When Valerie first retired, she had many dreams of things she wanted to do. But she noticed that she couldn’t climb stairs very well and was starting to have trouble getting around. She knew she wanted to garden and travel, and for that, she needed to be able to move comfortably.
She saw an ad for the YMCA and thought “why not go for it?” That was 25 years ago.
At 90, Valerie has participated in a variety of classes but her favourite is Zumba. She loves the music and, because the steps are fast, it challenges her feet and brain, and keeps her young.
“I’ve made so many friends and we always chat after class. I always feel wonderful when I come back from the Y; I feel like I can tackle anything,” she said. “Getting off the couch and joining the Y was the best thing I ever did. It’s given me everything I need to enjoy my retirement.”
Valerie isn’t alone in understanding the need to stay active.
For years, Alice has been attending Senior Start Strong classes on Mondays and Fridays. She just celebrated her 102st birthday with her friends at the Y.
In addition to regular programs, the YMCA in Kingston offers Total Life Care, a suite of programs that has seen many changes over the years. Beginning in 2001 as Y’s Hearts, exercise regimens for people dealing with chronic pain and difficulties breathing, and for those recovering from cancer. Y trainers have seen many “mini miracles” over this time.
Bill said: “After breaking some bones and being too sedentary for too long, I could not walk 30 feet on any incline without having to stop to catch my breath.”
When he came to the Y, a program was tailored for him, his condition and his personal goals. “Improvement sneaks up on you. All-of-a-sudden, 15 reps are easier than the 10 you started with. This is a major benefit of the Total Life Care program and repetitive exercise. My biggest ‘mini-miracle’ from this class is climbing the 10 levels to the top of Hotel Dieu parkade without running out of breath.”
He echoes Valerie’s feelings about the friendships she has made at the YMCA.
“My biggest benefit from coming here is the family I have joined. The class celebrates various holidays that makes you feel like you are part of a family. On your birthday, you bring everyone a treat. On Halloween, you wear a costume. It is this part of my Y experience that has made the biggest impression on me.
“For me, this family feeling is carried over by the greetings I get from the front staff when I sign in. The cheerful good morning I get from all the staff brightens my day!
With regular fitness classes, programs tailored to chronic conditions and lots of support, the YMCA helps people of all ages and abilities stay active and build confidence with their mobility.