Monroe County YMCA Blog

Bloomington, Indiana

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Grab Some Goodies from the YMCA Preschool Bake Sale

Our Preschoolers are hosting their annual YMCA Preschool Bake Sale at the Southeast Y on Thursday, February 13 and Friday, February 14! The kids have an assortment of Valentine’s Day themed treats available for purchase, ranging from $1-$5 each. We accept cash donations, or you can charge your goodies to your Y account at our Welcome Center.

The students’ goal is to raise money for:

  • Preschool programming
  • Monroe County Y for All Scholarship Fund

Our Y for All Scholarship Fund awards financial aid to individuals and families who are experiencing financial hardships, and the assistance allows them to access the Y’s programs and services when they otherwise may not be able to do so.

We asked the Preschoolers some questions about their bake sale—here’s what they hilariously shared:

What’s your favorite treat that you’re selling?

“I really like the rice crispies!”

“Do you want to see my favorite? It’s these cake pops.”

“The muddy buddies are really yummy! I eat them at home for snack!”

Did your mommy or daddy make anything?

“They make chicken nuggets!”

“I made the rice crispies with my mommy!”

Do you like Valentine’s Day?

“Yeah! Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. We celebrate!”

Do you have a Valentine?

“No, not really… but we have all of this food!”

Stop by the Southeast Y from 10:00 am-12:00 pm on Feb. 13 & 14 to snag some goodies, have a fun conversation with our Preschoolers, and support the local community through the YMCA!

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Stability Ball Workout with Personal Trainer Mollie Hitchcock

Perform ten reps of each exercise for a total of three sets.

Ab Crunch

Step 1: Roll out until the ball is under your lower back, allowing your shoulders to hang off the ball. Stack your bent knees over your ankles, hip-width apart.

Step 2: Keep your hips stationary, engage your core, and flex at the waist. Leading with the rib cage, contract upwards toward the ceiling.

Ball Pass

Step 1: Straighten your legs out and extend your arms overhead while holding the ball with hands, resting the ball on floor behind your head.

Step 2: Engage your core to crunch your upper body upwards while drawing your legs upward as well.

Step 3: When your feet meet the ball, pass the ball from your hands to your legs, and engage your inner thighs to hold the ball in place.

Step 4: Lower your now empty arms back overhead while also lowering your legs and the ball to tap the floor.

Wall Squat

Step 1: Place the ball at your lower back and position your feet hip-width apart. Lean against the ball and position your feet slightly in front of the rest of your body.

Step 2: Maintaining your knees over your toes, hinge your hips back and down to lower and push your glutes underneath the ball. Bend your knees until they are at 90 degrees.

Bird Dog

Step 1: Press your hands against the floor underneath your shoulders and extend your legs out. Flex your feet, pressing your toes against the floor, hip-width apart.

Step 2: Extend one arm out, bringing it even with the shoulder, while
simultaneously extending your leg on the opposite side of the body until is even with your hip.

Step 3: Maintain an engaged core while simultaneously lowering your arm and leg back down.

Decline Push Up

Step 1: Press your hands against the floor underneath your shoulders and engage your core. Your shins will be on top of the ball with your feet flexed.

Step 2: Lower your chest by bending your elbows at a 90 degree angle.

Step 3: Press into your hands to straighten your arms and push your body back to the starting position.

Glute Bridge

Step 1: Lie your head and shoulders on the stability ball and cross your arms over your chest. Keep a straight line between your knees, hips, and shoulders. Lower your bottom to the floor without allowing the ball to roll.

Step 2: Squeeze your glutes, lifting back up to the starting position.

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The Northwest YMCA Wins the 2019 Ellettsville Chamber Award of Excellence

Our Northwest Y was thrilled to be awarded the 2019 Ellettsville Chamber Award of Excellence this past October!

“Established in 2014, the Chamber’s Award of Excellence is given to a business or organization that provides an outstanding product or service in Ellettsville… demonstrate[ing] excellence in business affairs, while adding to the quality of life in the Ellettsville community.”

The Northwest Y opened near Vernal and Curry Pike on November 13, 2013, serving the Ellettsville community and west side of Bloomington by offering a wide range of programs for age groups starting at just six weeks old all the way to seniors. From the indoor pool offering Swim Lessons year-round to the Group Ex studio with weekly classes and workshops, there is something for everyone no matter their age or interest!

