Why to Choose the Y for Swim Lessons:

A YMCA of Broome County mom sat on the bleachers by the shallow end of the West Family Y pool watching her nearly-5-year-old daughter during swim lessons. She offered smiles and encouragement to her youngest, as she left the wall and swam to her instructor. The mom, a seasoned pro of the program, said they started their oldest in infant classes more than 10 years ago. Then she pointed to the deep end as she shared the swim successes of her older children, ages 10 ½ and 8 ½. They progressed from fearing the water to floating and enjoying the water. Over time, they gained the confidence they needed to master swim strokes and diving.


According to the ymca.net History post for 1900-1950’s the YMCA set a goal “to teach every man and boy in North America how to swim.” In 1909, George Corsan introduced a radical new method of instruction that included group lessons and new swim techniques to build confidence. The program proved so successful in Newark, N.J. alone, 800 boys learned to swim in just 4 weeks.


The site also mentioned, “Swim classes expanded throughout the century to include families and people with disabilities. In addition to helping youth feel safe around water, swim activities develop kids’ problem-solving abilities and bolster their self-esteem.”


The YMCA of Broome has embraced the YMCA swim campaign for decades. Countless adults, infants, preschoolers and children have learned to swim at the Binghamton and West Family Y, sometimes as many as 3, 4 or even 5 generations of the same family. Last year the YMCA of Broome County provided 164 participants who could not otherwise afford lessons, over $2,400 in financial aid to learn to swim.


Parents and grandparents offered these comments about YMCA swim lessons during a busy Thursday evening and Saturday morning session:


Mom of 9-year-old Sierra, who is enrolled in Intro to Competitive Swim, says: “She is acclimated to the pool and learning every stroke she needs to know. She is preparing to swim for her school.”


Several mentioned they enrolled children to learn water safety and possibly save their lives. Some families were planning vacations around water during Spring Break or in the summer. Others owned pools or ponds or visit friends with pools. They wanted their children safe and comfortable around water. Some wanted their children to learn to swim because of their own fear of the water and/or they had never learned to swim. 


One 4-year-old is “super-excited” after a second lesson.

“Learning to be fish”

“Getting more confidant!” “Took floaty off today for first time in 3 years!”  “Loves it!”


One family with boys 7 and 9 years old experienced “major accomplishments in 5 years of lessons.” Dad appreciates how the lesson times fit any schedule. He said most of their lessons had been at Binghamton but they switched to West Family to accommodate the rest of their activities.


Comments about the Instructors and Aquatics Director:

“Great instructors. Caring for younger children and able to challenge older kids!”

“Do a good job!











Norma Finds Years of Wellness, Friendship and Community at the YMCA of Broome County

Curiosity got the best of long-time YMCA member, Norma after receiving a birthday letter last year from the YMCA of Broome Count offering discounts on fee-based activities. The gregarious retiree joined the YMCA in April 2001. For years, she found a comfortable niche in the Rusty Hinges class, lap swimming and Wellness Center work-outs. The letter piqued her interest and sense of adventure. So, she spoke with YMCA Membership Director, Karen Berman about the options. She hoped to find something different and fun to change her routine. One choice really stood out, Adult Archery. Not only did Norma settle on the Monday evening Adult Archery last spring, she also convinced Karen and her husband to join the session as well!


Norma and Karen struck up a friendship that enhanced their YMCA and community connections during the weekly Archery classes. When planning for the very popular Trunk or Treat Community event, Karen knew she could count on Norma. The former school secretary and mother to 5 grown children, missed her “kids. She welcomed this opportunity to decorate her trunk and hand out candy to the costumed youngsters. She said the endless stream of families who turned out surprised and delighted her. She was trilled her candy lasted through the last trick-or-treater.


On Thursday, February 16th, the West Family YMCA held a Member’s Social. Karen Berman enlisted Norma’s help again with planning and set-up. Norma’s warmth and hospitality (which included a delicious homemade snack mix) helped the team create a welcoming atmosphere that morning. The event drew a mix: members and staff, veteran and new members, ages mid-thirties to decades-long retirees. If conversation, smiles and laughter measured outcome, the hour and a half was a hit. The lasting success will be determined by the connections made after members shared their YMCA stories. As the strangers engaged, each experienced a genuine sense of belonging. They left with feeling of community and friendship.


