"Go forth into the busy world and love it. Interest yourself in its life, mingle kindly with its joys and sorrows." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
If a YMCA of Central Kentucky employee epitomized Emerson’s quote with the life she leads, it is probably Pam Carey, healthy living director at the C.M. Gatton Beaumont YMCA. Pam’s been teaching group fitness classes at that YMCA since 2003, but her Y story starts earlier, in 1998, at the James P. Gills YMCA in Trinity, Florida.
She loved teaching classes at that Y on the gulf coast of the sunshine state, but when her husband passed away, things changed quickly, and she experienced firsthand the impact the YMCA can have on a person’s life.
“When my husband died in 2000, the Y members came together to lift me up, and contributed to my two boys’ financial fund, who were four and five-years-old at the time,” Pam said. “A few years later the three of us moved back to Lexington, my hometown.
“Quickly after returning to Kentucky, I came into the Y, inquired about teaching group exercise classes, and Jeannie Thé and Debbi Dean hired me and I’ve been here ever since.”
Pam is direct and passionate about the people at the YMCA who are in her classes or she sees at the facility on a regular basis. “The Y is family to me,” she exclaims. “The association has supported me and enabled me to widen my fitness skills through programs that I have created and launched.
“So many people that I’ve crossed paths with here (at the C.M. Gatton Beaumont YMCA) have become lifelong friends, from members to staff – all walks of life – it is truly my second home.
“I can’t imagine being anyplace else,” she added.
Pam catches her breath and continues on about the influence of the YMCA of Central Kentucky on her, how it continues to add value and joy to her life, as it has since she was in Florida, 20 years ago.
“Every day my heart is warmed to see the smiles on the faces of so many members, and I know they’ve put one on my face, time-and-time-again,” Pam said. “As example, in 2016, 31 ladies from my group exercise classes threw me a bachelorette party before I remarried.
“Tom, the second love of my life, and his children were welcomed by all of these wonderful people into my ‘Y family’ as soon as we started dating,” Pam smiles widely as she shares this memory with us. “I cannot tell you how much this meant. Truly, it meant the world to me.”
Earlier in her life, Pam wanted to be a teacher, and she earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Kentucky. She taught for a couple of years in the Dallas, Texas school district, but “quickly found that my love was really for fitness.”
“I began my fitness career with the Richard Simmons Anatomy Asylums in Dallas when I was also teaching in 1982, and I’ve been leading classes and personal training sessions ever since then, with stops in Texas, Colorado, Florida, and of course, right here in Lexington.”
A little known fact about Pam is she’s also a great tennis player, having been a ranked ladies 4.0 doubles player in the 90s. Today though, she’s given up the courts for the trails, as she and Tom both love to hike, and she’s a baseball fan, thanks to her two boys love for the sport as they grew up.
We asked Pam what three things come to mind when we she thinks of the Y, and she’s quick to answer community, family, and impact.
But Pam’s not finished. She then ticks off three more things about the YMCA she loves. “First, I love helping members realize their health and wellness goals, working with them each step along the way.
“Second, as I mentioned, developing programs that members love, and watching them come to life.
“Finally, third – friendships,” Pam says emphatically. “I love the friendships I’ve made with so many people, and how far the YMCA of Central Kentucky has come to be recognized in the Lexington community as a place to come to form connections with others.”
We began this story with a quote from Emerson, and we’ll end with another: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Keep on living well, Pam.