Ester Marsh: 25 years with the YMCA!

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 3, 2022

This past Thursday marked my 25th anniversary of working for the Rowan County YMCA! Yep, I started at the “Old” Y on Fulton Street on Aug. 25, 1997. The main reason I am writing about this is the reason why I started with the Salisbury YMCA. In August 1997, I moved from Florida to N.C. for my then-husband’s work, and to be closer to his family. Exciting enough a new Gold’s Gym was in process being built on U.S. 29, which is now The Forum. I love Matt and Steve and we have worked very well together over the past 25 years. I don’t think I have ever talked to them about this, I know at the time they were not aware of my “plan,” but I was going to work for their Gold’s Gym! At that time, I had worked for 15 years in for-profit fitness industry and their new Gold’s gym was right up my alley.

But as I said, they were still building it. My family and I were still in a hotel to get our house ready when I read an ad in the paper that the Salisbury YMCA needed a personal trainer. My then-husband said, “the Y doesn’t pay anything!” I thought, shoot I will start there and when Gold’s opens and just move over there. Mind you, Steve and Matt had no clue about my plan! So I had an interview scheduled with Susan Musselman and went to the Salisbury YMCA. If you have been there in later ’90s, you know it wasn’t the prettiest or most up-to-date facility and equipment. Actually, it was the opposite of that.

I had my interview with Susan, followed by a tour of the facility. The whole time I was walking behind her I was thinking, “I can’t work here! No windows, all those staircases, and super old equipment.” But Susan gave a tour like she was showing me the Taj Mahal! She was so excited showing the building and the equipment that I started to believe her! She must see something! I figured, what the heck, work here until Gold’s opens, especially since the pay was way below I was used to receiving. I think it took less than a week to completely forget about the lack of windows, old equipment and old, smelly hallways. I truly found such special place where my kids loved going to (and all started their first jobs there!), where I met my best friends, and a place that got me through some very difficult times.

I do believe that if I would have started at Gold’s Gym, now The Forum, I would have flourished there too. It’s what you make of it isn’t it? Until we moved from Fulton Street to Jake Alexander Boulevard to our current J.F. Hurley Family YMCA, financially we were struggling greatly. But somehow we pulled it together with the help of our community, other Rowan County YMCA’s and an amazing dedicated staff to keep going and give this town something truly special. I do not regret one second that I stayed with the YMCA. I do think back that if anyone else would have given me a tour, I don’t think I would have started to work there. So it’s true what they say — you can’t judge a book by its cover! I am remaining on this journey and will see how long it continues. Who knows, maybe I will be like Jack LaLanne! But to stay healthy we must stay active, be determined and continue to move and exercise. No matter what age, ailment or challenge, I have never met a doctor who discourages you to exercise! So come on and move with me!

Ester H. Marsh is health and fitness director of the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA.