Rye Y Story Project: Ellen

EllenI first came to the Rye Y twenty-three years ago, when my sons were two and four years old. I was looking for programs for them. But the only programs available for pre-schoolers were swim classes.

Then, in the summer of 1990, a friend was hired to work at the Y camp and she told me that they needed someone to run the camp music activities for a couple days a week. Although I had been a professional dancer and singer in my twenties, I had never taught music to young children. I went to the library and researched children’s songs. I used songs that my children loved. It was so successful, I asked the Y if they wanted me to start a children’s music program in the Fall. I started with one class. I trained two others to lead the program so there could be more classes. Soon, there were 13 classes per week. Now, I’m teaching 11 music, dance and movement classes per week.

For me, this job is what I was meant to do. The Y has allowed me to grow as a teacher. They encourage new initiatives and new ideas. The fitness department has changed my body because as that area grew, they taught me about Pilates, yoga, Zumba, and group power classes. What I love about the Y is that it has such a wide variety of fitness instructors. Everyone can find someone who is a good personality fit for themselves.

Both of my sons, who are now 25 and 28, learned to swim at the Y and went to Y summer camp until they were 12. When you’re at the Y, it feels like family.

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Rye Y Story Project: Jill

JillYes, my power is out at home [Hurricane Sandy], but I would have come here anyway! It keeps me both healthy and sane. I’ve done everything here! The pool, Zumba, Yoga.… I’ve been a member for 35 years. I am bionic, with three hip replacements and a repaired crushed knee. The Y is my self-rehabilitation station. I know that I can retire right here because everything you need is right here. If you are injured, you can get well. You can maintain your health. The whole atmosphere is friendly, even the employees seem remarkably happy.

I’ve lived in Rye for 38 years. I speak French and worked for Air France at JFK airport and in Paris. I then became a dance teacher and co-owned A Dance Studio in Larchmont. Interested in health and healing, I became a certified Zen Shiatsu instructor for the Ohashi Institute and then a licensed Acupuncturist since 1989. I have always been a seeker and teacher and founded Animal Nation, a non profit organization with a mission to speak up for all living beings as well as rescue, rehabilitate and re-home abused, orphaned and injured animals………domestic, wild and farmed.

For the past 6 years, my passions include Argentine Tango which I find is a metaphor for life. I also love teaching it! The feeling you have when dancing tango is different from any other form of recreation. You learn respect, how to connect and listen to your partner, as you move across the floor and life. It’s very Zen and timeless! I love food too! I use the bikes in the Y Fitness Center and I watch the cooking channel. I stay an extra half hour to see two shows, especially the ending where they eat the dish. I feel like I have this delicious gourmet meal, but only virtually ……, I still burn my calories! I love you Rye Y!

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Rye Y Story Project: Chris

Chris-My wife Megan and I came to the Rye Y about ten years ago. We live in White Plains and had belonged to the White Plains Y. Megan, who is a really good swimmer, was looking for a Master Swim class; the Y there didn’t have one, but the Rye Y did. We switched and never looked back. Now we have a family membership for Megan, our three-year old daughter Bridget, and myself.

I use the fitness room, the weights and treadmill. I also swim and shoot hoops in the gym. Megan swims, takes yoga classes and uses the fitness room. Bridget has taken swim classes here since her first Mommy and me class when she was six months old. She’s rapidly rising through the ranks!

We’ve made a lot of good friends here—people we’ve met in classes or in the fitness room. These friendships have carried over outside the Y. They’re some of our best friends now. I come here to maintain fitness and for stress relief. The Y has a variety of programs and helps me meet those goals. I haven’t gained a pound in the past 10-15 years. Megan and I are both teachers and we like the family vibe at the Y.

It’s a Godsend with a small child. My daughter loves to swim and see all the other kids. She knows all the lifeguards. The people who work here also make it special. Paul, who works at the front desk on weekends, treats my daughter like his own granddaughter. They’re very nice, capable people. My number one reason for being part of the Y is working out. My number two reason is the mission of the Y. I like the community focus.

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Rye Y Story Project: Dottie

DottieI’m the Vice President for the Rye Association for the Handicapped. My husband was a stroke survivor and had no place to exercise. About eight or nine years ago, I was at a senior swim at Beckwith Point in New Rochelle when I met Irving Rothman. He told us about the Rye Y and the Rye Association for the Handicapped. So we came.

My husband, who wasn’t a water person, found the experience phenomenal because of all the people. The lifeguards, the staff, and members were all so helpful and concerned. They try to make your life comfortable here. From Gregg (Howells) to Juan (Davila), they’re all helpful. My husband passed away in January 2009. I stayed on as a volunteer with the Association and became Vice President about two years ago.

To give back to the Y, I helped organize Senior Day with (former Fitness Center Director) Charlie Clute. We had a great time. I also help out with the Rye Derby. I’m still here and still reaping the benefits of the Y. It gives you a sense of belonging.

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Rye Y Story Project: David

DavidI have lived in Rye since 1963 and my earliest memories of the YMCA were learning to swim. Back then we would actually meet Rye Y lifeguards at the beach and that’s where we had our swim lessons. I continued coming to the Y consistently until I left for college in 1977. And then when I completed graduate school, I re-joined the Y around 1986 or 1987 and have been a continuous member ever since.