Through our Financial Assistance program, Y for All, the Northwest Y has provided more than $259,000 in financial assistance in the last five years. These scholarships help keep our local Y and its programs accessible to all regardless of age, income, or background. Thanks to our Y for All Scholarship Fund, those in need in Monroe County have access to programs including Summer Camp, Cardiac Rehab, and Youth Sports.

Our Northwest Y affects 1,652 households within the Ellettsville and Bloomington community by not only promoting health and well-being, but also through programs that encourage teamwork, an opportunity to grow, and provide a sense of belonging.

In 2019, 1,844 kids attended Summer Camp, which offers a safe place for kids to explore the outdoors, build self-esteem, and make lasting friendships and memories. The Youth Sports programs started with just 80 participating kids, and now they impact more than 300 kids! A wide range of sports leagues are offered, including soccer, t-ball, basketball, Laser Tag, tumbling, lacrosse, and volleyball. 

Staff from our Northwest Y also regularly attends local events supporting surrounding organizations and events, such as participating in the Monroe County Fall Festival parade this year. The Y opens its facilities to those in need of ample space, such as the United Way Lunch and Learn this past spring presented by the Ellettsville Chamber of Commerce. The AARP Tax Aide program, which provides free tax preparation to low-to-moderate income taxpayers, also used the Northwest facility during the 2019 tax season and processed 312 returns!

The Y offers a sense of community to its members – whether it is by relationships built among Group Ex participants or by offering a place for friends to visit in the lobby, the Y is more than just a gym. Families with children who use the drop-in child watch, seniors who enhance their movement through aquatics workout classes, kids who make new friends at Summer Camp, and teens who play basketball in the gym, have all found this to be true for years. The Y is a safe and welcoming place for all to visit.

The Y strives to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build more than muscle: it builds a healthy spirit, mind, and body for all regardless of age, income, or background! We are honored to have received such a wonderful award from the Ellettsville Chamber of Commerce, and we are thrilled to continue serving the Monroe County community.

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How YMCA Financial Assistance Changed Perry Brown’s Life

As a 13-year-old boy, Perry Brown began his journey in the working world. Throughout the years, he worked in warehouses, stocked grocery store shelves, and cleaned carpets. Before he knew it, 40 years of hard labor had passed, and Perry could feel the physical pain of the time he spent in the workforce. Unaware of the toll taken on his body, Perry continued to work through the discomfort until it became impossible to do so.

In 2015, Perry was diagnosed with a pinched nerve in his neck. While that may not sound like a major medical ordeal, it quickly became one. Doctors removed a disc from Perry’s spine and replaced it with a metal plate and some screws, but Perry’s pain didn’t end there. In the month following his surgery, the entire right side of Perry’s body became swollen, preventing him from being able to walk. Doctors performed another surgery on Perry, this time removing bone from several of his vertebrae and correcting two herniated discs.

Perry underwent three surgeries in eight months, was told he may never walk again at 53 years old, and put in two years of hard work at his physical therapy appointments before he found the Monroe County YMCA. Perry’s insurance had covered the maximum amount of physical therapy he was allotted, so his doctors recommended he join the Y—and that’s just what he did with the help of our Y for All Scholarship Fund.

“I couldn’t imagine what I would have done without the Y after my insurance ran out at the hospital after two years,” Perry shared. “I had nowhere else to go. I sat on the sidelines for four years, not knowing if I’d ever walk again, if I was going to be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of my life. It was the most frightening and scary thing ever, facing a wheelchair at 53.

My mobility, my strength, my coordination—everything is a thousand times better. Two and a half years ago, my doctor suggested I apply for a Y scholarship—I didn’t even know the Y had scholarships. Being a scholarship recipient has impacted my life immensely. I can’t imagine where I’d be without financial assistance. Going to the Y is the highlight of my day.

The scholarship program is the most important program. I know how tough it is not to have a job, not to have money to pay for a membership, but then the Y is nice enough to give you a scholarship to help you. And I have benefited from it totally.

Perry never gave up on his body, even when his doctors told him he’d never be able to do certain things again. He tackled his mobility one day at a time at the Y, setting goals to walk a certain amount of laps around our indoor track at the Southeast Y and perform a certain number of steps on one of our NuStep machines.

In the five years that have passed since Perry’s initial diagnosis, Perry has regained 85% of the mobility he lost—a feat doctors told him he would never accomplish—he’s visited the Y to workout nearly 600 times—he keeps track in his daily journal—and he’s now a staff member at our Southeast Y, where he’s been working as a Wellness Coach for seven months.

