We are much more than simply a centre for physical fitness.
We are a charity that focuses on nurturing potential, promoting healthy living, and fostering social responsibility. And we work hard every day to make a positive impact in individual’s lives in the communities we serve.
We are proud to share some of the examples of the lasting personal and social change that we have helped foster.
Transformation starts here
I first found the YMCA when I was a teenager. I left for some time, and returned after having my first son. I was in desperate need of a lifestyle change, and knew I needed help. The Y seemed like the perfect fit for my family, as there was affordable child care I could utilize while I exercised. The children’s programming was second to none in the city – I knew this was the perfect facility for us!
The staff were nothing less than amazing. Despite feeling intimidated by the prospect of classes, and working out in front of people, they made me feel welcome and helped modify anything I needed. If ever my son needed me, the staff found me. It was so comforting knowing he was never far away, and that his needs were being met.
I got pregnant with my second son, and soon after we moved outside of Winnipeg. I found it harder and harder to attend the gym, and soon found myself again, leading an unhealthy lifestyle. I became isolated and so desperately missed the community at the Y. We made a choice to move back to the city. This is where my journey really got started!
I began attending classes every day, I utilized the help of a trainer, and set small goals to work toward. Things that I could never do before, were suddenly being done with ease. I was moving around with less pain, more energy and was more confident than ever. There were days that were hard, days I wanted to give up….but I knew I had to keep going!
After 2 years of hard work, I lost 95 lbs. To this day, that number shocks me. That number shocks me because I never thought that was possible. I never thought I’d ever achieve that. Though losing weight was a bonus, I had really tried to place my focus on how I was feeling, how my body was gaining strength, and how I was able to complete classes that once left me sitting on the side lines trying to catch my breath. Last year, I ran my first half marathon, and I have since run 4 more – an accomplishment I would never have even dreamed of achieving, just a few short years ago. I am registered to run my first full marathon in 2019!
People began commenting, asking questions, wanted to know how I did it. People were asking *me* for advice. The same questions I remember asking others. It felt SO good. I began seeking information to become certified as an instructor. I wanted to make the same difference in people’s lives, that other instructors made for me. I wanted people to know, no matter where they were in their journey, anything was possible. I got my certification at the end of 2017, and I have loved every single second of it! I look forward to going to work, and I feel so fulfilled in what I am doing.
Today I feel better than ever. I love sharing my story, I love showing others what they are capable of, I love seeing my attendees make strides week to week. Most importantly, I love the community. It is not just another gym, it really is a family!
There aren’t words to explain how the YMCA has improved my life. My life has literally been changed; the person I am has been changed. There isn’t a single aspect of my life that hasn’t improved since joining the YMCA family! I am healthier, happier and more confident than I have been my entire life. My kids have learned, grown and developed skills from all the amazing programs offered. They have made some of their best friends and enter the doors with confidence everyday.
“Dad, slow down!”
Those words are music to Jamie’s ears, since only a few years ago he was battling significant health challenges and wasn’t able to keep up with his daughters.
Jamie was more than 120 pounds overweight, had developed Type 2 diabetes and was battling anxiety and depression. He was scared. Everything changed after a sobering visit with his doctor, when he was told that if he didn’t make changes he wouldn’t be alive to see his children grow up. He knew he needed to do something – if not for himself, then for his daughters.
Jamie wanted to go to a place where he and his family could become involved, where they could make lifestyle changes together. When he walked through the doors of the YMCA, he felt like he was part of a community. He felt at home and met people who believed in his healthy future.
The Y staff helped Jamie make big changes and tackle his goals one small step at a time. That made all the difference – over the next two years, Jamie lost 145 pounds. His physical and mental health improved dramatically. And amazingly, he has become a YMCA wellness instructor, personal trainer, and a group fitness instructor!
Jamie’s health has never been better, and with his YMCA community by his side, he will help many more people become active and healthy.
As a single parent with limited income, being able to send my children to Camp each summer through the Y’s subsidy program is a small miracle and an amazing gift. I will never forget how much growth, independence and confidence my daughter exemplified after her first two-week session at Camp. Camp breaks many dark cycles of my children’s ancestral lineage and brightens their future. There is no better way to ensure opportunities for growth in self-esteem and a sense of community belonging than through attendance at Camp.
The Y opened new options for me. The option to play basketball, go swimming, work out, and just to be in a safe place. The Y has been life-changing for me, just having the option to go – whether an excuse to get away from problems, to let loose, or to be with friends. The Y has helped me stay out of trouble and out of some dark hallways. I remember staying 6 to 10 hours a day playing basketball. There were times when the Y was the only place I had to go.
Going to the Y is like therapy for me. I love having sweat drip down my face as I run. I love listening to music and running my fastest. It takes a lot of <<expletive>> off my mind, such as family and personal problems. Before, I used to be a cutter. A friend recommended that I get a Y pass and she said it helps a lot. She was right. Thanks to the Y and running, I don’t cut anymore. Going to the Y is also an escape to get away from an alcoholic father. Usually after a good workout, it feels really good. Best feeling ever.
It sounds very cheesy, but the Y really did shape who I am and set me down a certain path. Against my will, my mom signed me up for a lot of programs at the Y. And it turned out that I loved all of them. When I was 13 I was started on the Leadership Program at the South Y and then later on that summer, when I was still 13, I was signed up for a two-week canoe trip at the Y’s Camp Stephens. And that was all because my mom had a friend whose daughter had done one of the trips and said it was character building – the daughter came back all confident and it was really good for her. So I had to do it. And one or two days in, I discovered that I really liked it. And for over a decade after that I spent every summer at a Y Camp. So I went from not being an outdoorsy person at all to being REALLY into it. And my whole life has been around outdoor education…and that’s 100% because of the Y.
Excerpt from a letter from a former volunteer & staff member
When I started I quickly realized that the kids that come to the centre are in-need of positive adult role models and as soon as I put on the YMCA-YWCA shirt I automatically became one. I learned that an engaging smile to a kid as they walked through the door could brighten their day. I learned that there are no “bad kids”, there are kids who make bad decisions, but that we could help them make better choices in the future. I learned about Y values like respect, responsibility, honesty and caring and how I could use these values as tools to help kids solve their problems. Best of all for me, I learned that all these skills helped me become a better mom to my own kids.