Norma said she finds life so much more rewarding through her volunteer efforts. She has contributed years office work and help to the Lourdes Hospital Diabetes program. She knows the toll of diabetes; she lost her husband to failing health brought on by his diabetes. She started coming to the YMCA the month after he passed away in 2001. Her children and grandchildren followed her example; they value opportunities to give back!


The YMCA of Broome County is very grateful for Norma and all the other volunteers who find their own special way to contribute to the YMCA. Every hour of effort enhances our efforts to strengthen and build our community.

Contact our staff if you would like to help the YMCA. There are so many ways to assist!!!

World Cancer Day February 4th

Harlan’s Livestrong Story

My name is Harlan. I am a colon cancer survivor.  My surgery and the 6 months of chemo treatments that followed, left me very weak.  I attempted exercising on my own, without much success.  Then, my wife saw a Livestrong brochure at the YMCA of Broome County. We read that this free program guided a group of cancer survivors through a monitored exercise program using the equipment and exercise classes at the Y. The goal was to increase endurance and physical strength over a twelve-week period. I signed up.

The first step into the program was meeting with a member of the staff at the Y and reviewing my personal health history. The final step required an approval from my doctor to participate. His okay allowed me to join the ninth YMCA of Broome County Livestrong class.

For three months, we met twice a week in two-hour Livestrong/YMCA Staff-monitored classes. The first session consisted of tests to determine our endurance, balance and strength. They used these results to determine the proper settings and/or initial weight load on each piece of equipment, both aerobic and weight machines. They trained us to use all the equipment in a safe manner, to prevent injury. Finally, they laid out a routine, starting with the aerobic machines, followed by the weight equipment. From week two on, we met as a group at the beginning to talk about any problems or concerns.  I valued these very therapeutic conversations with other cancer survivors. We felt safe in our cancer kinship; we experienced a mutual understanding of our situations and physical limitations. The staff at the Y was great at facilitating these sessions.  Then we broke and began our work-outs in the Wellness Center. We started and finished our routines on aerobic machines. I preferred the rowing machines and the stationary bicycles. Then we rotated through the weight equipment. The staff closely monitored us to ensure we setup these machines correctly and used them safely. We spent the final part of our class sampling the many group exercise classes offered at the Y. These classes were both pool and land-based. We tried floor-based Yoga and Pilates, as well as chair-based exercise routines. We found the water fitness classes lowered the impact on our joints, while adding water resistance. The staff retested us in our final class.  The improvement in our endurance, strength and balance amazed us!

I discovered many benefits from the Livestrong at the YMCA of Broome County:

  1. Financial hardships due to the cost of cancer treatments make affording a gym membership very difficult. Livestrong allowed each participant 12 weeks of unlimited membership at both the Binghamton and West Family YMCA of Broome Facilities.
  2. Going to a gym for the first time can be very scary. Livestrong gives you the support to enable you to conquer those fears.
  3. I was able to see tangible results from the exercise.
  4. I established good exercise habits that I still practice over 4 years later.
  5. I found such community, I joined the YMCA! My membership allows me to use all the exercise programs on a regular schedule. I have especially benefitted from the Core Strength, Yoga and Zumba classes.
  6. I built enough endurance, I also joined a hiking club.


The Livestrong program made me much stronger and healthier. I am very happy Livestrong helped me improve my quality of life!

Want more information about the YMCA of Broome County LIVESTRONG program for cancer survivors and their support person?

If you are interested in joining LIVESTRONG contact Sue at 770-9622 ext. 430


Heart Health Tips:


IMG_3902 IMG_3903Cliff’s healthy choices after the heart incident that severely damaged his heart, literally saved his life. He added physical exercise: first in the Cardiac Rehab Program and then through a lifestyle change of a regular exercise routine at the YMCA of Broome County.


He modified his diet to minimize and eliminate sodium. He added fresh food instead of processed foods.


