Rye Y Story Project: Richard O.

RichardI believe it was 1960 when I joined the Rye Y. I was an avid handball player. And the Y was the place. We had to use the basketball court in the gym, which was in the old wooden building. We’d pull the basket up and I’d play with a guy, Joe O’Brien—he used to work here for many, many years—and he was a good handball player. He had bow-legs but he could move around the court like a weasel. And then every night I would swim in this tiny little pool. That’s the only pool we had.

I have five kids. And they all went to camp. And the kids and the camp were marvelous. We’d go up to see them and they didn’t even recognize us anymore. They were in another world. It was wonderful.

Now, I swim. That’s exclusively what I do. I don’t do any athletics or anything like that.

The Y has always been friendly, which is nice because you meet people here and it enlarges your life. It gets you away from your wife! [Laughs heartily]. No, she’s just glad to get me away. I’m just kidding around. She’s a wonderful girl.

But that’s about the size of it. I have to thank Pat [MacCarthy] for bringing me over here. I appreciate it. I’m here every day that I can. I stay away on Saturdays; it’s too crowded. A crowded pool is not a relaxing pool. I paddle along for a half an hour every day. It makes a difference in my life. In fact, I’m a different person when I come back! I’m more patient. I’m more calm. The reward is huge. When I finish, I feel all these wonderful things happening.

I used to swim over at SUNY Purchase in the morning and the evening. Today, I swim at the beach in the morning in the summertime and I swim at the Y in the afternoon. I’m 94 years old. I’m not really that old. [Laughs]. I don’t think I am! I don’t see any limits.

Rye Y Story Project: Shane

Ten years ago we moved to the US from London. We are a well-being family, all of us. We needed somewhere local where we had access to fitness. Something more community-based than the latest high-rise gym. And the Y has a fiercely good reputation, not just here but everywhere.

My wife did swimming lessons with the little ones for a number of years. All three of my kids learned to swim here. Our oldest daughter is 16, our middle daughter Mia is 12 and our little man is 10. As they’ve gotten older, we’ve moved to different fitness routines at the Y. This past Monday, Mia and I went downstairs and worked out. We’ll hit the Y together as often as we can. My young man isn’t there yet but we’re looking to start getting him involved in the next year or so. My oldest daughter is inundated with work but when she gets some time she’ll take a run down here. My wife is in the Y three times a week swimming and spinning.

Number one, the Y is a cost effective way to make sure we can get our fitness routines in. It has a broad selection – I need diversity in my regimen. I’ve done a lot of training programs in my time and the Y covers every single aspect that I need – whether it is spinning or the machines upstairs. I just find it’s got the space and the scale. I don’t feel like there are a bunch of posers where if I might not be lifting enough weights I might get frowned upon. If I do something wrong there is always someone to help you. It’s good.

I like the routine. Walking in, in the morning, the folks at the front desk are super friendly. A good morning is always a nice way to start the day. The staff has been here for a while so it just drives the fact that there is a lot of loyalty here. I buy into that.

Rye Y Story Project: Sheila V.

SheilaMy Y experience started when I was five with gym and swim. Kate Tiedemann (now Coach Kate) and I were both on the Wave Ryeder swim team and I and swam here all through high school.

I came back to the Y as an adult to volunteer because I wanted to keep my swimming certifications current. After I had children, I continued to volunteer with Mommy and Me and was eventually hired to teach swimming lessons. It was great when my kids were little – I was so close if someone called in sick and needed a sub. I worked two or three hours a day. As my kids got busier, I started taking on more and more. At one point, I was teaching several spin classes and water exercise classes a week.

My approach to water exercise is very postural. I’ll say to the class – shoulders back and down, straighten your bodies out and think about your spine! I plan my classes in advance. I change my music – fresh music helps. My big voice helps. And eye contact. I always look to see if members are struggling or bored. Now with my full- time position, I just sub.

When a full-time position (Assistant Aquatics Director) came up, I was ready. I oversee the youth swim program. I’m putting more details into the swim evaluations for both the instructors and parents. I want all of the instructors to teach the same skills at each stage. My goal is for a child to get through a stage in one or two nine-week sessions. I have a great group of instructors this year who are caring and enthusiastic and focused. I’ll jump in with an instructor and show them how to hold the child’s feet to teach them how to kick. I love being a swim instructor and would like to share that sense of accomplishment with others. I try to talk to the parents and keep them informed. I want to try to alleviate the roadblocks that crop up when registering for classes.