“There’s true stories out there of people coming back from ground zero and have a purpose in life, and get a job, and give back for their soul. I can’t thank donors enough.”

Learn more about Perry, his journey, and where Y for All funds come from in the video below. Applications for membership financial assistance are currently open and will stay open until the end of the day on Saturday, November 30. Visit our website to learn more about membership financial assistance and to fill out an application for aid in the 2020 calendar year.

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Finding Freedom in Movement: Accessibility at the Y

In 1993, Susan Seizer was 34 years old. That same year, Susan was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a disease that disrupts the flow of information within the central nervous system, affecting the health and functionality of the brain and the spinal cord. When it came time to figure out her new normal, Susan turned to the YMCA.

Living in Los Angeles at the time, Susan became a Y member. She especially enjoyed water fitness classes, as moving and exercising in water can be therapeutic for those with mobility limitations. In 2003, Susan began using a wheelchair. Although this was a major change in her life, she refused to let it be the reason she stopped moving. Susan shared, “The thing that keeps me moving is moving. Use it or lose it. I have to move, and I want to move. [The Y] is the place I can get out of my chair, both on land and in water. The water is really freeing. The gravity is gone; I can actually lift my legs, I can jog, I can do all of that stuff I’d like to do on land.”

In 2006, Susan moved from LA to Bloomington. She recalled that immediately after she moved, she wanted to see the Y, and she joined right away. “That’s one of the cool things about the Y,” Susan said. “You can go to any city and ask where it is.”

At the Monroe County Y, she continued with water classes, particularly enjoying the Deep Water classes for the freedom of movement. Susan also began working with a Personal Trainer twice a week, in which she and her trainer focused on building and retaining her muscle mass. Although she does private lessons from home now, Susan also took group yoga classes at the Y for some time.

Thinking back to a fond memory, Susan shared “I used to go on the wall beside [the yoga instructor] because I needed the wall for support, and all the people in the class were so thoughtful. There was one woman who would set up all my props for me, and people would check in on me if I missed a week. You really felt the accountability. That definitely kept me coming back. The Y is an incredibly supportive place for me. Any time I come here, I feel better.”

Susan continued to muse about the Y community, sharing that she feels so supported by fellow members. “I’ve really made a community here. It’s funny because Bloomington is such a small town and you know people in so many different ways. I do see people from the Y in other places, but I feel like this is the home. The Y is where we met! I know Susan Hingle; she’s a bartender at The Comedy Attic, but I don’t know her from there. I know her from here. The connections branch out from the Y into the other parts of life.”

It was as if the universe wanted to reiterate her point—during Susan’s interview, countless members stopped to say hi to her, ask how she’s doing, and to catch up about life in general. Spend a few minutes with her at the Y and you’ll see first-hand the kind and caring environment Susan so fondly speaks of. The “warm, friendly accountability” she feels from fellow members is only part of the reason Susan finds herself at the Y five days each week, though. Her fiery drive to continue moving is what really keeps her coming back.

Susan shared that her current goal is to be able to stand up on her own, to get up from her chair without having to use her arms. She determines her goals and she brings them to her Personal Trainer, then they tackle those goals together. Susan expressed gratitude for her trainer’s responsiveness to her goals, and continued:

“It’s so important for people in wheelchairs to get out of the chair and move. It’s so important to be able to do that. When I’m away from [the Y,] I miss it so much because this is the place I can do that. And I hope I can keep doing that; I want to do that. Sometimes I get worried that I won’t be able to do it. It feels really uncomfortable not to move, and I want to move a lot more than I’m able to. I used to be a dancer in my 20s, so I really am a mover. I want to keep moving. There’s so much more movement that I want to do. But at least here, I can do some of it.”

For Susan, the Y has made an irreplaceable impact on her life. “I don’t think I would be in as good of shape as I am, which I can’t say I’m in great shape, but I’m working on it,” she mused. “I wouldn’t feel like I’m working on my body, working on my posture, working on my movement, if I wasn’t coming here.”

Dedicated to her five days of movement and exercise per week, Susan even seeks out the closest Y when she travels. One benefit of being a Y member is having access to most other YMCA facilities across the country. “Where ever I go, I always try to find a pool,” Susan explained. “If it’s in the US, I always can find a Y. I’ve been in Athens, Georgia; I’ve been in Savannah; I’ve been in LA; I’ve been in New York City. I just go to the Y—I look for the Y. I went in Atlanta, too. And it’s so different; all of the Ys are so different. I love it.”

