Akron Area YMCA joins cohorts around country in Reset New Year Challenge

Participants urged to take steps to improve mind, body, spirit

Phil Keren
Kent Weeklies

The Akron Area YMCA is joining with other YMCAs around the nation in an initiative encouraging people through weekly text messages to engage in activities that boost their mind, body and spirit.

Judi Christy, director of marketing and communication for the Akron Area YMCA, said her organization is joining with about 150 other YMCA associations around the country to offer the Reset New Year Challenge, which officially kicks off Feb. 1 and runs for six weeks.

While the initial registration period for this new program ran from Jan. 15-30, Christy said people are welcome to sign up at any time during the next six weeks.

Christy noted the Cincinnati YMCA last fall started a program called "Strong"  which attempted to address issues such as  "how do we get people back on track, how do we get people still engaged, and still getting out and moving, being motivated, being positive."

She noted the Cincinnati YMCA tried to get the Akron Area YMCA to join the "Strong" program, but local officials declined while they continued to navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With some YMCAs around the country still not reopened due to the pandemic, Christy said the organizations were interested in offering a program "that would kick off with the new year and get people to reset [and] get motivated with their spirit, mind and body."

The Reset New Year Challenge is open to everybody, not just YMCA members. Those interested in signing up can text the word "reset" to 855-535-9622.

Participants can also register by visiting akronymca.org/reset.

After signing up, participants will be asked to answer a few questions, including whether they are a YMCA member and if they would prefer receiving messages via text or email. They will also be asked for their T-shirt size.

"If they complete the six-week challenge, which is basically going to be on their honor, then they can bop into their closest Y and pick up a T-shirt that says they completed the challenge," said Christy.

Participants will receive two to three messages per week offering a suggestion on what they could do to improve their mind, body and/or spirit. They are challenged to dedicate 150 minutes per week for six weeks to do something to "reset your spirit, mind and body to get centered, to progress through the rest of this year," said Christy.

Each of the six weeks has a theme. Week one is "reset," week two is "refresh," week three is "reconnect," week four is "replay," week five is "reinvest" and the final week is "restore."

For the "replay" theme, a text or emailed message might ask the participant when they last played tag or hopscotch, and then perhaps encourage them to revisit the games with their children.

"Try to do [one of those games] for 30 minutes and then post a picture, let us know how it makes you feel, how it makes your kids feel," said Christy.

For the "reconnect" theme, a participant may be encouraged to call an old friend on the phone and catch up.

"It's just reconnecting with the lighter side of things and getting your heart in the right place," said Christy.

She emphasized that participants can chart their own course on how they want to go about strengthening their mind, body and spirit.

Those participating in the Reset New Year Challenge are encouraged to share their exercises and other activities on a Facebook page called StrongLife Community.

She added people are already posting on StrongLife Community and talking about what they're doing to improve their body, mind and spirit.

"It is really this dynamic, positive group of people," said Christy. "It kind of makes folks feel like they're not just out here doing it on their own."

Noting that the Akron Area YMCAs are currently operating at less than 50 percent capacity, Christy said the YMCA is also using the Reset New Year Challenge to remind people the "Y is still out there, whether you're in our building or whether you're not."

Since the YMCA has associations all around the country, Christy said organizers thought it would be beneficial to start this communal effort.

"We all kind of want the same basic things out of life," said Christy. "[We asked] How can we support each other in a time where everybody needs a little bit of support? …we're just hoping we get that warm-fuzzy [feeling] and have people starting to feel a little bit better about everything."

Non-members who sign up for the Reset New Year Challenge will be allowed to use a YMCA facility free of charge once per week during the six-week challenge. Christy said the Reset participant can show their Reset text messages on their phone to a YMCA staff member to gain entry.

This aspect of the program serves a dual purpose of helping someone meet their goals and allowing a prospective member to try out the YMCA.

There will be similar challenges offered in summer and fall.

 "We look forward to hearing how the different aspects of this challenge will make an impact," said Ryan Reavy, executive director of the Riverfront YMCA. "We believe this can benefit many of us as we begin this new year."

The membership branches that are part of the Akron Area YMCA are: Riverfront YMCA, 544 Broad Blvd. Cuyahoga Falls; Lake Anna YMCA, 500 West Hopocan Ave., Barberton; Firestone Park YMCA, 350 E. Wilbeth Road, Akron; Kohl Family YMCA, 477 E. Market St., Akron; Green Family YMCA, 3800 Massillon Road, Uniontown; and Wadsworth YMCA, 623 School Drive, 

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at pkeren@thebeaconjournal.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.