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Much more than a gym

March 2, 2018 GMT

With a large indoor swimming pool, a weight room, group fitness classrooms and series of renovations planned for the facility, the Beatrice YMCA is a one-stop shop that offers everything residents could ask for in a community gym.

Yet, the Beatrice Mary Family YMCA is much more than a workout facility, CEO Alison Leonard said—it’s a cause.

“It’s not just a swim and gym,” she said. “We really are a cause-driven organization that has our hands out to anybody in the community that would need any sort of assistance or support.”

While the Y does offer a wide range of health and wellness classes, events and services—from youth sports to diabetes prevention programs—the primary focus is on building relationships in the community.

“We’re a membership-based organization, but we’re really a relationship-based organization,” Leonard said.

By partnering with schools, law enforcement agencies and churches throughout Beatrice, the YMCA aims to build a stronger community with cause-driven leaders, and the Y is always looking for new ways to make connections. In the future, Leonard sees the Beatrice YMCA growing and adding new members, renovating the facility and reaching out to the community even more

“We try to stay very innovative,” Leonard said. “We’re always trying to come up with ways to keep people motivated and ways to keep people involved.”

YMCA Program Director Jennifer Elliott said that the Y welcomes everyone, though she has noticed an increase in the number of senior members since she began 10 years ago.

“I would say our senior population at the Y has grown,” Elliott said. “We’re seeing a lot more seniors involved in classes, and even just the social aspect of it—there’s a lot that are just coming here for a place to be.”

In recent years, Leonard has seen other changes not only at the Y, but throughout the community and society as a whole.

“Parents and children are so much more involved on their phones and social media,” she said. “We need to be aware of what our children are doing and how social media is affecting children in terms of bullying. Really, our society has changed a lot, so the Y has had to move with that movement.”

Leonard said that YMCAs across the country aim to promote social responsibility and welcome people from all walks of life to join in the effort.

“It doesn’t matter—age, race income—none of that. Everyone is welcome in some capacity and some way,” she said. “We’re trying to make it a lot more personable, and we’re really trying to focus on knowing our members, being involved.”