Cathy’s Story: The Y: Building Strength, Building Community through Healthy Living

The YMCA is more than a gym…it’s a cause. The Y is a charity dedicated to youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. For 100 years we’ve been proud to help our neighbors learn, grow and thrive.

With programs from A to Z—from athletics to advocacy, dance classes to disease prevention, water aerobics to wellness—we don’t just strengthen individuals, we strengthen an entire community.

For Cathy and her husband, the Y is more than their gym, in fact “going to the Y has become like a religion.” They almost never miss a Monday, Wednesday or Friday. Their Y story began with a health scare, or as Cathy puts it a “Come to Jesus” moment when the doctor called her in and showed her how out of control her blood sugar had become. Her three-month average blood sugar was at a dangerously high 240. Having already changed her diet when she had first been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, the doctor brought in a counselor who told Cathy she needed to add exercise to her routine.

Still working at a stressful job, Cathy was unsure how she was going to find the time to exercise. Her husband, who was already retired and a member of the Lohse Y, offered to meet her at the Y to swim after work. She joined him at the pool, even though she didn’t know how to swim. Her knees needed the support of the water. After beginning on the edge of the pool where her feet could still touch, Cathy has, three years later, become a regular lap swimmer and participant of the deep water aerobics class held in the mornings at the Lohse Y.

It is at the Y where Cathy and her husband gained health to achieve her three goals of managing blood sugars, getting off of medications, and losing weight: through a regular deep-water aerobics class, and swimming laps in the pool, the couple has managed their Type 2 diabetes, bringing their blood sugars down to a point at which the doctor doesn’t consider them diabetic. She and her husband are now “the poster children for losing weight,” having lost 110 and 100 pounds respectively by changing eating habits and exercising at the Y. She credits the Y as being a big part of helping her become healthy.

Cathy can assert with confidence that she and her husband are in better shape in their sixties than they were in their forties, because of their regular time in the YMCA pool. Her once weak knees are now strong, although they can’t overcome arthritis.

Cathy 2Her water aerobics classes and time in the pool is more than just an opportunity for Cathy to get stronger and healthier, it is a time for her to stay socially connected. After doing laps and water aerobics she and her fellow swimmers meet in the Lohse Y coffee room to “solve the world’s problems.” If it wasn’t for her friends at the Y, she believes “she would be a hermit.” “Everyone cares about everyone” at the Y including members and staff. The lifeguards keep track of her progress and offer encouragement. Fellow swimmers look out for one another. If someone isn’t in the pool at the regular time, everyone takes note and checks on the person to see that everything is ok. “The Y staff and members of our water aerobics group continue to be genuinely interested and supportive of our efforts.” At the Y, a supportive community is a big part of achieving greater well-being.

Current challenges facing our neighbors, like Cathy and her husband faced, mean the need for the work we do is greater than ever before. Fortunately, where some see obstacles, we see opportunities for our members, volunteers, staff and generous donors like you, to make a difference. Through the annual campaign the Y is able to continue to address the obstacles our community faces. Give. And do so much more.