Build a Healthy Spirit, Mind & Body at the YMCA









Dear Fond du Lac Family YMCA Members,

Thank you for your membership and support of our organization.  I wanted to take some time to send out a letter about the planned changes to Studio 4.

As you know, the mission of the YMCA is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that develop a healthy spirit, mind and body for all of our members.  In order to carry out that mission, the Y is constantly listening to the needs of the community and diligently working to understand better ways to support and build a healthier community.

Over the past year the Y invested nearly 1 million dollars in upgrades to our facilities, equipment, systems, and more, thanks in no small part to our membership and donor investments.  In addition to these physical changes, we have also invested in operational changes to make access to our facility and programs safer and easier for all.  All of these upgrades and improvements have driven us towards our goal to best serve our membership and our community.

One of the upcoming changes involves investing in group exercise Studio 4.  Those changes are in an effort to make the fitness experience more inviting for all.  By making these changes, we feel we can help more people in the community reach their overall goals by becoming healthier in spirit, mind and body, which ultimately leads to building a healthier community.

In order to best serve all of our members and the diversity of needs, our intention is to convert Studio 4 into a true spirit, mind and body studio.  We won’t be changing any regularly scheduled classes, but rather improving the experience through evidence-based design changes to the studio.

With this new studio design we can start to address barriers to fitness that some of our members face, such as mental health issues.  At any given time somewhere between 20-25% of adults are being impacted by a mental health challenge.  In many cases, those who struggle with those challenges are not comfortable in our current Y setting and as a result suffer from poor health.  We think we can change that.

So what do those design changes look like?  The changes being made to Studio 4 will include:

  • Adding curtains so class participants feel a sense of privacy from the traditional Wellness Center
  • Creating soft lighting options
  • Installing functional, decorative cabinetry for equipment storage and seating
  • Removing the mirrors in Studio 4 in order to make the room more welcoming to everyone
  • Relocating equipment in the stretching area for safety and reduction of noise distractions

The Y realizes that experienced exercisers use the mirrors to check their form and position, therefore, we did not consider removing mirrors from any other location within the Y. Studio 4, however, is being modified with intention to accommodate anyone who wants to start to regain their health. One important aspect of that is removing barriers to fitness, which includes mirrors.

One of our staff members summed up best what our Y is attempting to do by removing the mirrors, when stating the following:

“I worked in mental health services for 15 years before working at the Y.  My specific population that I served was Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, PTSD and Body Dysmorphic Syndrome.  I can tell you from experience, mirrors can be a huge barrier for many individuals who focus on outward appearance.  It is hard to work on the inside when you are focused on the outside.  These individuals are all around us and often suffer in silence.  THIS IS HUGE!  This will impact so many people in such a positive way.  I am so proud to be a part of an organization taking a leap of faith for a bigger picture.”

I have included in this letter an article that references research around the negative impact mirrors have in a workout facility.  The article comes from Psychology Today and is titled, “Mirror, Mirror in the Gym.”

In closing, I understand the frustration some of our current members who use the mirrors in Studio 4 are feeling.  Change is sometimes hard, so in order to help navigate that change, I would like to open the conversation by inviting you to schedule a time to walk and tour the Y with me, to see and hear the bigger picture about how we are trying to change the overall health of the entire community.

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to call me at the Y at 920-921-3330 x 313.  I encourage you to schedule a time to tour the Y with me to see the positive impact we are making on the community and how we are all helping.

Yours in Service,

Greg Giles 

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