The Y is my Happy Place

woman wearing sunglasses outside


“It’s my happy place,” says Geri Card, of her local Y. The retiree works out at the South Tampa Family YMCA, and suffers from genetic rheumatoid arthritis, a common type of autoimmune disease. “If I didn’t come to the Y in a disciplined fashion, really work on range of motion, and stamina I’d be in much worse shape,” she says.


“It’s important to my life that I keep coming here and working out. The attention to cleanliness is superb. The disinfectant wipes at every area is vitally important to people like me who are immunosuppressed.” Geri had a personal trainer who “didn’t injure me which has happened at other places,” she says. “I think part of what the Y does correctly to deliver that service is the type of people that they hire. They have young trainers and older trainers. The staff is reflective of the population they’re serving.”


Geri’s favorite class is dance fusion, a class that uses music with different genres to create a dance party environment. “The first time I did that class I thought I’m going to die,” she laughs, “but I tempered it down a little bit and it’s pushed me to where I have more stamina and more joint flexibility,” shares Geri. “These classes are very challenging and I think I’m doing more here because I’m in classes with people much older than I am and much younger but we cheer each other on.”


No matter what your age, the Y has something to offer for everyone. “It’s very affirming to people who are older and retired where a lot of other gyms you don’t get that community feel. I think the Y validates, supports, and encourages people of all ages, from infancy through the school-age years, mothers who are home with their kids, to providing so many activities for seniors,” Geri says, “It’s hard to find a place where older adults aren’t marginalized or disenfranchised.”


Geri says she’ll never forget an encounter at a grocery store with another member who also suffered from a disability. “He said, ‘Honestly, I have to tell you the Y is my life now.’ I was so touched by that. He’s very much alone and to come in here every morning gives him his socialization. The Y is enriching lives in a way that’s profound.”


We know that when we work together, we move individuals, families and communities forward. The Y responds to society’s most pressing needs by developing innovative, community-based solutions to help those in need to reach their full potential. Find your happy place at your local Y.


Pictured above: Geri Card describes the South Tampa Y as her happy place where she’s improved her health and has developed friendships.

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