Every morning, she drags herself to the gym, no matter how she feels in the morning.
Her life literally wouldn’t be the same without her daily workouts at the Norfolk Family YMCA — it helps her cope with fibromyalgia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Deb said (name changed to protect privacy).
“It’s helped me to live my life the way I choose to live it,” she said. “I’m a person that likes to move around and keep busy and work hard; had I not had help from YMCA, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. I would’ve only been able to work a limited amount of hours.”
Deb — who declined to give her real name because she doesn’t want people to feel sorry for her — takes Zumba classes to keep her body loosened up and mobile, and uses weight machines for bone loss. Her daily workouts ensure she can do her work, which is in a physical labor occupation.
“I could go on disability or I can work. I choose to work,” she said. “Even though my fibromyalgia and COPD limit the number of hours I work, the hours that I do work are made possible by exercising every single day.”
Deb is one of many YMCA members whose lives are improved by its fitness classes and equipment, said Barb Preusker, YMCA marketing director and class instructor.
“She wouldn’t be able to keep moving if she didn’t keep moving,” Preusker said.
The new facility additions completed this year after a four-year capital campaign also are bringing more people in, she said, with memberships up by about 700 since April.
Preusker sees this increase in the Silver Sneakers class she teaches, which increases muscle strength and range of movement.
Attendance has increased by about five participants per class, even during the less busy summer season.
The new fitness class studio — on the second floor in the previous cardio and free weight space — provides much more room, newer equipment and higher ceilings for attendees.
The Norfolk YMCA also offers financial aid for those who need help paying for memberships, with help from organizations like the United Way. The YMCA receives $50,000 a year for financial aid and programming but gives out more than $100,000 in aid, Preusker said. And requests have gone up since the new addition.
“If we didn’t have the support of the United Way, we’d have to raise membership (costs) substantially or cut in other areas, which wouldn’t be good for anybody,” she said. “We want people to know we’re here to help. Some don’t know if you need help with a membership that we’re there and the United Way is there.”
To receive financial aid, people have to apply, provide tax documents and meet with the YMCA associate director to determine the best solution for their situation, Preusker said.
She provided foster parents as an example: Their foster children are able to be a part of activities like tee-ball, soccer and gymnastics thanks to financial assistance.
“To me, that’s what it’s all about: Giving everybody the opportunity to a good life, and good experiences in life,” Preusker said.
Being a part of the Norfolk Area United Way is a “privilege,” she said, and she urged Northeast Nebraskans to support the organization.
“I encourage anyone able to give back to their community, this is a good way to do it,” she said. “The United Way not only helps the YMCA, but many other organizations in this community.”