Cliff also found community at the YMCA. Sharing coffee in the lobby after working out provided a social time that reduced stress and added fun.


Here are some other tips to help families be heart healthy:


February is American Heart Month, and as a leading community-based organization dedicated to improving the nation’s health, the YMCA of Broome County offers the following tips to help families in the Greater Broome County area be heart healthy.


  1. Get Physical: Being physically active every day is fun and can improve the function of your heart. Plan and schedule opportunities for active play; for example, include a brisk 10-minute trip around the block after meals or a 10-minute walking break during the day. If your family enjoys active video games, select versions that require moving the body’s large muscle groups while playing.


  1. Take a Snooze: Lack of sleep can be associated with elevated cholesterol and blood pressure. Adults need at least seven, but no more than nine hours of sleep at night to aid with the prevention of heart disease. Children need 10-12 hours of sleep per night. Develop bedtime routines for the whole family to assist with falling asleep faster and staying asleep.


  1. Shape Up Those Recipes: Makeover your family’s favorite recipes by reducing the amount of salt and saturated fat and substituting a lower fat food without sacrificing tastes. For example, use low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream and skip the seasoning packet and use pepper and olive oil instead. Read food labels to learn more about what is in the package, select foods that have less than 1,000 mg of sodium per serving.


  1. Feeling the Pressure: Per the American Heart Association lowering or maintaining normal blood pressure can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Nearly 1 in 3 adults (about 80 million people) has high blood pressure and more than half of them don’t have it under control. Start self-monitoring your blood pressure and know the numbers. Discuss the results with you doctor if needed.


  1. Play Together: Spending time together as a family is a great way to reduce stress, which is important to heart health. Make homemade valentines for your children’s classmates or build a snow fort together in the yard or the park.



For more information on how your family can live a healthy, active life, visit the YMCA of Broome County. Don’t forget to  where red the first Friday of February for Heart Health Awareness!


February: American Heart Month!


Twenty-eight days of hearts… Valentines, sweethearts, caring hearts and healthy hearts. February is American Heart Month. The YMCA of Broome County joins the national effort to improve heart health in the Greater Broome County Community.



Cliff, a YMCA of Broome County member, recently shared his heart story.


“I am not supposed to be alive.” Cliff stated matter-of-factly, “I graduated from Union Endicott High School in June of 1963 and joined the Navy for schooling. I served my country for four years and was honorably discharged in June 1967.”


He said he married in 1968. He and his wife, Barbara, have three children. They celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary this June.


He recalled helping a friend clean out his son’s flooded home during the fall of 2011 Flood. “I felt an ache in my left arm. I thought it was from over-working, but the pain continued. My wife finally had my son take me to my doctor. When he listened to my heart, he told me I needed to go to the hospital, immediately and called an ambulance. The doctors ordered x-rays that revealed a blocked artery. They also discovered I suffered a heart attack that blew a hole between the two left chambers of my heart. They performed open heart surgery the next day to patch the hole. I started cardiac rehab at General Hospital the following February.”


The cardiologist warned Cliff he would not make it without a heart transplant. Cliff countered, “This is my heart and I want to keep it!” So, in June, 2012, he was given a defibrillator pacemaker. He said, “It made a big difference in how I felt and what I was able to do.” He continued his cardiac rehab program. The staff there noticed immediate differences, especially how his color changed from ashen to a healthy tone.


Cardiac rehab cut their hours. “So, when my wife joined the YMCA, I also decided to become a member.” He found so much at the YMCA for his heart health, “I do a mile on the treadmill and three miles on the recumbent bike four days a week. I enjoy coffee and conversation after exercising.”


Cliff also modified his menu, “I am currently on a low/salt/no salt diet. I have learned to accept it. I find you can cook anything healthy, if you use fresh ingredients.”


With deep satisfaction, Cliff added, “I have surprised my cardiologist with the progress I have made.”


Debi’s 2017 Wellness Goal Gives Momentum for 2018!

Another January! Many people welcome the opportunity to push an annual reset button at the beginning of the New Year. They make resolutions and set goals for personal change and improvement. It takes real commitment to keep them for 12 months.


