Finding Physical and Mental Strength at the YMCA

Richard and Katie Gibbs

Richard with daughter Katie at the Saint John Regional Y

Richard Gibbs discovered the Y after a stent was placed in one of his arteries. The Cardiac Rehab program was the first step to a more active and healthy life. After completing the Cardiac Rehab program at the Y, he continued to be physically active, and took up biking.

In 2017 Richard’s wife, who had been battling an autoimmune disease for years, became very ill and was admitted to the Saint John Regional Hospital. Spending every day at the hospital for six months, watching his wife’s condition deteriorate began to take a toll on Richard’s mental health.

“I was like a lost soul,” he said, “I had to do something for my mental health.”

On January 1, 2018, he decided to return to the place that inspired him to get moving. The Y quickly became his second home. The proximity of the Y to the hospital made it easy for Richard to add the Y to his routine. He would stop at the Y every morning on his way to visit his wife. Richard began to feel better not only physically, but mentally with every visit to the Y.

Sadly, Richard’s wife lost her battle in February 2018, but he continued to fight for his mental health. Having found a sense of community, Richard continued his routine.

“I just kept on coming. I’m here twice a day sometimes. And I’ve met a lot of friends” he said. “That was a big help.”

More than a year after Richard joined the Y you can still find him here twice a day. Since the beginning of his Y journey, Richard has lost 60 lbs., and has had major improvements in his mental health.

The YMCA has encouraged Richard to be more active outside of its walls; he is looking forward to coming out of retirement this summer for a part-time job helping with bike tours and rock climbing at Lily Lake.

“I would say to anyone going through a major life event to give the Y a try. It might straighten you out” he said. “It certainly worked for me.”

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