The YMCA: And the Pursuit of a Better Us

These community leaders and Y volunteers share how the YMCA is helping them in their pursuit of being better men and fathers.

George Tsafonias, CEO/Co-founder of Market Loyal
As a father, husband and business owner, my life gets very busy. Although it can be tough, the goal is to always do the best I can to balance each of these areas equally. I grew up going to the YMCA but was never truly aware of the impact it had on my personal trajectory as a young child and the stable impact it has on the communities where it resides. My pursuit over the years has changed from staying busy as a kid in my community to giving back as an adult to my community. I have been lucky to accomplish this pursuit in a couple areas. As an acting member of the Dr. P. Phillips Board and a member of the Brand & Cause Committee for the YMCA of Central Florida, I have accomplished giving back to this fantastic pillar in our community.

Jim Alessandro, SVP Marketing & Sales Content for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
The longer I’ve been associated with the Y, and the more deeply I understand its impact on the community, the more passionate my advocacy for it has become. Its ability to selflessly provide our community with support and to connect those who call it home clearly make it one of Central Florida’s crown jewels. Like many people in my age group, between work and family (particularly those balancing both kids and aging parents who need support), I’m pretty consumed in what I call my bubble. Playing even a small role in helping to enable the Y’s efforts in Central Florida has helped me in my pursuit of stepping outside of my bubble and has provided connections to the community in ways I could never have imagined.

Mark Freid, President for Think Creative Inc.
In simple terms, I’m working to live life fully every day and to be a good role model to my three kids, a good partner to my wife of almost 22 years, a good leader to my team and a good example for those around me. I’m in pursuit of discovering and being the best version of myself I can be. That means being healthy, fit, engaged with the community, happy and content with wherever I am on life’s journey, and as stress-free as possible. By no means is this pursuit easy, but it’s worth it. It’s not hard to imagine how the Y plays into this pursuit. I’ve been able to complete three Ironman races, run multiple ultramarathons, participate in a humbling run across the Grand Canyon, a run across the Blue Ridge Mountains and an incredible run across the state of Florida this past December.

Pete Barr Jr., President/CEO for &Barr
I am in pursuit of being younger next year, and I plan to do so through initiatives in place at the YMCA. The Downtown Y is my second home, where I meet up with friends to run and work out inside. Typically, I frequent the Y after work, but at times I sneak in a workout mid-day. My goal is to be physically very active seven days per week. Best of all, my best friends are there with me almost every day and share the same goal.

Steve Martin, CEO of Omni Productions
As I reflect on my 15-year involvement with the Y, I’m reminded of the reason I began that journey. Like many, I’ve struggled with weight all my life. As a young person, I bargained with myself that I was invincible. As an adult, I know better. When it was clear that our first-born son was a mini me we were determined to pursue a different outcome for him. So we enrolled him in soccer and I was recruited as a volunteer coach. Season after season, our family’s involvement in Y sports programs remained as a constant. With my son’s recent graduation from high school, I’m so thankful to the Y for laying the foundation of healthy living for him. As he goes on to pursue his own goals as an adult, it’s time to refocus my pursuits toward a healthier and more active lifestyle for myself. And I know the Y will be there to help me.

YMCA Tips for Dads in Pursuit of a Healthier Spirit, Mind and Body

1. Prevention: Commit to a yearly physical to detect changes in your health before they develop into bigger issues. Know and share your family health history with your physician.

2. Eating Right: Add in vegetables, fruit, whole grains and healthy fats. Look for lower-sodium foods and set a snacking curfew to avoid late-night snacking.

3. Move: Aim for 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Choose activities that you enjoy and look for small ways to become more active in everyday activities, like taking the stairs vs. elevator.

4. Sleep: Prioritize getting a proper amount of quality sleep to help regenerate and recharge your body and your mind.

5. Relationships: Make time each day to deepen and to enjoy personal relationships with loved ones, your community and your faith. Seek ways to get involved and give back your time, talent and resources to those in need.

The YMCA now offers an innovative new program to help you in your pursuit of a healthier you in collaboration with your physician and a YMCA Lifestyle Coach called HealthierLife RX. Learn more at


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Written by Lyndsay Fogarty

Lyndsay Fogarty has had many roles at Central Florida Lifestyle, working her way from intern to contributing writer to managing editor. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida’s Nicholson School of Communication where she earned her degree in journalism. Along the way, she has learned that teamwork and dedication to your craft will get you far, and a positive outlook on the present will get you even farther.

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