YMCA member, Debi, set a 2017 wellness goal at the end of 2016 after an unsettling doctor’s appointment. Her physician informed her that her A1C climbed to 11.5. Despite taking 2 oral meds to control her diabetes, the new high level now required insulin shots be added. Debi knew diet and weight played significant roles in the state of her health. She considered gastric bypass surgery. After factoring the serious risks immediately following the procedure, the tendency in time to regain all the weight lost (and often even more) and the life-long restriction from the aspirin/ibuprofen she needed for her arthritic pain, she left that option as a last resort. Though she failed many times in the past, she set a goal to lose 90 pounds in 2017.


Debi knew she could not accomplish this alone. She prayed for guidance and said the Lord helped her step by step. First, she enlisted the help of her doctor. He offered his support and sent her to a dietician. She worked closely with her and lost 25-30 pounds in the first three months through healthier eating. She used portion control and added fruits and vegetables. Then, she followed the suggestion of a friend and added exercise as the next step. They joined the YMCA of Broome Rusty Hinges water fitness class. Debi progressed and tried more advanced classes. She eventually settled into a routine that included the 6:30 a.m. Monday and Wednesday Aqua Interval class at the Binghamton facility and 8 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday Aqua Zumba at the West Family YMCA. She also appreciated the additional support and help she received from the YMCA Wellness Staff.


By May, Debi lost 50 pounds. Her doctor took her off one of her two blood pressure meds. Her A1C returned to a consistent level of 5.4-5.6, definitely in the good range. Her sugar levels continued to drop; she was weaned entirely off insulin. She got down to just one oral diabetes medication.


Debi’s quality of life also improved. Before her commitment to wellness, she was forced to give up her rigorous retail job and faced permanent disability. By sticking to her 2017 wellness goal, Debi gained confidence, new direction and stamina. She found a rewarding part-time job as a home-health aide. The increased energy also allowed her to better serve her community; she volunteered at the Y Trunk or Treat event and helps weekly at her church’s free Community Breakfast on Sundays. She noticed other changes…steps, sliding in a booth at a restaurant and behind the car steering wheel became so much easier!


Debi earned a celebration for reaching her 2017 goal; She lost 90 pounds! She gained 7 pounds through the holidays, but pushed reset for 2018. She will not allow her age (she turned 60 this past year) or setbacks deter her. Debi is aiming to weigh in at under 200 pounds (a weight she hasn’t seen in almost 35 years) and weaning off more prescriptions. She looks forward to adding to her workout routine…maybe an early morning classes in the Binghamton Branch’s Cycling Studio. She would love to regain the agility needed for working with the Children’s Ministry of her church. No matter what, 2018 is sure to be full of more health and wellness!

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Please, read Part 2 of Debi’s Success Story. She will offer some encouragement and helpful hints discovered last year. Age and lack of finances are not reasons for not trying! She found resources and morale support every step in her journey!

Part 2: Keeping Wellness Goals for the Whole Year: Debi’s Discoveries from 2017

Debi’s Discoveries from 2017


Hints, Helps and Insights


Debi began by weight loss by:

Cutting her usual portions in half

Eliminating most processed food. She traded chips and other “junk food” for fresh apples, squash and brussels sprouts. She also added chicken and fish, other seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables.

Counting out serving sizes listed on a box or bag and placing each serving in a Baggie. (Ex: if a serving was 25 pieces, she counted out 25 and put it in a Baggie) She returned all the Baggies to the original packaging and only ate one measured serving instead of finishing an entire box/bag.


Working with her physician: Debi’s primary care doctor proved invaluable; his monitoring and referrals made the impossible possible. She worked closely with an endocrinologist in his network and took diabetic classes at endocrinologist’s office and the mall. Her primary care doctor also sent her to a dietician. The dietician assisted Debi in assessing her diet and helpful hints to implement change. In the beginning, Debi logged everything she ate. The dietician also connected Debi with community programs/resources like VINE, RxFV and Farm Shares that provided fresh fruit and vegetables either directly or via vouchers.

