My Love Affair with YMCAs.

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I visited my first YMCA in 2018 after relocating to Canada and it was love at first sight. The YMCA offers a variety of services such as health and fitness facilities, immigrant services for newcomers, youth camps, child care services, employment services, and various youth programs. The array of services offered by the YMCA is very impressive and my YMCA membership card is one of my most prized possessions. I use the Ys health and fitness facility a lot to train and exercise daily, the YMCA has also been a great avenue to meet people within the community and become a better citizen. To say that I love the YMCA is an understatement, I am always trying to proselytize to anyone who cares to listen to the value of having a YMCA membership card.

I spend an average of 2-3 hours using the YMCA fitness facilities daily across multiple sports such as weightlifting, indoor running, pickleball, basketball, swimming, badminton, ping pong, volleyball, etc. The YMCA is a sanctuary that has afforded me the ability to participate in a variety of sports that I never thought I would be engaged in, some five years ago. With a gym facility and a vast network of locations, I am always looking for an opportunity to use a new YMCA facility. The Canadian YMCA has over 1,700 locations across the country and I have tried to visit as many YMCAs as I can in any community where I find myself. With a YMCA membership card, you can visit and use the services offered by other sister YMCA branches.

About the YMCA

The Young Men’s Christian Association also known as the YMCA or the Y is a worldwide youth organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, with more than 64 million beneficiaries in 120 countries. Founded in London in 1844, the YMCA is one of the largest and oldest youth organizations in the world. The organization has nearly 90,000 staff, some 920,000 volunteers, and 12,000 branches worldwide. YMCA is a non-governmental federation, with each independent local YMCA affiliated with its national organization.

  • Vision: A world where every person lives in harmony with self, with society, and with creation.
  • Mission: To empower young people and communities worldwide to build a just, sustainable, equitable, and inclusive world, where every person can thrive in body, mind, and spirit.
  • Pillars of Impact: Community Wellbeing, Meaningful Work, Sustainable Planet, Just World

 Local YMCAs deliver projects and services focused on youth development through a wide variety of youth activities, including providing athletic facilities and holding classes for a wide variety of skills.

The YMCA has been instrumental to the success of many celebrities such as Denzel Washington who found his life calling while working as a camp counselor at the Camp Sloane YMCA in Connecticut and Elon Musk, who went from showering at the local YMCA to becoming one of the richest men in the world.

In his 2011 University of Pennsylvania commencement address 1, Academy Award-winning and Tony Award-winning actor and director, Denzel Washington delivered an inspiring speech about the power of failing forward, taking risks, and the non-linearity of life. He shared the story of how he found his calling from a question he asked by a fellow counselor. He reminisced:

Sometimes it’s the best way to figure out where you’re going. Your life will never be a straight path.

I began at Fordham University as a pre-med student. That lasted until I took a course called “Cardiac Morphogenesis.”  I couldn’t pronounce it… and I couldn’t pass it. Then I decided to go pre-law. Then journalism. With no academic focus, my grades took off in their own direction: down. My GPA was 1.8 one semester, and the university very politely suggested it might be better to take some time off.  I was 20 years old, at my lowest point.

And then one day—and I remember the exact day: March 27th, 1975—I was helping out in the beauty shop my mother owned in Mount Vernon.  An older woman who belonged to my mother’s church, one of the elders of the town, was in there getting her hair done and kept giving me these strange looks. She finally took the drier off her head and said something to me I’ll never forget:

“Young boy,” she said. “I have a spiritual prophecy: you are going to travel the world and speak to millions of people.”

Like a wise-ass, I’m thinking to myself: “Does she got anything in that crystal ball about me getting back to college in the fall?” But maybe she was on to something. Because later that summer, while working as a counselor at a YMCA camp in Connecticut, we put on a talent show for the campers.  After the show, another counselor came up to me and asked:

“Have you ever thought of acting? You should. You’re good at that.”

When I got back to Fordham that fall I changed my major once again —for the last time. And in the years that followed—just as that woman getting her hair done predicted—I have traveled the world and I have spoken to millions of people through my movies.  Millions who—up ‘till today—I couldn’t see while I was talking to them.

Taking a risk is not just about going for a job. It’s also about knowing what you know and what you don’t know. It’s about being open to people and ideas.

