The YMCA, Ensuring a Brighter Future

Brant Sommerville

Y Watch made it possible to renew his health


If one person successfully portrayed the Y’s motto, “We’re more than just a gym or pool,” Brant Sommerville would fit the role perfectly. “It’s very true for me; I use neither,” he says. Yet Brant credits the Y for his health transformation, including a 40-plus pound weight loss. While he doesn’t exercise in the gym or pool, Brant strongly believes that the Y Child Watch gave him renewed vitality. At the end of the work day, Brant, age 43, and his wife Casey, age 35, take their daughters to the free child care area at Y North. Then they run outdoors. “As working professionals with three kids, we wouldn’t have been able to do this without the Y Watch,” he says. “What an amazing benefit for members.”


The Sommerville family has held a Y membership for about five years. Their children participate in swimming and gymnastics, but it wasn’t until November of 2013 that Casey suggested the couple begin exercising at the Y. That motivated the couple to complete the Y’s winter running series, which includes three 5K races, that season. They remain dedicated to training four to five days a week when their daughters, ages 8, 6, and 3, spend time in Y Watch, where they like coloring, playing games, and making new friends. “Our kids enjoy the staff. I trust the staff so much that I would have them in our own home,” Brant says. “They keep the kids active and safe. We are very grateful for Y Watch.”


Brant’s health vastly improved. Before he began running, he was not only overweight, but his doctor diagnosed him with pre-diabetes and high blood pressure. Today his doctor gives him a perfect report. “Running basically changed my life,” he says. “I told the doctor that I wished he could prescribe everyone with running shoes.” Brant proudly relays that his wife has enhanced her well-being too. He’s thankful for Casey’s encouragement and support; they’ve been married for 10 years. “It wouldn’t have happened without her and the Y Watch,” he says. “I wouldn’t have changed the direction I was going.” Casey always enjoyed running and she wanted them to participate in a healthy activity. Another great benefit of exercising together is that it has enriched their relationship. “Quite honestly, running is the only time we’re alone – except when we’re sleeping,” says Brant with a laugh, and Casey smiles in agreement. “It’s made us closer because it’s given us a common goal. We set goals for running.”


Completing a half marathon is one goal they set out to meet earlier this year. Yet Casey finished it alone. Brant broke his ankle one month before their first half marathon. To keep in shape, Brant bicycled. Now that he’s healed, they’re working toward finishing a half marathon later this year. “We’re a team. We help each other out,” Brant says. “We feed off of one another.”  On average, they run about five miles each session, totaling about 20 to 30 miles each week. They love going for longer treks, about eight miles, on the weekends. When training for a race, they’ll push each other to go further. Serving as healthy role models for their daughters provides another advantage to exercising as a couple. Their oldest child, Bailey, asks to go with them, and they enjoy running with her on shorter routes. “It’s definitely having a positive trickle-down effect on the girls,” Brant says. “It’s important to us that they see us taking care of ourselves.” Giving back to the Y as first-time volunteers for the annual fundraising campaign proved gratifying for the Sommervilles this spring. “The Y is incredible; we wanted to give back in some way,” Brant says. “We enjoyed reaching out and getting to know more Y members.”

– by Kim Seidel, Seidel Ink LLC 2015