Debi discovered:

*how to blanche and freeze foods to preserve their garden-freshness.

*ways to substitute higher fiber/lower calorie/vitamin-rich for standard choices. (ex…mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes)

*expanded her menu with new recipes that introduced her palate to tasty/new flavors, appealing/colorful presentations of meals and satisfying portions.


Healthy choices are available to all…no limits based on age or income:

Debi discovered:

*Though weigh loss can become more challenging with age (especially for woman over 50), it is not impossible. (Debi certainly proved it!)

*the YMCA offers financial assistance based on income

*her health insurance covered preventative wellness care that included her doctor visits, referrals and appointments with her dietician.

*the community provided help and free fresh food year-round to those with limited income and resources.



Wellness Works Best in Community:

Debi says, “Don’t go it alone!”

*joining the YMCA expanded the support and encouragement she already got from other friends and family. Getting in a regular routine made the workouts more fun and kept Debi accountable. Debi felt most comfortable in the smaller classes. The friendly YMCA staff and members become some of your best cheerleaders!

*”If you mess up, don’t let it defeat you.” After gaining 7 pounds over the holidays, Debi is resetting to her “Ground Zero.” She is once again writing down everything she eats. She continues to anticipate improved health and wellness in 2018: continued weight loss, elimination of more prescriptions, better endurance/mobility and sharing her experience to encourage others!


Celebrating Debi’s:  

*Healthy A1C

*Weight loss

*Fewer prescriptions

*New outlook and new career

*greater mobility and reduced pain

*greater community connections



The YMCA of Broome County invites YOU to add more Wellness in 2018 by joining the Y.





YMCA Benefits Seniors/Seniors Inspire the YMCA Community

YMCA of Broome member, Ed, quips with a hint of his wry humor, “It‘s better to wear out than rust out!”


Ed reaches a milestone birthday this year… 95 years old. He maintains an active Y membership. He swims at the West Family YMCA pool and/or works out in Wellness Center twice a week. The physical limitations that keep him from driving don’t deter him; if his daughter, Pat, can’t take him, he hops on the Castle Garden’s bus to get to the facility.


YMCA Trainer Sue noted, “Ed’s Wellness Workout card is dated September 2005. I have had the privilege of working with him  in the Wellness Center for close to 10 years. What an inspiration he is to not only me but to many of our other Y members. When they ask his age, their reaction is always, “Wow!” He is such a smart, sweet and funny man. He feels more like family to me than a Y member.”


Ed celebrates another milestone in 2018…his 80th anniversary of joining the YMCA. He reports that a YMCA was located right across from his high school in Camden, NJ. So he joined and started swimming there after school. He attended YMCAs in many other locations through the decades following. He values his years of YMCA of Broome County membership. He appreciates the way the staff and other members treat him. He says his favorite part about the Y is the exercise. He declared, “The Y helps me feel better mentally!”


The functional fitness and stamina Ed earned in his workouts was put to the test this summer. He went on a 3 week family vacation to Alaska that included travel by land, air and sea. He passed the test! He kept up with the busy itinerary, as well as anyone…and even better than some! He especially liked the cruise; he said they treated him like a king!


His daughter, Pat adds,”I just love the Y for how everyone looks out for him. I know he is safe and cared for there.”


The YMCA of Broome County is committed to serving the senior members of our community. Please check with the Welcome Desk or Membership Director, Karen Berman, for the latest details for membership. The YMCA connected with insurance providers and was able to work out some positive changes for 2018. See if/how these insurance changes impact your membership!

Join the YMCA Partnership with Broome County’s Homeless Coalition “No Freeze” Policy


The recent stretch of bitter cold has taken a toll on Broome County residents. The group most seriously impacted by the frigid temperatures is the homeless population. According to the National Weather Service, frostbite can occur in 30 minutes at 0 degrees with a wind speed of 15 mph. (wind chill temperature -19 degrees). The combined drop of temperature to below zero readings and an increase of wind gusts could create wind chill readings of -25 or below. Frostbite in these conditions happens in 10 minutes. Hypothermia, the body’s potential deadly response to cold that causes the body temperature to dip below 95 degrees, can cause memory loss, dizziness, incoherence, exhaustion and other symptoms.

