YWCA Is For Me! — Jenny’s Experience as a Member
We recently spoke with Jenny, a longtime health and wellness member of YWCA Minneapolis. Read below to learn how she became a member, her favorite parts of being a member and advice to others for staying healthy, active and well.
A Gym That Fits
I became a member of YWCA Minneapolis in 2008, shortly before my 30th birthday! Growing up, gyms were not a part of my life. While I was an active person, I did not consider myself athletic. I also had a complicated relationship with my body. My spouse, on the other hand, grew up going to the gym and was running marathons at the time we met in 2005. A few years later, we took a trip to visit his family in Florida. While there, I randomly signed up for a circuit class at a nearby gym. I was the youngest person in the class and was humbled by the much older women in the class as I watched them kick my butt in the strength training exercises. That, along with other factors that would take far too long to explain, contributed to my decision to become a member.
I chose YWCA because it resonated with me as a woman, specifically one who did not feel like I “fit in” in most gym settings. YWCA Midtown is near where I live, YWCA Downtown is near where I work and YWCA Uptown is situated perfectly in between on the bike trail. Each location has things about it that work for me, so I visit them all, depending on what I’m looking to do.
Taking Care of Myself
I had a pretty solid workout/wellness routine going by 2020, so my world was turned upside down by the pandemic. I was suddenly working at home alongside my spouse and child, trying to muddle through all the various impacts. It was rough. I panicked at the start of the pandemic when I thought I would be trapped in my house indefinitely, and was relieved when I learned I could still exercise outside. I took my workouts to the sidewalks and the trails.
As the season changed into winter, I got into all-season biking, hiking and running! Exercising was not only my opportunity to move, but also to have some time to myself (and listen to podcasts), so I got really into long bike rides and runs. Eventually, my body started responding — and not in a good way — to all the cardio I was doing. I was hurting, and I knew I had to switch things up. A good friend recommended I focus on getting strong, so I started working with a personal trainer at YWCA Midtown and then eventually started taking Boot Camp classes. I’m happy to say the majority of the chronic pain issues I was experiencing have gotten much less intense. As I age, I am learning I need to take care of myself in ways I didn’t have to think about when I was younger.
Improving My Form and Getting Stronger
While I have done a few virtual classes through YWCA, I much prefer exercising in person. My favorite class is Pumped, which I discovered as part of my postpartum workout activities. I also really enjoy swimming in the pool and soaking in the hot tub, and there are no virtual substitutions for either of those!
I sought personal training in 2021 for the first time when I realized I needed to get strong and I lacked foundational knowledge about form and strength training. Since working with a personal trainer and attending Boot Camp with Clint, my form has improved and my body has gotten stronger. I have a more effective Pumped class as a result and am slowly gaining the knowledge needed to be able to do strength training on my own.
Eliminating Barriers to Working Out
I really appreciate the ease of access. Having a YWCA located near my home and near my work means one less barrier to keeping the workout habit going strong! Back in 2012, I decided to train for a triathlon. I took a single swimming lesson from a YWCA swim teacher and it totally helped me brush up on my swimming form, and I’ve been swimming for exercise ever since! I am grateful I had so many years of “gym time” with my spouse (including the many years when we brought our kiddo with us and dropped them at Kids Zone), and now I appreciate that I can model “going to the gym” to my child. Our 8-year-old likes to go swimming at the gym and is looking forward to using exercise equipment with us in the future!
Motivation, Access, Sustainability
Things that have helped me stay healthy, active and well include: thinking about what I want to be healthy for (motivation), removing barriers to being active (access) and being creative and strategic to make sure it happens (sustainability). What works for me is not necessarily what will work for anyone else, but I want to be fit so I can explore the world with my body (e.g. hiking, biking, canoeing, etc.) and I want to be healthy so I can take care of people I love.
Exercise also helps me work through things like stress and anxiety, and is a total mood booster for me. I have prioritized having a gym membership and the kinds of equipment needed to do my preferred activities (e.g. a bike, running shoes, seasonal attire, etc.) and I have integrated activity into things like my commute to work. Another strategy that has worked for me is signing up for events or programs so I have something to work toward. This helps hold me accountable!
Helping Me Elevate My Health
I used to think gyms were for a certain type of person, and I was definitely not that type. I don’t think that way anymore. YWCA has helped me elevate my health and wellbeing in ways I could not have done on my own, and I know YWCA is for me!