Monroe County YMCA Blog

Bloomington, Indiana

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Keep Your Kids Healthy During National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Did you know that September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month? According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, three in 10 children in the United States are classified as overweight or obese. That’s 31% of US kids who are between 10 and 17 years old.

Here at the Monroe County YMCA, we strive to keep the community—especially your kids—as healthy as possible. Since we’re focusing on youth health this month, we want to give you a few tips and tricks that you can incorporate into your daily life to help your family live healthier together:

Eat & Drink Healthy: Make water the drink of choice, and encourage everyone to fill half of their plates with fruits and vegetables. As a family, choose a new fruit and veggie to try together every week. You can even place a full pitcher of water on the table during meals, and encourage your kids to stay hydrated and be responsible by pouring their own glasses of water.


Play Every Day & Go Outside: Kids should have at least one hour of play outside each day, if the weather allows it! They should also partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous physical activity three or more days each week. To make it a fun family affair, join your children in games that get your hearts pumping and bodies moving.

Get Together: Eat as a family as often as you can. Involve kids in meal planning, preparation, and clean up. Parents, you should also take a break from electronics and spend one-to-one time with your kids during mealtimes—enjoy their company at each stage of their childhood!


Reduce Recreational Screen Time: Time spent in front of a television, computer, tablet, cell phone, or video games should be limited to two hours or less per day. Make a family plan to reduce screen time at home. You can turn off screens during meals, charge electronics in the kitchen overnight, go for an evening walk, or set a timer to remind you to power down the screen.

Sleep Well: Kids and adults need to keep a regular sleep schedule; unwind together in the evenings by reading a book or listening to soft music to ensure the body is preparing for a great night of rest. Kids are growing constantly, so they need 10-12 hours of sleep per night. Parents, make sure you’re getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night as well.

Family Stroll

In addition to these tips, we have a wealth of Youth Programs that are offered at the Y. From Youth Sports to Friday Night Fun, we’ve got something for each of your kiddos to enjoy. Check out our website for more information, or give us a call at (812) 332-5555.

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Reach Success by Reframing New Year’s Resolutions

As you change your calendar from December to January, there’s always a bit of a thrill in the promise of a new year that’s full of potential. The New Year is chance to start fresh and say goodbye to any of the frustrations the previous year held—a perfect opportunity to make resolutions that will help strengthen one’s spirit, mind, and body.

However, many of us find our resolutions thrown out along with the holiday decorations. It’s no wonder—starting the New Year by making sweeping cuts to our diets and declarations that we’ll hit the gym seven days a week doesn’t exactly set us up for success! But by reframing resolutions and breaking them down into smaller, easy-to-sustain goals you’ll see big benefits in the long run.

As a community-serving organization here in Monroe County, we see how things such as getting involved with the community and making lifestyle changes can change someone’s life for the better. Here are five New Year’s Resolutions the Monroe County YMCA recommends for 2018:        

  1. Move More: It’s important for children to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day (30 minutes for adults). Incorporate physical activity into your daily routines and spend more time walking to places instead of driving to improve your health and well-being.

  2. Swap a Soda a Day: It may be difficult, but cutting soda can do wonders for your body. If you can’t cut it entirely, resolve to swap one soda a day for a large glass of water instead. Once you’ve been able to swap one out, see if you can cut soda entirely.

  3. Schedule Family-Time: With work, school, and activities family-time may seem like an impossible ask, but see if your family can have a “screen-free” night with no phones, video games, etc. Instead, use that time to play a board game, play outside, or visit with family and friends.

  4. Volunteer Your Time: Giving back and supporting neighbors can benefit everyone involved. Not only is it a personally rewarding experience to help others in need, but it’s also a way to meet new people or discover an interest. Find an opportunity in your community, such as reading to children at the library or distributing food at a local food bank.

  5. Put Extras to Good Use: Do you have extra canned goods or clothes that could benefit others in need? Clean out your pantry, closet or attic and donate extra items to homeless shelters or community outreach programs.

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If You Give a Girl a Goal

IMG_4585 retouchedSofi Yandt’s first memory of the Y was over 10 years ago — a memory she calls one of the best she has experienced during her time here. As a six-year-old, Sofi remembers participating in the Y-Triathlon summer camp with her brother. Little did she know, those times were where her Y journey was just beginning.

Throughout her early teens, Sofi has found herself volunteering at numerous Y events and as a camp counselor for the Southeast and Northwest Y’s. More currently, Sofi has become a staff member of Play and Learn where she cares for children of all ages. While Sofi has enjoyed her time working with children in summer camp and Play and Learn, she decided to direct her Y journey in a way that would benefit her now and in the future – working with a personal trainer.

Sofi, a sophomore at Bloomington High School South, wanted to up her game in anticipation of joining the high school’s volleyball team next year. That’s why she hopes working with her personal trainer will help her reach her goal. “I wanted to start working with a personal trainer to strengthen my agility on the volleyball court. As someone who plays backrow, there is a lot of defense, passing, and moving to wherever I need to be to hit the ball, so having a quick reaction time is important to me.” Going into her sessions, her trainer knows what she needs to work on, so each session, her trainer brings what Sofi needs to the table in order to succeed. Sofi admits she noticed a difference right away. Open gyms got easier, and her reaction time got quicker — a goal that has made a difference in the way she plays.


