Why the Y?
Remember that show from the 80's/90's called Cheers? The theme song was really catchy and focused on a place where 'everybody knows your name" well, for me, that's how I feel when I walk into the Jerry Long YMCA. No matter who is at the front desk, I'm always greeted with a warm smile and a personal greeting.
These days I feel like I spend more time at the YMCA than I spend anywhere else (other than my home). The thought actually makes me smile. As I said in a recent Facebook Live session, I was never athletic and the thought of exercising when I started my weight loss journey was overwhelming. Oftentimes, when you are overweight, walking into a gym is intimidating. I've belonged to other gyms during my lifetime and I can remember feeling out of place because I felt like I was the only overweight person in the class or in the room. In most cases, that wasn't always the case, but that feeling likely came from both internal and external sources. I can remember people looking at me while I was working out and feeling self conscious. These feelings usually resulted in the eventual cancellation of my membership (usually after several years of paying without actually attending).
I never felt that way when I'm at the Jerry Long YMCA, even when I was at my heaviest. The atmosphere at the Y is always friendly, positive and health focused. Not only is the staff warm and inviting, but the members are WONDERFUL! I've made many friends at the YMCA by attending group exercise classes and going on a regular basis. The motivation to continue to visit the Y almost daily is a result of the warmth and acceptance that it exudes along with the variety of group classes, equipment and other indoor exercise options (racquetball, basketball, indoor track, etc).
My favorite type of exercise is group classes and I love them for several reasons: 1) the instructors are incredible. They are fit, fabulous and know just what to say at the right moment to bring my mind out of la la land and back into the workout. They motivate, inspire and I strive to reach a smidgen of their physical abilities one day 2) I love that every class is a challenge. No matter how toned I get or how good at it I become, there's always room for improvement. I always push to do better than I did the previous class 3) I like that I'm held accountable for my performance during these classes. No one holds me accountable other than myself, but in a large group of people, there is no way I'm not going to try my best. In group classes I work harder to exceed my previous performance AND I measure myself against the person that I think is the most athletic. Yeah, I guess you can say I"m a little competitive <smile> 4) the music is amazing. The music always has a great beat and keeps the classes fun. Most of the classes I attend are Les Mills programs so they are choreographed and launched in regular intervals throughout the year. This brings me to 5) launches. A launch is the debut of a new workout which means new music, new moves and new challenges. This is always awesome because it keeps our workouts in constant flux and I love that as soon as we get used to it, they mix it up again. In essence, it never gets boring.
There are times that the classes don't always fit into my schedule. Believe it or not, I do prefer to sleep in once in awhile and when that happens, I'll either look for classes at another local YMCA (we can now go to any YMCA without an additional charge) or I'll run on the treadmill or use the elliptical trainer and/or the weight machines. There have even been times when I've gone to group classes and combined my workout with additional cardio or weight training.
After almost every workout, you'll find me in the sauna for at least 15-20 minutes. It's a great way to detox and I believe it's helped firm up my skin. More importantly, it helps me relax. Relaxing and getting enough rest is just as critical to good health as is a healthy diet and regular exercise.
If going to the gym or exercising alone intimidates you, think about going or doing it with a friend. A workout buddy can help ease some of that stress and you can motivate each other to succeed. During the week, I usually go by myself in the early mornings but I go as often as I can with my daughter, Juliana and/or my boyfriend, Robby. I find that it helps incorporate some great personal time with them too so it's bonus! When my son is home from college, he frequents the Y and I love that he has the opportunity to reconnect with his friends in a healthy, family focused atmosphere.
There was a time when I felt out of place wherever I went, let alone a gym, but the Jerry Long Family YMCA helped me overcome that by accepting me and motivating me to change. If you live locally, I encourage you to check out the YMCA. There's a program for everyone and they have financial assistance to those who qualify.
For those of you who are not local, try to find a place where you feel comfortable and can exercise and take care of yourself physically. It may be a gym, it could be your basement, beach or local park. It may take more than one visit to feel comfortable, so give it some time. Whatever your place is, make sure to go there and move several times per week. It's critical to your physical and emotional well being.
Bee happy. Bee healthy.