Right now it’s 5:25 a.m. on Tuesday morning, and I’m walking through the doors to one of my favorite places; the Geauga YMCA on Bass Lake Rd. Although I work out Monday through Friday most weeks, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are my favorite days to be there. Why? I like to think there are two “Y”s actually. Manny and Denny.
“Good morning, Gabe,” Manny cheerfully bellows out to me as I walk through the doors. His bright glowing smile always makes this gloomy hour of the morning so much brighter. What surprised me was, after just a couple of weeks, Manny knew me by my first name. He didn’t have to look at his screen to see my name after I scanned my card; he knew me right when I walked through the door.
As the crowd of tired champions makes their way through the doors one at a time, Manny greets every single one by name. He knows them all, and they each brighten up with a little smirk or a smile when he says their name.
Manny is the gatekeeper. For those of us who show up before the gym actually opens, we get to stand there in the foyer and wait until 5:29 a.m., and some of the die-hard workout addicts like to tease Manny every morning and ask, “Just once you could let us in three minutes early Manny, couldn’t you!?” Manny chuckles and says, “Nah, now…we can’t be doing that,” and goes back to watching the clock. Then when the hand on the clock rises straight up to 12 he gently drolls, “Alright, go ahead now,” and like solemn soldiers questioning our decisions to wake up so dang early, we march through the gate and drop our things in a locker and walk into the big workout area. Here you get to meet the second Y of why I go here.
Denny met me the first day I ever worked out at the YMCA. The first time you go, you get to work with one of their trainers, and I was fortunate to meet Denny that day. He has a soft, cheerful smile, and he took the time that day to explain how everything worked and what the Y could offer me. I knew he was genuinely interested in helping me achieve my goals of heath and stress burning. When he was done giving me my tour, he went around to all the regulars and said hello.
Every morning when Denny is there, he’s smiling, talking to the regulars, and offering to help with anything they need. Every couple of weeks he says hello as I walk in and asks things like, “I’m glad to see you here every day! You’re really making a good habit of this, aren’t you?” Or sometimes, “How are you, Gabe? Are you enjoying yourself? Do you need help with anything?” It’s comments like that, and the bright glowing smile, that makes an otherwise less-than-enjoyable concept (working out) a much more cheerful and exciting idea. My day starts off with two people who genuinely care about me and everyone else who walks through those doors. “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference,” Winston Churchill said, and I can say that his statement is definitely true for me. Thanks to two people who are consistently cheerful, I reap the benefits of their great attitudes.
Sometimes I think the good moments, the great moments, and the positive moments of life are overshadowed by a couple passing dark clouds. When I started this project called Geauga News, I decided that it was time to change. It was time to focus on the wonderful people and events that happen all around us everyday. So that’s what we do. We highlight everyday heroes whose cheerful hearts make big, bright, glowing spots in our world.
Do you know Manny or Denny? Do you know someone else whose cheerful heart makes a difference in your life? Share your story in the comments below. Recognize one of your cheerful heroes today.