Kim Castro began working at the Y 6 years ago. She’s taught Zumba classes, instructed the Diabetes Prevention program, became a certified personal trainer, taught first graders to swim through Project S.A.F.E., helped man the lifeguard stand when needed and now, she’s the lead instructor for LIVESTRONG at the Y, a cancer survivorship program at the Hays Communities Y.
“If someone says, ‘Someone is needed for x, y or z. Can anyone help out?’ I’m always the one who says, ‘I can help.’ Whether I have the time or not,” Castro said.
Castro has a background as an environmental permit engineer, but she was looking for a more flexible career once she had her third child. She began teaching Zumba at the Y and her involvement blossomed from there.
“I pretty immediately fell in love with the Y; the atmosphere, the staff, the people, everything,” Castro said. “All that it offers, all that it provided, all that it stood for. I’ve had a few opportunities to leave, and I just couldn’t.”
Castro took over as lead instructor of LIVESTRONG at the Y 3 years ago. LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, a small-group program developed and established in partnership with the LIVESTRONG Foundation, assists those who are living with, through, or beyond cancer to strengthen their spirit, mind and body.
“My first session [of LIVESTRONG] was uncommonly heavy with men,” Castro said. “I will never forget how thankful they were always. We were getting close to graduation, and I didn’t really feel like I had done much contribution because I was kind of the [substitute teacher]. I had instructed a few classes, but not a whole lot. One of the men happened to see me in the parking lot one day. He waved me down and stopped me. He said, ‘I want to tell you something.’ I was nervous at first because I thought he was going to make a complaint… and he said, ‘I took a shower yesterday standing up, and I haven’t been able to take a shower standing up in years.’ It brought tears to my eyes, and three years later, I still cry at every graduation.”
As the lead instructor, Castro collects all interest forms for the program. She coordinates the one-on-one intakes and sends out medical clearance forms. She also organizes the first day class, which includes providing a participant summary for each instructor and making sure all participants have a functional assessment. She coordinates all the speakers for the program and any additional class formats, like aqua demo classes. She also serves as the lead strength instructor and leads all the strength exercises for the group. The class runs two days per week, and they host three sessions per year at the Hays Communities Y.
“Kim is such an asset to our Hays Communities Wellness Staff Team and her passion for helping others improve their lives through education, exercise and nutrition shines through in all she does,” said Jill Adams, Health and Wellness Director at the Hays Communities Y.
Kim plans on continuing her career with the Y and to help people find holistic health through Y programs and services.
“I think the purpose of the Y is to improve our community from the inside out,” Castro said.