A common question Sofi gets asked is if utilizing a personal trainer is intimidating. While some trainers are bigger, stronger, and more experienced, she believes that working with someone who has an extensive knowledge of health and fitness allows her to feel comfortable and more confident in the way she completes her workouts. “Don’t be intimidated by a personal trainer! No matter what age you are, your trainer is going to push you, help you succeed, and guide you in reaching whatever goal you have set for yourself.”

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If You Get to Know Your Neighbor

JeffJeff is used to a routine. He takes the same bus every day and works the same hours every week for the Bloomington Olive Garden. The Monroe County YMCA is also a crucial piece of his routine. In 2008, Jeff transitioned into independent living, requiring fewer services from Stone Belt, a service provider for individuals with developmental disabilities, and a service that provided a YMCA membership. Due to his independent living status, Jeff lost his membership to the Y.

As an individual with autism, Jeff finds comfort in a predictable routine. Suddenly, his routine had been interfered with, making him very upset and distressed that he could no longer enjoy a huge part of his weekly routine. Thanks to the Y for All Annual Campaign, Jeff was awarded with a Y membership of his own!

Not only does Jeff understand that his regular visits to the Y help him stay fit, he also keeps in account how grateful he is to have been able to keep his membership. When asked what his favorite part about working at Olive Garden is, he answered, “I get paid!” Jeff is proud to be in a position that allows him to pay a portion of his membership dues – and not to mention, his weekly workouts at the Y make him a stronger competitor in the Special Olympics!

DYK? A donation to the Y for All Annual Campaign helps members, like Jeff, gain access to the Y! Learn more about Y for All and how you can start making a difference in the Monroe County community today!

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Lifelong Friendship Blossoms at the Y

Logan and ColeCole is from Phoenix, Arizona. Logan is from Bloomington, Indiana. Ten years ago, the two young boys were enrolled in the same gymnastics camp at the Monroe County YMCA. Ten years later, they’re visiting on the set of a Broadway Musical where Cole is performing in The Newsies. 

At the age of six, the two became fast friends – like children do. But they never imagined a friendship blossoming that would continue years later. Throughout the years, Cole has become a State Champion in Arizona, a National Champion, and has gone on to perform in Europe. Recently, Cole performed in his first professional performance on Broadway – and, of course, Logan was there in the crowd to show his support.

From Summer Camp at the Monroe County YMCA to Broadway Musicals, Cole and Logan have maintained their long distance friendship, including annual summer trips to Bloomington where Logan and Cole spend a great deal of time together.

Connections formed at the Y are genuine. So, give your neighbor a minute, and maybe you’ll be in the crowd of their first big break in ten years! #ForABetterUs


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Priscilla Barnes: The Y is Why

As a personal trainer and fitness instructor with the YMCA, as well as being an assistant professor of Applied Health Science for IU, Priscilla Barnes knows how to move you. With all of her training, she knows exactly what to do to make her class participants move faster, jump higher, sweat more, and love doing it.

But when the group ex instructors were all encouraged to raise funds for Y For All through sponsorships of the annual Fit Fest event, Priscilla was reluctant. She was even a little fearful, at first, to ask friends, family members, and strangers for a financial contribution. There was some uncertainty about how to present the information and a desire to not come across like a salesperson, but she did it anyway.

Priscilla sitting“I stepped out of my comfort zone because I was amazed by what a donation could provide for a child or an adult who were unable to participate in Y activities and services. Sharing this information with my sponsors made a difference because they knew how their financial contribution was going to help our community! My uncertainty about fundraising quickly dissipated especially when you live in a compassionate and giving community.”

“Our organization is very blessed to have amazing instructors and participants that want to do better and be better – mind, body, and spirit. I want to be a part of this experience every chance I can get.”

The money we raise during our Annual Campaign goes to a number of different areas, all aimed at strengthening the foundations of our community.

We make sure 100% of your contribution stays in your community. Last year, the Y provided over $120,000 of support to more than 650 families and individuals in the Monroe County community. You may not know it, but your donation might be helping someone in your group exercise class afford a membership. It might be helping your friend’s child play youth soccer or attend summer day camp. It might be providing a family the help they need to stay connected.

Every gift makes a difference.
Everyone has a role to play.
Together, we can achieve so much more.

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Meet Kevin Vail – Membership Director

kevin-vailKevin Vail, Membership Director for the Monroe County YMCA, has family on his mind. Not his own, though. (Although newly engaged, starting his own family with his fiancé Jesse might only be a few years away!) No, the family Kevin has on mind is yours, the family that makes up the YMCA community. His goal as Membership Director is to learn how he can use his years of experience in the hospitality industry to serve that family better.

Kevin joined the Y’s team in September 2016 after 7 years at the local Bloomington Country Club.  While he felt good about what he was able to accomplish while with the BCC, Kevin felt a drive to serve a broader and more diverse community.

Growing up in Valparaiso, Indiana, Kevin had always felt a personal connection to his childhood YMCA. He recalled fond memories of learning how to swim and after school basketball at the Y, so when the Membership Director position became available, he couldn’t help but feel a natural fit.

In his short time here, Kevin has had the opportunity to observe first-hand why members and staff alike feel the Y is more than a Gym.  He is excited to have the opportunity to educate and engage new members and in his words, “remove any barriers to using the Y”. It is his goal to make our members feel as he did when he was that young kid in Valparaiso using his neighborhood YMCA: welcomed, important, and connected.

That’s the key to building a community, a family.