I love the water. I love being in the water, under the water, being able to play in the water. Water is soothing. I want to help instructors and children understand that the water is safe and fun. And you can have it for the rest of your life! When you get to be an older person you’re not going to want to pound the pavement or jump up and down. It is ideal to learn to swim by the age of 6. And you don’t have to be a beautiful swimmer. You just need to know that you can get to the other side. And float!

I’d like everyone to have the option of using the water for whatever it happens to be – swimming, exercise, relaxation, friendship!

Rye Y Story Project: Tamora

I’m here for fitness. I’m a runner so strength training is very important. I don’t use machines; I do everything freestyle. My trainer, Brendan Ahearn, is superb. He is very knowledgeable and takes training seriously. He has actually kept me on the road running. I text him ahead of time if I have any issues and he has everything planned out and when I leave here I feel better. It is wonderful.

I support the Y because as a young girl growing up in Charleston, my parents were busy and not very interactive, but we had a rec center and I used to go there. I learned to run there and became part of that community. To me, that is very healthy. I contribute to kids’ programs here because my life was really changed. I’m giving back.

Rye Y Story Project: Sandy G.

SandyI came to the Y at least 20 years ago because I wanted to work out. Until about two years ago, I just did the fitness center. I liked that but then I saw all these other interesting and incredible things like Enhance Fitness and Basic Training and Pickleball. So now I spend at least half my week here!

I was always active. I played tennis and platform tennis. And I would hike. I tried doing exercises at home. We had a lot of different machines: the Nordic Track, the rower, a treadmill. But I would look for any excuse to stop exercising. When you come here, your mindset is so different. I think I’m doing more now than I ever did. And I’m getting up there!

This is just such a comfortable place to be. And the people—I have not met one person, staff or member, who was other than delightful and helpful and nice. I sell real estate and I think this is one of the biggest boons to Rye. It answers everything. It’s almost like a home away from home.

Most of the people in my family belong to a Y. My daughter lives in Martha’s Vineyard and there’s a Y that was built there about two years ago. It’s across the street from the high school and the kids come directly from school. My daughter has no power because of yesterday’s storm and she said she’d go to her office for the internet service and then she’d go to the Y to shower. To me, the Y is an extension of home.

I’m trying MELT at 12 p.m. today. I don’t know how I’ll survive it after Basic Training! But there are other women who have. One of the problems I have is just finding the time to do it all! If I did everything I thought was interesting here, I would be here six hours a day!

The thing I find just so amazing is watching the little kids. There seems to be something very open about the kids here. They smile a lot. I wish I came to a place like this when I was three years old. It’s such an advantage for them—the connections with the other kids and seeing them play outside. The moms sit and watch and the kids are free. And in these times, it’s nice to see kids feel free.

Rye Y Story Project: Sandy D.

I joined the Rye YMCA because I was always interested in exercising since I was a teenager. I used to run and do a lot of fast walking but then my knees started to tell me I couldn’t that anymore. So, I had to do something that was a little lighter on my knees and decided to join the Y. I started with the high-end Zumba class which I loved but that wasn’t so great on my knees either. Then I took the aqua aerobics class, loved it, and have been doing it ever since. It has been fifteen years now!

I also take the senior Zumba class at Wainwright House with Angela. I love that class too because it’s gentle Zumba, as I call it. My goal is to keep fit and keep my knees from going crazy!

All in all, the instructors are great, the classes are fun and I love the ladies that I take classes with. Every once in a while, we get together and we really enjoy each other’s company. We have a Christmas party and a Mother’s Day luncheon. It was a lot of fun! If I don’t go to the Y for a week I really miss it and feel I have to get back soon!

Rye Y Story Project: Donna S.

DonnaI’ve lived in Rye for 23 years. I came to the Y about nine years ago for summer camp for my children. After summer camp was over, I found out about other programs. The Y was very generous with scholarships so we definitely took advantage of that. The kids took swimming lessons and learned how to swim. I signed them up for vacation club. They were camp counselors here. My daughters’ photos are in two of the older program guides. We were so happy when they made the brochures. I believe my son is in one too!

One day, instead of waiting for them, I decided to go to the Fitness Center and use the treadmill. So when the kids were finished, I was finished; it was a great day. That is when my fitness program began.

My children are young adults now: Aliyah is 22, Angelo is 27 and Indeia is 26 and a school teacher. I work at Westmed as a Medical Assistant in Pediatrics. I’ve been there for over 13 years. I know people in the surrounding communities of Port Chester, Greenwich and Rye. It’s wonderful; I see some of the physicians and children here. It is a good connection.

I appreciate the Y’s generosity throughout the years. Living in Rye, sometimes it wasn’t easy. It could be isolating. It wasn’t a diverse town. When I joined the Y, I finally felt part of the community. Honestly, I found my place here. People were friendly. People at the Y didn’t assume I was a nanny – I was Donna, mom of Aliyah, Angelo and Indeia! I connected with people here through physical activity and participated in events like The Rye Derby. I ran for a couple years then I started volunteering and handing out t-shirts!

I feel welcomed here because of the diversity and the friendliness. Everyone is welcome. When you see people like you here it feels good – other African Americans as well as Spanish-speaking people. Just a variety of people getting along from all over, not just Rye. It makes a difference because everyone has a different perspective on life – it just comes together.

I am so appreciative of how the Y has welcomed my family and shaped and encouraged us. Thank you for making us feel a part of the community.

Rye Y Story Project: Diane N.

DianeI’ve been coming to the Y since November of 2016. I recently retired as a school teacher in the Mamaroneck School District. I used to swim at the middle school before class. And when I retired, I didn’t have access to a pool. I’m like a mermaid, I’m a fish out of water. I was always on the swim team, a competitive swimmer, lifeguard, taught swimming lessons. I just love to be in the water.

So I was thinking ‘where can I go?’ And I remembered that once, when the Hommocks Middle School was closed for repairs, one of my colleagues came to the Rye Y to do laps. His kids worked out at the Rye Y because they were on the swim team. So I said ‘well, let’s go check it out’. So I came that summer of 2016 and I talked to the people at the front desk. I asked for a tour and asked if I could just do 20 laps which they let me do. I thought that it was a very nice Y. I’ve been in a few different Ys and this is a particularly nice one.

Right before I retired in 2016, I had a heart attack. I had to do cardiac rehab for a few months at Greenwich Hospital and as soon as I was finished with that, I joined the Rye Y. At first, I thought I wanted to do only lap swimming, but I participated in a week of aquatics classes, and I was sold. It’s fun working out to music and it works all parts of your body and is good for aerobics, flexibility and strength. And it’s good for my heart health.

I try to come Monday through Friday for the aquatics classes. Nothing else but aquatics. I think the teachers are particularly good here. It’s fun. It gets me out of bed. It gets me moving and I really love it. I’ve even filled in teaching classes. They wanted me to be a sub, but I’d rather be in the water.

I wanted to help out in another way, so about a year ago, I designed a short sleeve t-shirt, held a sale and we made about $500 for the Annual Campaign. This year, we are offering a long sleeve tee shirt for the annual campaign. The annual campaign gives other people the chance to enjoy the Y as much as I do.

Rye Y Story Project: Heather H.

HeatherI joined the Rye YMCA four years ago to work towards an exercise routine. I’ve been working with a personal trainer, George, who has given me the incentive to continue towards my goals. When my children were younger, we participated in many of the family events, like the Halloween Party and Derby, where my daughter discovered her passion for running. She is now on the track team at Rye Neck Middle School.

I love the mission of the Y, that it encourages community diversity. I hope to utilize the pool to swim laps in the future. I love the Y!

Rye Y Story Project: Susan and Brett

Susan and BrettSusan: We have been members for about a year and live in Mamaroneck. We come to the Y for the swimming, water aerobics, the pools. We were members of the New York Sports Club and it was hard getting free time in the pool. We come to the Y on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the water aerobics classes. I like being in a class because it’s a set time rather than having to go on my own. I like the discipline of the classes. I don’t use any of the other facilities at the gym because it’s too strenuous on my knees.

Brett: I go where my wife goes. I never did water aerobics and realized her exercising for both of us did not work. She got me into it and I am hooked. I was a runner when I was younger but my running days are over. But I am doing the aerobics which is great and I feel more flexible. The pool is very well equipped with noodles, buoys, and belts. This is a lovely Y and the facilities are great.