At the YMCA, there is “no rush”. For many members, they ease into a new routine, whether that’s for health reasons, or they just want to try out a new class or different workout equipment.
At the Whitaker Family YMCA, Amber Serres has helped many Y members through their personal journeys. Whether you go slow or you are more of a “jump in the deep end” type of personality – Amber’s there to help guide you to success… just as she’s been doing for the past two decades.
“When I moved to Lexington from Danville to attend UK, I quickly found the YMCA for classes,” Amber said. “My first class was with Whit Whitaker in the multi-purpose room, which at that time were the old racquetball courts, at the High Street Y.
“I loved it so much that I quickly applied and began working at the old South Lexington YMCA during my freshman year. So, the YMCA and my life in Lexington, the two are tied tightly together.”
Finding the Y upon arrival to Lexington wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who knows Amber. She’s always been active, and she swears she spent her childhood outside and only came in when it was raining. “Like many of us at the Y, I played lots of youth sports, and my first job at the age of 14 was with the local parks and recreation department – so moving into a Y job just fit.”
After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in family studies, Amber decided to continue making an impact at the Y. Today, she’s the operations director for healthy living and membership at the Whitaker Y, but has held many positions with the association, ranging from youth and adult sports, member services, personal training, swimming and kids’ corner.
“I love that the Y has enabled me to follow my interests and has supported me in whatever I chose to do,” Serres said. “Of course, the Y is also ever changing and it helped me become an open, go-with-the-flow, versatile person who is willing to jump in and help – to go where I’m needed.”
During the pandemic, the new need was to help members learn how to exercise virtually, from home using a laptop, tablet or phone. Serres dived right in to help build our digital program over the course of a few days.
“What an amazing opportunity this became,” Amber said. “Through the virtual classes instructors and members have come together to form and share a connection through this period of stay-at-home.
“Members have had the opportunity to try new classes and interact with different instructors. Personally, I have enjoyed getting to know new members from other branches, and getting to know what works for them as they workout at home,” she added.
When we asked Amber in what ways the Y has impacted her life, she spoke to the social and community element of our mission. “The friendships and connections I’ve made with staff through all the programs have stayed with me for many years – I greatly appreciate these people and the value they bring to my life.”
Amber’s passion in life fits nicely with the building of the virtual program to help members during this uncertain time, because helping others is what’s most important to her. “Doing something that makes someone else have a great day, well, that makes my day great also!”
When Amber thinks of the Y, community comes to mind first and foremost, then followed, not surprisingly, by exercise and support for others.
When we asked her for any last thoughts or words, well, they were for our members. “Thank you. Thank you for the patience and encouragement you all have shown us through this pandemic, and thank you if you stayed with us while we have been closed. Your support means so much to all of us.”
And thank you, Amber, for sharing your Y story with us, and we’ll see you teaching a class on a laptop or tablet sometime soon!