Meet the Y: Cheyenne

Hays Communities YMCA member Cheyenne Bell recently spoke to a group of donors and volunteers where she spoke about finding the strength to endure pain – to allow it the space it needs to exist while also finding ways to heal.

Cheyenne and her two children moved to Buda in March 2018 after their lives were upended by her husband’s sudden death. Her dearest and best friend was no longer with her to share the life they’d planned together. The family’s sole income was gone, and she had to raise their two young children alone. If that devastation weren’t enough, Cheyenne also suffered bulged disks in her back. Many days she couldn’t leave the sofa, her pain was so intense.

“One of the things I have always done when things are challenging is to focus on fitness,” Cheyenne explained to me. “It’s one of the only ‘me times’ I can get.” Without her family’s income, Cheyenne knew that traditional gyms were out of her price range. She remembered the family programming offered at the YMCA, so she looked into joining Hays Communities.

Photo by Kendall Dean Photography

Determined to avoid surgery and at the recommendation of her health care providers, Cheyenne began attending yoga classes to supplement physical therapy and acupuncture. Gradually, she started to heal. In turn, she added more yoga classes to her weekly schedule. Over time she was able to control her pain and add running and lifting weights to her routine. She continues to set goals that heal her body and challenge her mind.

The people she met in class have come to provide the support she needs as a newly single mother. She’s built “friendships with women who are with me outside of the yoga studio. Not only has it helped me to heal my body, but it has also helped me to heal by building a community, and that’s something I need right now.”

If there’s one thing Cheyenne has learned this past year, it’s that it takes a village to raise a child. Knowing that her kids are safe and happy for a couple hours has provided the necessary space to focus on her own goals, her own strength, her own healing. “My son has always been a little shyer. When he comes here, his best friend is Mr. Will. He wants to stay and play with Mr. Will. He gets really excited to come and play.”

The YMCA provides an opportunity to get out of the house and to receive attention that is healthy, safe, and fun. “I appreciate the Y because it has allowed me to heal myself and have that ‘me time’ without breaking the bank.”

Cheyenne is contemplative yet practical about the process of healing. In her experience, emotion is often released through physical movement. Going on a jog, being outside, and moving your body stimulate chemicals that are natural antidepressants. “There’s a deep connection between physical movement and happiness. For me, that has been a huge part of the healing process.”

Only a year and a few months into widowhood, she understandably grapples with cycles of grief that sometimes last for hours, sometimes days. When she’s at the Y, she doesn’t feel like she has to hide it. “I was in child’s pose. I was crying and nobody could see it, and my friend Jeanne came and put her hand on my back. She just knew. I really appreciated that, and I do think that being a part of this community is more beneficial than a lot of other things people tell you to do when you’re suffering.”

Community support is key when it comes to sustaining a healthy lifestyle. It is an honor to play a role in facilitating the type of community Cheyenne has found here.

All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and/or contributors and not of their employer. Any questions or concerns regarding the content found here may be sent to

Contribute to the Y

We believe that lasting personal and social change can only come about when we all work together to invest in our kids, our health and our neighbors. As the leading nonprofit committed to helping everyone thrive at each stage of life, we are uniquely positioned to take on new and long-standing challenges more comprehensively than anyone else.

Your support through the YMCA of Austin’s Annual Giving Campaign makes this possible.