Over the years, I learned the discipline of good fitness by using the old Y weight room and the fitness center. I also have great memories of the 3 on 3 basketball leagues the Y used to run about 15 years ago. Through playing racquetball at the Y, I met Bill Ganley and Marvin Henk, who were on the Y’s board and they recruited me to join them on the board. I served two terms (six years total) and spent much of my time assisting with the human resources side of things. I remember being very impressed with the hiring process that brought Gregg Howells (the current Executive Director) to the Y. I also have nice memories of helping with the annual Rye Derby.

Things have come full circle at the Y for me as I have a family membership and my daughter also learned to swim here. We continue to look forward to the weekend family swims, especially over the winter months. Most recently, I had double hip replacements and I did much of my rehab at the Y. Over all these years, I have always embraced the Y’s focus on spirit, mind and body, which is what I love about the Y. I have also enjoyed very much the tremendous growth the Y has had over the past several years.

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Rye Y Story Project: Coby

CobyEMy wife and I joined the Rye YMCA about 25 years ago. We had never been members of any other gyms or YMCAs, due to our busy schedules. Because the Rye YMCA is local and I am a Rotary Club member, this facility is very convenient for both of us. My wife and I have lived in Rye Brook, New York for the last 25 years.

The Rye Y is special to us because of the members, staff, such as Gregg Howells, and the many friendships we have built throughout the years. Even though my wife has a really bad hip, she loves the staff so much that she pushes herself to attend classes as much as possible! My initial goal when I first arrived at the Rye YMCA was to remain fit. I use the fitness center and the racquetball court all the time.

I have established great relationships with members and staff. We partner together, in order to set up times to play racquetball. At present, I’m satisfied with my workout regimen, even though I don’t like working out! I do whatever activity I feel will keep me going!

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Rye Y Story Project: Mary

MaryI first moved to Rye with 2 babies in tow. I lived in the Arcade building on Purchase Street and the Rye YMCA was a hop, skip and a jump from me. Then I moved to Mead Place and the Rye Y was still a hop, skip and a jump. I finally moved to Stuyvesant Avenue and felt bad that I had to commute to the Y.

The Y has been a sanctuary to me since the first time I put my children in the babysitting room. Now with my children at ages 13, 16 and 19, the Rye YMCA remains a place of solace, sanctuary and sanity.

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Rye Y Story Project: Lorrayne and Terri

Lorrayne & TerriLorrayne: I joined the Y 31 years ago. I love everything about coming here. Swimming is great because it doesn’t bother my knees. In the pool I walk half the lane and then swim the other half. I would swim even more but I don’t have a car and rely on rides. I just feel so good after coming here – I can’t put it into words.

Teri: I’ve been a member most of my life. I learned to swim at the Y and was on the swim team. Now, I enjoy playing racquetball and love Nora’s yoga classes. She is such a wonderful instructor – if you have body issues, she shows you how to modify poses. I like that there is something for everyone here – swimming, Zumba, even non-physical activities. I think the Y is a great resource for the community and was so grateful to be able to take hot showers here during Hurricane Sandy. Plus, the Y is such an asset for my mother’s health and well-being.

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Rye Y Story Project: Jennifer

JenniferWhen I was a senior in high school, I had back surgery for scoliosis. The Harrington rod, a stainless steel surgical device, was implanted along my spinal to treat my drastic curvature of the spine. Post surgery, for years to come, I stayed very active but with limited flexibility. Thankfully, I was able to continue to run short distances and kept in great shape through weight bearing exercises as well.

That changed a few years ago with my divorce. The toll of taking care of my home and raising two extremely active children practically on my own, resulted in a return of back problems and pain. But I picked myself up and forged on. Since my divorce, I have LOVED running. I ran three half marathons, tons of Turkey Trots and Rye Derbys and just completed the Danskin Triathlon with the Y Tribe team. It was awesome and I couldn’t have done it without the support of the Y. Now I am left with a recent diagnosis of Degenerative Disc Disorder.

The doctors have told me that I shouldn’t be running. To tell a runner this is the most disheartening news. It has taken me months to wrap my head around this but I am accepting the news slowly but surely. I count my lucky stars that the Rye Y yoga classes have been amazing for me. And that pool has also been beyond therapeutic. I am on a Deep Water Running mission now as I try to find different exercises that are good for my back. I see this challenge as a new stage in my life and one I literally can’t run from. The Rye Y is my comfort, my support, my inspiration and my motivating source. Thank you so very much.

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Rye Y Story Project: Paula

PaulaThe Y helped me through the most difficult period in my life. In 2006, I had a health crisis. I was diagnosed with breast cancer and within 3 months underwent 3 surgeries and radiation therapy. I was able to resume my exercise routine at the Y within 5 months of my diagnosis. My doctors attributed my quick recovery to my positive attitude and the fact that I was in good physical condition going in.

I credit the Y for keeping me totally motivated. Whenever I stopped by the Y during my recovery period, everyone was, and continues to be, so welcoming and caring. Once I was able to exercise again, I worked with a personal trainer to establish a new routine and started going to all of our fabulous group exercise classes.

I retired in late 2011, and now go to 10 classes a week. I feel surrounded by people who care here. I love this place; it is my second home. Because the Y has given me so much, I have chosen to volunteer here so that I can “give back.” It is the best “gift” I have ever given to myself. I enjoy sitting at the front desk greeting existing and potential members and helping out in HR, both of which use the skills I developed during my 38-year working career.

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