The Richest man in the world and Serial Entrepreneur Elon Musk highlighted the impact of the YMCA on his path to building his first business in his 2014 University of Southern California Commencement Speech. 2 He remarked:

The first thing is – you need to work. Depending upon how well you want to do, and particularly if you’re starting a company, you need to work super hard. So what does super hard mean?

Well, when my brother and I were starting our first company instead of getting an apartment we just rented a small office and we slept on the couch; We showered at the YMCA, and we were so hard up we had just one computer, so the website was up during the day and I was coding at night, seven days a week, all the time. I briefly had a girlfriend during that period and in order to be with me she had to sleep in the office. So work hard, like, every waking hour.

That’s the thing I would say – particularly if you’re starting a company. If you do the simple math, say that someone else is working 50 hours and you’re working 100, you’ll get twice as much done in the course of a year as the other company.

Instead of getting an apartment we just rented a small office and we slept on the couch; We showered at the YMCA

In the last two years, I have participated in fifteen full marathons; six in 2022 and nine in 2023. One of my favorite things to do in any city I run is to use the local YMCA and visit the public library. The YMCA membership card and the public library card are two of my most prized possessions. The YMCA is a sanctuary where I work on my fitness level and the public library is one of my favorite places to visit. Some of my favorite YMCAs are the locations that are very close to the public library such as the Saddletowne YMCA in Calgary and the Mississauga Downtown YMCA. What can beat, crossing the street after reading a great book to work on your fitness in a local YMCA gym? The YMCA has been very instrumental in my personal development and I always wish there were more YMCA locations anywhere I am.

I visited and used at least 20+ YMCA gym facilities across Canada and I am always looking forward to visiting YMCA locations. I visit the YMCAs because I love the values upon which the YMCAs are built and I want to build a community-based gym facility and public libraries across the continent of Africa. One of the most important lessons have learned from reading the biographies of highly successful people is the impact sport played on their lives and the value of a strong community. As the saying goes “It takes a community to raise a child.” The YMCA is one of such community that foster the growth and development of young people.


  • Daily Calm with Tamara Levitt – Minimalism
  • We live in a culture that encourages us to consume, buy, and own. There is some joy in acquiring something new, but the satisfaction doesn’t last and it doesn’t lead to real happiness. If consumerism led to happiness, we would leap into joy every time we open our closet. Acquiring more things doesn’t lead to happiness and it can lead to more stress.
  • Our mental state is influenced by our environment, a cluttered home can result in a cluttered mind. Simplifying and minimizing our living space may help us experience greater clarity and tranquility. Minimalism suggests that most of us spend far too much time and energy focused on material things which distract us from the relationships and undertakings that matter.
  • The idea of minimalism is not to get rid of all our belongings or seize consumption altogether. Minimalism proposes that we clear out the excess clutter and unnecessary consumption so that we can focus on the things in our lives that are important.

Love People, Use Things: Because the Opposite Never Works – Joshua Fields Millburn 

  • Daily Jay with Jay Shetty – Self-Affirmation
  • Affirmations can make you more accepting and compassionate about who you already are and they can help you become who you want to be, they can boost your confidence, and mood, support your effort to build better habits, and even combat stress.
  • Affirmation works when it aligns with your authentic beliefs about who you are, what you value, and what you think that you can achieve. Remind yourself of your value in other areas of your life which enables you to reset your mindset, lift your spirit, and balance out the negative. Affirmations are about affirming that you are already enough, wherever you are right now.
  • Affirmations are not a replacement for working through the root of any fears or anxiety. But they can be extremely helpful if you are looking to reduce negative feelings and gain the confidence to take steps towards achieving your goals.
  • Daily Trip with Jeff Warren – Unfixate
  • Meditation is an internal balancing act, it’s finding your own sweet spot. The meditation teacher Peter Russell likes to say it is actually the job of some thoughts to be very insistent, it comes from basic survival. You don’t want to leisurely let go of your fixation and move when you are about to be steamrolled by a bus. The problem is that we tend to bring fixated thinking to every part of our lives including areas that may not need it.
  • We can practice backing up from our fixations, ideally making space for a little more ease, and natural creativity.Jeff Bezos: Amazon and Blue Origin | Lex Fridman Podcast #405


  • Jeff Bezos: Amazon and Blue Origin | Lex Fridman Podcast #405

All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

Lifelong Learner | Entrepreneur | Digital Strategist at Reputiva LLC | Marathoner | Bibliophile |

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