When you walk into the new Midway YMCA building, one thing stands out: if it weren’t for the uniforms and name tags, you would be hard-pressed to differentiate between the staff and the members. They blend in so seamlessly because of the way that the two groups interact. There are no impersonal “sirs” and “ma’ams;” rather, everyone seems to know each other by first name and stops to chat. That is a huge change of pace from other fitness centers and clubs.
Although the building is new, that atmosphere is not. David Dominick, district executive director of the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, says that has always been the case. The members at the Midway Y are more like old friends and family than customers. It is a relationship that has always made communication easy. The members suggest changes to the staff, and the staff will check in with members when regulars are suddenly absent, an action that springs from genuine interest and caring for their well-being.
That communication was a huge part of the planning process in the new building. For nearly 15 years, Midway residents and YMCA staff have been working to get a new building. Various things threw a wrench in the plans, but the members and staff were very dedicated. These members, who could have left for a newer fitness club, wanted to see the project through. For them it was more than just a club – the Y is a pillar of the Midway community. Because of that dedication, the new building was largely customized to their needs and suggestions.
The Y’s service to the community is so much more than just appealing to paying members. Outside of the fitness classes and workout areas, the members and staff are so much more connected to the Midway Y. On the last night the old building was open, members were invited to come in for a number of activities to honor the memories and good times at the Y. They were asked to write positive memories on the walls about their time. Those memories made it clear that this had been more than just a place to get in shape. The Midway Y had shaped lives.
This connection has been shown throughout the years at the Midway YMCA, from the constant efforts to get a new building and the role members played in its design to the huge crowds attending the ribbon cutting ceremony. The Midway YMCA is more than a place for families and the community to gather; it is a place to create memories.