Coming to the Y can change your life physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. Coming to the Y for 16 years has changed Susan’s life, and it’ll continue changing her life each and every day she shows up. “Come [to the Y] and take a class. There are so many good classes. See how supportive this place is. Just come; you’ll meet people and you’ll get fit. You’ll be happier to be moving. Take a break from the other things in your life. You’ll feel better, and you’ll want to do it every day.”

Whether you’re a senior searching for a sense of belonging within a community, a single parent concerned about the physical and social well-being of your children, a cancer survivor trying to regain footing on fitness and wellness, an adult in need of an accessible gym environment, or a young adult who loves taking group exercise classes—whoever you are, the Y is the place for you. Come see us for a free tour of our facilities and a free seven-day trial membership. Like Susan said, just come and see what we have to offer. Just come.

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Monroe County YMCA Gymnastics Center’s First Home Meet

This past weekend on Sunday, October 27, our Monroe County YMCA Gymnastics Center hosted their very first home meet. Coining it the “Flip or Treat Gymnastics Meet,” the Aerials—our competitive gymnast team—performed alongside two Ohio Y teams.

Michelle Stroud, Gymnastics Center Coordinator, shared:
“Our gymnasts overcame fears, showed great determination in the face of adversity, and came back stronger than ever, and some of them laughed and had fun even though they were very nervous to perform and compete. 

Our gymnasts competed with true grit, but showed such grace and sportsmanship. They embody what the four YMCA core values are all about. This meet, the people who helped put it together, the families that came to support their girls—that is what the Y is all about. 

I won’t go into who won firsts and seconds and thirds. The meet was about so much more than that. You have to know the stories behind these girls to fully grasp the context of what those placements meant to our gymnasts.  National Champions held onto their crowns on Sunday. They continued to give meaning to their banners hanging in our gym. 

It was a truly wonderful day filled with YMCA friends from Ohio who we were so blessed to have visit us. Their gymnasts performed beautifully, and we look forward to competing with them again this coming weekend, and the next!”

Placements and Accomplishments:

  • Aerials Level 3 team won 1st place
  • Aerials Level 6 team won 1st place
  • Aerials Level 7 team won 1st place
  • Aerials Xcel Gold team won 2nd place

Some of our gymnasts scored their first 9.0+ on an event, and some of our kiddos had their very first competitive experience EVER!

As it was our first home meet, it was the first time some family members were able to watch their grandchildren/nieces/cousins perform!

Congratulations to all of the gymnasts, coaches, and Y staff who helped put on an incredible event! Learn more about the Monroe County YMCA Gymnastics Center on our website.

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Comradery, Health, and New Possibilities: How Chris Zonkel Found Herself through the Y

If you told Chris Zonkel twenty years ago that she would become an avid runner, competing in 5K races, 10K races, half-marathons, full-marathons, and Iron Man races, she would have laughed at you in disbelief. Little did she know at the time, the Monroe County YMCA would completely transform her life, enhancing her physical, mental, and social health in ways she never thought possible.

Chris photographed with a portion of the Endurance Training program shirts she’s collected over nearly 15 years

In the early 2000s, Chris was working at the Indiana University Law School while working toward her Paralegal degree. She was commuting to and from Indianapolis every weekday, and she was so busy with her education and work that health just wasn’t a priority. However, her parents began to develop health issues, issues that are hereditary, and Chris knew that she had to make some lifestyle changes to prevent herself from developing these complications too.

Chris started by adjusting her eating habits, and she saw some improvements in how she looked and felt, but she wanted to also incorporate exercise in her life. A co-worker of hers had a daughter who was a Personal Trainer at the Y, and she recommended that Chris began training with her. So Chris signed up for a consultation, and that’s how she began her friendship with Margie Kobow, the Director of Healthy Hearts and Active Lives,  and her journey with the Y.

Margie and Chris began training together in 2003 with the goal of running the Y Fall Run, a 5K race—a race that Chris never imagined she would ever run. She recalled that it took her 58 minutes to finish, but her sense of pride in finishing that race caused her to “get bit by the bug,” as competitive runners like to say.

Chris proceeded, with Margie’s unyielding support, to run her first 10K race in Brown County, and then, bitten by the bug once more, she began training for her first marathon race. By the time she was preparing for the marathon, Margie had started a new program at the Y: the Half-Marathon Training group, which has evolved into what is now the Endurance Training group. Chris and Margie trained with the group, then they headed down to Arizona to run the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon.

