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From daycare to peaceful Pilates studio thanks to two anonymous donors

YMCA Pilates studio

Thanks to our Community

This month we’re celebrating our mindful movement community with stories highlighting your accomplishments and experiences bringing fitness and joy to people around the world. Healthy communities are happy communities. Thank you!


The Pilates studio at the YMCA of Steuben County, Indiana, has been housed in a number of unconventional locations. Classes have been held in a cycle room, Reformers have been squeezed into a boardroom and clients have tried to find their mind-body connection in an old daycare.

But now, thanks to two anonymous donors and longtime Y members, that bland daycare space has been converted into a fully equipped Pilates studio, with Merrithew Reformers, floor to ceiling mirrors, dimmer lights, prop storage and aqua-colored walls.

Kelly Kobelak, who manages the studio and is a STOTT PILATES® Certified Instructor, personal trainer and group fitness instructor, is still in disbelief.

“It was a blessing and such a gift,” Kelly says. “I can’t even put into words how much their generosity means to us.”

“We always wanted our studio to be better, but we couldn’t really consider that as a non-profit organization. With this donation and what they did for us, now we can reach out to so many more people, including those who are hurting and need physical therapy. It’s opened up this whole new world of possibilities for this space and with the new equipment we have.”

YMCA studio before

Before

YMCA studio after with Merrithew Stability Chairs

After

A legacy of generosity

It all started several years ago, when the couple introduced Reformer Pilates to the YMCA of Steuben County. They donated three older models, which were temporarily set up in the cycle room and later moved to the daycare space.

“This couple summers in Steuben County and they’ve been Pilates enthusiasts for a really long time. But they missed being able to practice on Reformers while they were here,” Kelly says. “We’re a very small YMCA, we only have 4,800 members and space is at a premium, so this was something we didn’t know too much about until they brought it to our attention.”

Then in February, the couple surprised everyone again: they offered to pay for the studio to be renovated and for new equipment to be purchased.

No request was outside the realm of possibility. After speaking with Merrithew’s commercial sales team, the donors decided to purchase three V2 Max Plus Reformer Bundles, one Rehab V2 Max Plus Reformer Bundle, three Split-Pedal Stability Chairs, Cardio-Tramp® Rebounders and Jumpboards, and a number of other props and accessories.

“I can’t say enough about how wonderful it was to work with Merrithew throughout the whole process,” Kelly says. “I feel like we wouldn’t be here without Merrithew’s help.”

After purchasing the equipment, Kelly says there’s even some money left over for instructor training, and perhaps scholarships for those who can’t afford to pay for the training themselves.

“Everyone here at the Y had a hand in making this a reality, which makes it really special,” Kelly says.

When the equipment arrived, Kelly was teaching a class at the time, so all the other staff pitched in to help.

“As I was teaching my class, I was watching them scurry around like ants, taking it off the truck one piece at a time. We had all our staff helping. One guy even came in on his time off to help. Seeing that, I got emotional. Everybody touched this and had a piece of this.”

By the time the donors arrived in May, the space had been transformed.

“When I first walked in and saw how it looked, I don’t know what I was thinking or expecting, but it made me emotional. It went from being just a plain room to a beautiful studio space that makes people feel relaxed and comfortable. When we put the Merrithew equipment in, people couldn’t get over it,” she says.

Fortunately, the donors were just as impressed. “I remember hearing the woman say to her husband as they walked down the hall towards the studio, ‘Prepare to be wowed’.”

YMCA Before

Before

YMCA After with Merrithew Reformers

After

Bringing Pilates to the Y

Now that word has got around about the beautiful new Pilates studio at the YMCA of Steuben County, enrollments are up, with 10 new clients joining since the renovation, Kelly says.

The new studio, which is open to everyone for an additional fee, has allowed the Y to diversify its business and reach new clients outside its membership base. Right now, Kelly’s teaching five group classes per week and taking private bookings. She’s looking to hire another instructor and a physical therapist to expand the studio’s offering and schedule in the near future.

“Having the studio here has brought Pilates to the forefront. I don’t think people here really knew what Pilates was before or what it could do for them. Now they’re asking questions; they want to know what’s going on here and they want to be part of it,” Kelly says.

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