I’ll admit that I joined the board at the Rye YMCA because I wanted to mend my complicated relationship with Treadmill #8.
By Annabel Monaghan
I’ll admit that I joined the board at the Rye YMCA because I wanted to mend my complicated relationship with Treadmill #8. I’m sure you’re all familiar with its perks: it’s far enough away from the door that you don’t have to engage in hellos with people coming in and out of the gym; it looks out the window rather than into a mirror, so you can exercise without obsessing over that new vertical line on the left side of your forehead. But it forsakes me again and again. The heart rate monitor is temperamental; the speed adjusts randomly mid-run. I approach Treadmill #8 in a “so, we meet again” sort of way, and for some time I’ve been looking for more consistency in our relationship.
I’ve always loved the Y. It’s the closest gym to my house and costs a quarter of what other area gyms do. I go nearly every day and feel a little like Norm from “Cheers” when I walk in. Everybody doesn’t exactly know my name, but they know my schedule, my treadmill preference, and the fact that I’m working diligently on cracking the 12-minute mile. I have five friends at the Y, three of whose names I know. Paul, who’s in his 80s, is one of them, and I like to think he has a crush on me.
“I go to the Y nearly every day and feel a little like Norm from “Cheers” when I walk in. Everybody doesn’t exactly know my name, but they know my schedule, my treadmill preference, and the fact that I’m working diligently on cracking the 12-minute mile.”
You can imagine my surprise when I went to my first board meeting and the subject of Treadmill #8 never even came up. I scanned the agenda a second time to be sure. Gregg, the Executive Director of the Y, started the meeting by reading us a letter that he’d received from a mother who had been struggling financially and had been able to get her family back on its feet while her child attended the Y’s summer camp. The availability of a safe, nurturing place for her child had given her the opportunity to turn her life around.
It turns out that the Y’s not just a friendly gym. Figures hit me from every direction: 1,360 summer campers, 1,646 children swimming, 88 children in afterschool programs, 85 cancer survivors participating in LIVESTRONG. Notably, zero is the number of people turned away from Y memberships, camp, programs, or childcare for the inability to pay. As such, in 2015 alone, the Y gave out $520,000 in financial assistance to those in need.
Oddly, the treadmills never came up.
I had no idea how far the services of the Y stretched outside of Rye. Over half of the people who use the Y and benefit from its programs live in neighboring communities. This outreach includes tools and support to help struggling communities maintain healthy lifestyles, and the Diabetes Prevention Program offered at Open Door Family Medical Centers.
Back in Rye, the Y is digging in to perhaps our biggest problem as a founding member of Rye-ACT (Rye Action for Children and Teens), a community coalition to prevent teen alcohol and drug abuse, and is serving as their fiscal agent for receiving federal grants.
If you are still reading and are feeling equally astounded by all that the Y does for our community and our neighbors, I would encourage you to hang on to that feeling and join us when mentalist and magician Oz Perlman performs at the Rye YMCA’s annual gala on April 1 at Shenorock Shore Club. Oz was a finalist on “America’s Got Talent” and, be warned, he will actually blow your mind.
If you have not received an invitation in the mail, go to www.ryeymca.org/gala or email
N.B. At press time, no progress has been made on Treadmill #8.