Some of Chris’ shirts from the Endurance Training program throughout the years

“I was so nervous; I always get nervous before races. I start crying—I cry all the time,” Chris laughed as she recollected the memory. “We were starting the race, and I was already crying, and [Margie asked me why I was crying, and sobbing, I tell her] ‘I don’t know, I don’t know!’

I thought she was just going to run her own race and I was going to run my own race. We’re going, first mile, and I’m like, okay… you’re still here,” Chris said, in a slightly confused tone. “Get to mile two, and I’m like, ‘are you running with me?’ And she says ‘yes! You just have to stop crying!’ So I’m like, ‘okay…’ while trying to quit sobbing, of course. She ran my first marathon with me, and she pushed me to the end.”

After that first marathon, Chris found her racing groove. She and Margie competed in the Louisville Half-Marathon, the Indy Half-Marathon, and a marathon at Disney World. However, like many passionate runners, Chris began to develop injuries like shin splints, stress fractures, and knee issues. While she was forced to back off from her intensive running training, she soon had something else to train for: triathlon races.

Margie, without even knowing it, started another branch of what is now the Endurance Training program by beginning a Triathlon Training group in 2005. Chris laughed, sharing that she didn’t even have a bike when the group started. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, she borrowed one from Margie and competed in her first triathlon: the Columbus Sprint Triathlon.

Chris showing off the group’s new shirts in 2017

Two years into her health and fitness journey, Chris had not only become an accomplished competitive runner, but had also lost around 100 pounds and had begun to crave exercise as a part of her life. She was so moved by how the Y transformed her life that she decided to become more involved in the organization—Chris began working at the Monroe County Y in ‘05 as a Building Supervisor, which was the title for a Wellness Coach then.

Just the same as her progression as a runner, Chris learned and grew as a Y employee. Although she started as a Building Supervisor, she went on to work for Margie in the Adult Health programs, became a CPR instructor, even worked for the Accounting department at one point, and most recently became a certified Group Ex instructor and Personal Trainer, as well as Margie’s assistant in the Healthy Hearts and Active Lives program.

As if her involvement as a staff member wasn’t impressive enough already, Chris also has participated in the Half-Marathon Training group, the Fall and Summer Running groups, the Triathlon Training group, the Fall and Spring 5K Runs, and Corporate Challenge.

She’s also a regular volunteer at the Y for All Gala, Corporate Challenge, Family Fun Night, and any other event where a helping hand is needed. In addition to generously giving her time to the Y in the staff and volunteer realms, she is also a Y for All donor of six years. Her involvement at the Y in the early days of her health journey lit a passion in her that grew even larger as she continued to work at the Y.

Now an experienced runner, racer, and Y member, Chris embarked on her journey to compete in her first half Iron Man in 2009. She shared that, in typical fashion, she cried before the race began. She emphasized that this time, the cry was an “ugly, ugly cry.” Chris proudly shared that even though she was the last official race finisher, and even got a police escort to the finish line, she finished the race! She elaborated, describing that “the cool thing about that was when [she] was on the run, this news press man came up alongside the van, and he’s like, ‘here!’ He threw [her] his press pass that had the schedule with the nice PR lanyard, and he said ‘here’s a souvenir for you!’”

She went on to say “that was the nicest thing; that got me through the last four miles [of that race]. He said, ‘you’re doing great; keep going!’ And I swore I wouldn’t do [an Iron Man] again… But I did!”

Still training regularly with the Endurance Training group, Chris set out to compete in her second half Iron Man in 2014. While she knew going into the race that her body wasn’t in mint condition, she was unaware that she had a severe stress fracture at the time. For the first time in her racing career, Chris was forced to stop at mile nine of the Iron Man. It greatly pained her to do so, but she knew she couldn’t continue the race with the amount of pain she was experiencing.

Afterwards, she was in a boot for two months, and she’s taken a break from competing in major races since. That doesn’t mean she’s quit running all together, though. Chris continues to participate in 5K races, and she is also still a dedicated member of the Endurance Training group, which undoubtedly changed her life in ways that she never expected it would.

Chris, Margie, and other Endurance Training participants competing in the 2015 Y-Tri race

Chris recalled, “my initial thought [about the running group] was oh, everyone is stick thin, everyone is all fit and they can run five minute miles—they’re not going to want me. I’m this little chunky person that can’t even run a ten minute mile… I’m not going to be wanted. In my mind, they’re going to look at me like, ‘ugh, really?’ I’m going to be judged. I felt like I would be judged. But that’s not what it was.”

