Spinning? Here again. While my colleagues were handing over king’s ransoms to their health clubs, I was happily (and thriftily) doing the same workout for less.
I’m a mom of two now, and the YMCA plays an even larger role in my growing family’s life. Outside of our parents, the caring babysitters at the Y were the first people to whom my husband and I handed our newborn son. Our Y is where I became one of the “students” in the parent/infant swim class instead of its teacher. It’s where both our kids first proudly (so proudly!) swam without a bubble. And it’s where my daughter first kicked a soccer ball.
It continues to push me in my own fitness journey, too. Here, I never stop learning new exercises, like TRX. Here, with the Team Training Challenge, I am still part of a sports team. That’s perhaps what I like most about the YMCA. Like family, there is no “expiration date.” There will never be a time when the YMCA ceases to offer something for me, my husband or our kids. Here, I know that we can each find what we need for our health and fitness during each phase of our life, for the rest of our life.
I’m a busy mom of three school aged kids. I’m always on the go. But when the opportunity to write about what the YMCA means to my family, I made room to express my appreciation for this precious organization that has been a big part of my family for several years. There is no doubt in my mind that each of our lives has been improved through our membership at the Melrose YMCA. There’s something for each of us at the Melrose Y.First of all, if it weren’t for the great location we could never make the Y part of our daily lives. Proximity is important to our fitness. If an activity or facility is inconvenient, I won’t be able to work it into our very full family schedule.
We’re also never lonely at the Y because the members are our neighborhood friends. My 14 year old daughter meets friends at the teen center and works out in the fitness center with her Color Guard teammates. My 10 year old son has had his birthday party every year at the Y gym and has taken swimming lessons with the boy next door. And most surprisingly, my 17 year old son spent the summer getting up (at 7:00 a.m.!) to swim laps with his friends. Having friends to be active with is priceless.
It’s hard to tell which we appreciate more, the regular classes such as Weight Training or Zumba, or the special events like splash parties, community services, or cookies and coffee at the front desk. Still, when it comes to understanding our world and taking community responsibility seriously, the Y has always been there by sponsoring community awareness events and by being a vehicle for food pantry collections and more. It’s clear the Y is here to be a part of the solutions that help the most vulnerable among us.
The best benefit for me has been the change in my fitness. With the help of a fitness instructor and an unending variety of classes, I lost 20 lbs. Being a part of the YMCA community makes it easy and enjoyable for me to stay fit while I set a good example for my kids to live a healthy lifestyle. If I can do it, they can too and the YMCA is always there to help!
My brother and I are fourth generation Y members on both sides of our family. We started coming to the Melrose Y at three months old, for music classes and swim lessons, and currently we have been swimming for the Melrose Y Sharks swim team for eight years.Our family’s Y history started in the late eighteen hundreds, when my great-great uncle played for the Bridgeport, Connecticut YMCA football team. My brother has a photo of the football team hanging in his room. Our paternal grandfather also played basketball for the Bridgeport YMCA in the 1930s. Over the last 20 years, our dad has had a Y membership everywhere he lived in different areas of Massachusetts. On our maternal side our great grandfather was a member of the YMCA in New York City; he was a firefighter and went to the YMCA to stay fit and active. Our great grandmother also belonged to the YWCA; she swam laps every Friday night for most of her life. Our maternal grandparents both learned to swim at the Y and took advantage of free swim times.
Our mother grew up at the Ann Arbor, MI, YMCA.She was on the swim team, took gymnastics, weaving, math, judo and drawing classes. She and her family also attended YMCA family camp in the summers. They also volunteered at the camp, cooking, cleaning and preparing the camp for other families.
When our parents were deciding where to live when they got married they were drawn to Melrose, in part because of the central location of the Y. My mom swam laps to stay in shape when she was pregnant with my brother and immediately began taking him to classes once he was born.
We have participated in many of the classes the Y has offered over the years. The Y is a wonderful place to be a member because of the amiable, family atmosphere. All the staff is welcoming and inviting.
Over the years that I have been a member, many positive changes have taken place. Many new classes and programs have started, and more exciting events have taken place. One of our family’s favorite events is the Spooky Sprint 5K that we have run in for the past two years.
As a member of the Sharks swim team, I recognize all the work the Y has done. A great new coaching staff was hired, we are able to participate in dry-lands programs, and the team is flourishing as a whole. In conclusion, the Melrose YMCA has been a welcoming and enjoyable place for our family for over 100 years. We look forward to 100 more!
I have resided in Lynn since 2004 and have been employed by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) since 1994. My 24 year old daughter has been a Lead Teacher at a day care center in Lynn known as The Gregg House since 2009. I’m now a grandmother of an 11 month old joyful, brainy baby boy. Our family has been active at the Lynn YMCA on and off for years.
After working each day assisting many homeless families…sharing guidance and support …being able to just simply wind down at the YMCA really helps reduce stress. I will admit how empowered my daughter feels to be able to join me at the Lynn YMCA, which enables her to work out daily stress after assisting toddlers with developmental issues. Networking in the locker room with people from various backgrounds has become a very positive social tool for me and my daughter. We look forward to signing my grandson up for swimming lessons. Most times I can’t wait to get home, pack my workout bag and run to the Lynn YMCA to sweat and flex to the best of my ability.
I also love how much my efforts have passed down to my daughter. She really looks forward to working out. Now that she has an 11 month old son, we take turns babysitting him just to get a good work out. Feeling better and breathing better allows us to communicate better with each other. That’s just some of the benefits of keeping families healthy and strong.