YMCA Staff Spotlight: Bob Johnson

Why are you at the YMCA of Central Kentucky? Training for an Ironman? Want to shed a few pounds before heading to the beach? Visit the Y often to play a game of pick-up basketball? Maybe because you coach your son or daughter in soccer?

How about because you are a cancer survivor fighting for your life?

In 2010, Bob Johnson, member engagement coordinator at the North Lexington Family YMCA, was working at the customer service desk at Meijer when he was diagnosed with head and neck cancer. After he fought and beat the disease, he came to this facility as a participant in the pilot group for LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, a 12-week wellness program for survivors. 

“It was then that I fell in love with the place and the people,” Bob told us for this Y story. “So, when my class graduated, I asked for a job and I’ve been working here for nine years.

“Over time, I have moved from the member services desk to teaching in the wellness center, the exercise studio and the pool,” he said. “The Y has helped me get the education and experience I need to become an exercise instructor and personal trainer. I am now the head coach of the LIVESTRONG program, where I help other survivors find their lives again after cancer.”

Bob’s attitude is infectious, and his big booming voice is welcoming to all at “North”. His love for his job is obvious to any and all. “Working at the Y is the best job I’ve ever had,” Bob shared. “There is not a day that I do not look forward to coming to work, welcoming members and helping them along on their personal wellness journey. 

“The Y has given me a cause and a purpose that keeps me growing and learning every day. I’ve had other jobs that I loved, but I’ve never found one so meaningful and rewarding.”

The members and co-workers at the Y are who Bob focuses on, and he appreciates each one for him or herself. “I am blessed by the company of seniors, children, parents, athletes and retirees. I work with homeless people and millionaires. My colleagues are some of the most committed professionals I’ve ever known; and in the time I’ve been associated with the Y, I’ve never had a bad boss!”

Bob was born in Pittsburgh, PA and grew up during the glory days of the “Steel Curtain” Steelers. Bob studied acting in college, and his profession took him across the country to Hollywood, Broadway and regionally as both an actor and stagehand. 

“However, I was married to a Kentucky girl at the time, and eventually she had enough of the big city and we decided to move back to Lexington. I’ve never looked back,” he shared.

When not at the YMCA, Bob enjoys being in the woods and mountains around Central and Eastern Kentucky, and loves all animals. “I keep finches and parakeets at home,” Bob said.

When we asked Bob what he’s truly passionate about, and what excites him about his job, this is what he shared, “My father taught me that service is the highest calling a person can have. I believe that we are here to help one another to find the best in ourselves and each other.

“I believe in stewardship of all that God has given us. We are so richly blessed by the diversity and energy of our neighborhood in North Lexington. The Y has deep roots here, and I rarely go out of my home without seeing someone from the Y.

Bob added, “And, once I’m here, I get to share the struggle as my neighbors discover strength that they never knew they had.

“I can’t imagine a better job in the world.”

Bob, we are blessed to have you as a colleague and a friend. Thank you for all you do for the YMCA of Central Kentucky.