She went on, speaking with emotion in her voice: “And if Margie really hadn’t pushed me out of my box, I wouldn’t be doing any of this. She made me push myself with being a leader, just to try to put me out there. Without her, I probably wouldn’t be doing this. She’s my best friend.”

Chris went on to talk about the impact the Endurance Training program has had on her life. She shared that “you learn a lot. You meet new people. And then they stay; they come back every session. But then new people come in and they’re so easy to get along with. You talk to them; you find out things about people that you didn’t know. Everybody is so helpful; you just want to stay with the group. It’s nice.

You interact outside of the group too; a lot of people have formed friendships and we’ve done some love connections, too. We had a couple that met through the group; they got married and had kids… Then we had another couple who met; got married; had a child too. A lot of people just make this little love connection, and it’s kind of neat because you see it all unfold.”

She continued, “I really do like the comradery of the group. Everybody is really helpful and so nice. Everybody supports everybody. Nobody is left behind. Doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are. If you’re going to be slow or not run as fast as you want to, people will stay back with you or come back to check on you. It’s not a given that you have to do that… They just do. It’s like a little family. It’s a community. We’ll get together outside of the group, go out to dinner, have parties and get togethers at peoples’ houses. It’s really, really neat.”

Fondness radiated through her voice as she spoke about the people involved in the training group. She shared that one of the best things about the Endurance program is “the determination of the coaches who want to get you to your goal. They will help you achieve something that you wouldn’t think you could achieve.

We’ve had a lot of people who say they just want to do a 5K. They train for that 5K, do their 5K, sign up for the next session, and all the sudden they want to do a 10K or a half. We’ve got people who join wanting to do a 5K only and end up doing a marathon at the end of the year. We help you get to your goals. We help you realize your potential. Again, everybody helps everybody. It’s neat to see the transformation because you can see the transformation in people.”

The 2017 Endurance Training Group

Chris also emphasized that the Y as a whole has completely changed her life in the most positive way. In the physical realm, she shared that “it started [her] toward this path of health and wellness. [She] didn’t even think about becoming a Personal Trainer; didn’t even think about becoming a Cycling instructor; didn’t even think about becoming a Group Ex instructor; didn’t think about CPR instructing… Didn’t think about anything health and wellness related.”

She went on: “But joining the group and having Margie as my personal trainer, pushing me, trying to get healthy; it pushed me toward that. It made me want to help other people. Being that personal trainer; showing people that you don’t have to be this thin or full of muscles to be able to do something or to train somebody or to do anything like that.

The first reaction [people have when they learn I’m a personal trainer] is ‘you’re a personal trainer?’ and I say ‘I know, I’m not the mold, but I do know what I’m talking about and I will help you. I know what I’m doing and I’m healthy. Just because I’m not 20% body fat doesn’t mean that I don’t know what I’m talking about. You can be a healthy overweight person and an unhealthy very thin person. We need to break the stereotypes.”

In the arena of mental health, Chris explained: “[Training at the Y] cleared my mind. Exercise helps. You don’t think about it, but it helps immensely. It clears your mind; it gets rid of the stress. I feel good.

[Training] takes a lot of patience, a lot of determination that I didn’t think I had. It takes a lot of strength because you really want to quit when you have to do an 18- mile run… That takes you all day. That’s your whole day. It takes a lot of determination to want to stick with it, but the end result makes you really proud.”

More of Chris’ Endurance Training t-shirts

She continued: “Socially, I met a lot of people; stepped out of my box. Met tons of people I would not have met any other way. I’ve made friends, life-long friends.

I love how everybody at the Y just wants to help and better the community. The Y is a great place for families; it’s a great place for seniors; it’s really a great place for everyone, overall, no matter who you are or what you are. It’s amazing. You get a family atmosphere when you come in because everybody feels like family.

I’ve gone to other gyms, and it’s totally different. I mean, they have the same equipment, the same programs, but totally different atmosphere. It feels like you have to put some shields up when you go in, because it’s this different attitude. But you come here, and you can just be yourself. It doesn’t matter what you do. You can just be yourself.”

As another season begins, Chris is continuing to train with the other dedicated Endurance participants. While the fall season for the group kicked off on September 10, they’re always happy to take in new members who are looking to begin their running journey, adopt a set training schedule, or train for their next big race at any time. If your interest is at all piqued, Chris, Margie, and the rest of the Endurance Training group would love to have you come out for a practice session.

And who knows, it just might change your life in ways that you never expected. Chris can tell you a thing or two about that.