It’s pretty easy to see that Bridget Behrmann is a Cincinnati girl. Just peruse her Instagram and Facebook feeds and you’ll see plenty of photos of her with her husband and two sons at an FC Cincinnati match or UC Bearcats game or running any part of The Flying Pig.
Behrmann, the current director of Wellness and Member Engagement for the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, could have taken her health and wellness career anywhere. She’s been in the YMCA system for more than 20 years and has also worked in corporate wellness.
She spent three summers at a camp in Maine and interned at a Y in Boston on off days. She also worked for a YMCA in Florida, along with two other jobs at the time, and had a job waiting for her there in 1998. Ultimately, family and community brought her back to Cincinnati.
“There is no other city where you can grow as a professional, get the big city feel, and still have some ‘country,’ and raise a family with amazing amenities to enjoy life,” says Behrmann. “I love Cincinnati for the history, the unique communities that offer arts, sports, and wonderful cuisine. There is never a day/weekend that goes by that we can’t try a new restaurant, cheer on a local team, and visit a new park.”
Also, she had a younger brother in grade school at the time. “I thought, ‘I’m missing all the good stuff,’” she continues.
Behrmann grew up on the west side of Cincinnati, in Covedale. She is a graduate of Seton High School and proudly says that she worked at Price Hill Chili for 25 years. And she left her mark there. On display in the iconic restaurant is the Olympic torch that Behrmann carried for 1.5 miles en route to Atlanta for the 1996 Summer Games.
“I love to see that so many classmates I grew up with are now raising their families in the same community because of the pride of their neighborhood,” she says. “The culture of revitalization is definitely on the rise in Westwood, Price Hill, and Cheviot, which is showing the new demographics of those moving to our neighborhood.”
Behrmann attended the University of Findlay (Ohio) from 1996–98. During the summers, she ran the sports department at a camp in Maine and then drove down to Boston on the weekends to intern at the YMCA there. In the fall of 1998, she had an internship at a non-profit water fitness and water safety organization in Boynton Beach and then the Boca Raton Y.
By December of that year, she gave up Florida and returned to Cincinnati, working at a Mercy Health Plex, a YMCA Hospital collaboration. After three years there, she went to the Central Parkway branch of the YMCA as fitness director. She then earned a degree in Health Education and Athletic training at the University of Cincinnati and later earned a masters in Sports Administration from Xavier University.
Her career at the YMCA organization took off. She was associate executive director of the East Butler County Family YMCA for three years, and then moved to the Fairfield Family YMCA as executive director in 2006. Then she was hired at the Great Miami Valley Y as the senior fitness director where she moved up to associate director of Healthy Living and Program Innovation. In 2018, she landed back at the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati in her current position.
Her affection for the YMCA started when she was young and, after the internship with the Y in Boston, she knew she wanted to stay with the organization. She calls herself a “Y brat.” “I swam at the Y. I did classes at the Y. That’s how I got started teaching,” she says. “Honestly, it’s a place where I love being with people. I love interacting with people of different generations and demographics. And it’s a safe place for my kids.”
Her sons, ages 8 and 6, are Y-bred. Her oldest has been in the pool since he was 27 days old.
“They embody what families do at the Y,” she says. “There is not a program they have not done at the Y.”
She said despite working in a profession that could take her anywhere, she knew she wanted to be back in Cincinnati.
“I never realized how much of a Cincy girl I was until the last five years,” she says. “I love my Bearcats. I love FC Cincinnati. If you look at my Instagram feed or my Facebook page, you’re going to see us at an FC game or us in a race together.”
Behrmann is an avid runner and has competed in all 21 Flying Pig marathons. She’s run more than 25 marathons all over the U.S. and one in Ireland.
Since she’s been back, she’s seen so many positive changes in the city. “I have noticed so many more small businesses and new entrepreneurs that are striving to make a mark in our city,” she says. “We are big supporters of local businesses and you will always find us trying a new local brewery, eclectic store or restaurant, and especially a coffee shop.”
“This is home,” she says. “This city is a gem. People are so friendly. I really feel comfortable in our city.”
This is the seventh story in an ongoing series about Cincinnati’s “boomerang” residents — people who grew up here, left, and then came back for various personal, professional, and sentimental reasons. If you or someone you know qualifies and would like to be featured in Soapbox, email [email protected].
Two years ago, she and her husband were looking to relocate and considered moving to Nashville. But they decided against it.