IMG_3646 IMG_3647As a charitable organization with over 150 years of caring for men in need of support, the YMCA of Broome County has joined with other agencies in providing “No Freeze” beds for homeless men. YMCA Fund Development Officer, Dan Smith, says the YMCA of Broome County’s Downtown Binghamton facility also provides a shower, toiletries and a blanket to each overnight guest.


Community members may join in this lifesaving effort through donations of the following items:

Toiletries: soap, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc.

New/Gently Used Clothing items: especially socks, underwear, gloves, warm hats/face-mask stocking caps, scarves, long johns, winter coats and handwarmers.


Snacks: individual packs of crackers, chips, peanut butter or cheese and crackers, etc.


Donated items may be left at Broome County YMCA at 61 Susquehanna St, Binghamton, NY or the West Family YMCA at 740 Main St, Johnson City, NY.


Thank you for your kindness on behalf of those in critical need in these severe conditions.


1, 2, 3 Grow: Helping Toddler Discover the Fun in Fitness


The YMCA of Broome County is committed to providing wellness options for the entire community, from the youngest to the oldest members. The 1 2 3 Grow held in the West Family YMCA  gym offers preschoolers, age 3 and under, and their parents (or grandparents) a session filled with fun, fitness and socialization. The 45 minutes class includes just enough structure to encourage a healthy release of pent-up winter wiggles in a safe, positive environment.



A mid-December visit to the Thursday 10:15 a.m. class gives a peek into what the class offers:


“Round and round. That’s the game! What’s your name?”  sang Miss Heather, the 1 2 3 Grow teacher. She smiled warmly and pointed to Annie during the opening 1,2,3, Grow circle time. Annie danced with delight when Miss Heather said Annie’s name with her. Then Miss Heather pointed to the next child and the next. Each of the 7 little faces lit up when his or her turn came.


Before class, Miss Heather set up mats, a tunnel, balls, spinners, hula hoops and other equipment through-out the West Family YMCA gym. As the tots arrived, they eagerly gravitated to their favorites.  Annie chose the spinner; her 8-month-old sister cooed as she did some tummy-time with 3 hula hoops. TJ and his dad tossed a mini basketball.


Through the entire 45-minute class, Miss Heather balanced structured and unstructured activities. After circle time, they gathered for a hula hoop set. She directed the children to roll the hoops, set them on the floor, step in them, step out of them, jump in/jump out, put the hoops over their head and drop them. She stacked 6 to create a little “hut” for one or two. Some of the children carefully followed the simple instructions, others felt free to explore nearby activities and equipment.


Heather kept the 7 toddlers ranging in age from 8 months to 3 years old, physically engaged the entire 45 minutes. She varied the activities and used simple, fun words to introduce each. During a set using a 3 foot-wide “track” of mats stretching across half the width of the gym, Miss Heather asked the tots to “march” down the line. Then she challenged them to: hop, run fast, gallop, crawl, bear crawl, roll. She helped them climb up and slide down a foam wedge in the middle of the track.



They closed with another short circle time and sang, “The more we get together, the happier we’ll be. Your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends…” Miss Heather “high-fived” with each child. Apparently “the more we get together” caught on; everyone eagerly pitched in with putting the equipment away.


Parents and grandparents offered positive comments about the session:

Annie’s mom says they have come since she was an infant and now they come with her baby sister.


TJ has been coming about 6 months and loves it.


1 year old Matt finally got brave enough to do the tunnel. The gym time has helped him interact, become braver and more adventurous.


One of the grandmas said she appreciated the interaction with other grandparents. She said her grandson loves the ride-on toys and stickers.


Another parent mentioned how much they appreciate the socialization and the cooperation within the group…everyone is sensitive and supportive.


Everyone mentioned how much they appreciate Heather. She creates a fun, structured lesson plan for each class, but is flexible with the routine. She allows the children freedom to explore.


The Thursday 10:15 a.m. class restarts in mid January…it offers preschoolers a positive first experience in discovering the fun in YMCA fitness classes!



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