Elaine from Oak Square YMCA

After over 55 years of no exercise, I joined the YMCA of Greater Boston as a last resort to finally improve my health and fight my arthritis.  At the time, I had started making many lifestyle changes: 1) eating a healthy diet, 2) taking mindfulness classes, 3) receiving regular massage and 4) increasing my sleep schedule from 5 hours to 7 hours a night.  However, without exercise, my condition wasn’t improving at the rate that I needed and want it to.  I finally bit the bullet and returned to the YMCA, where I had once been a member for an entire year and attended only once.

My first class at the YMCA was the wonderful Water Aerobics for Arthritis group exercise class.  It was easy yet challenging, but more importantly, I felt great about myself after doing it.  An added reward was that after I had started the class, my next bone scan indicated that I was rid of the arthritis in my hips!  Today, I am a regular member of the Oak Square YMCA, attending all kinds of group exercise classes from Water Zumba to Water Aerobics, in both regular and deep water.

* In case you’ve never tried Water Zumba, I highly recommend it!  The group exercise class is funny and fun, with lively music.  It really gets me out of my usual comfort zone.

The YMCA Community

I “graduated” to the regular group exercise classes quickly from the Water Aerobics for Arthritis class and could write a book about how wonderful the classes are.  One day, a younger woman came in for a job interview with my agency and she told me she couldn’t do some of the tasks in the job description due to her back pain.  I told her I once did as well, but joining and attending the YMCA’s Water Aerobics classes had rid me of my back pains.  To my surprise and pleasure, the next time I attended the class, she was there!  She now attends regularly and it has reduced her back pains as well!

I never was a “class” person.  I just wanted to get in, do the class and get out.  At the YMCA, you cannot leave the facilities without making new friends.  From the moment that you walk in through the doors of the Oak Square YMCA, I receive a friendly, personal welcome from Mildred.  I am always happy to see my senior former members of the arthritis group exercise class and they give me hope for the future.  The members of the aerobics group exercise class are inspiring as they each have incredible stories. 

The best is seeing the little ones who are learning to swim for the first time.  Not only am I a frequent Y member at the Oak Square branch, but I work closely within the community and love to see the graduates of my programs there.  In fact, one of the first little ones that came into my program is now a counselor at YMCA summer camp!  What a treat to have watched the whole process!  All in all, without seeking friends, one is guaranteed to make them at the YMCA.

Social Responsibility: Access to Health

A special mention goes to Meredith Pollard, who bends over backwards to make sure that the parents in need receive memberships; making sure that less fortunate parents who live in the city have the same opportunity to get healthy.  It’s important that all families have access to wellness centers so parents can model for their children that nurturing oneself through healthy activities is the ultimate way to be happy, not visiting fast food chains.  With the YMCA available to all families, from all backgrounds, it goes to show us that everyone wants to take care of themselves and cares about their children.  Children are not only given the chance to realize that their parents care about them, but about themselves as well – something I never role modeled for my own children (thankfully, their dad took on this role in the family).  

Group Exercise Classes: Water Zumba

Water Zumba is my favorite part of the YMCA of Greater Boston because it’s something out of my usual comfort zone, but not too hard or taxing.  I love, love, love the music and for 45 minutes, I get to feel like I can be on Dancing with the Stars in a corny way!  Not to mention, Cristin is phenomenal at working each muscle group, always with a smile and a joke.  Starting my Monday mornings with Water Zumba jump starts my weekdays with a smile and a bit of exercise under my belt. Other great experiences include:

  • Alison’s great energy that keeps us moving, on our toes and positively energized!  Her 60’s music selection is awesome and changes accordingly to the day, season or holiday. 
  • I finally took two of Peter’s classes this summer and understand why everyone has been raving about him! 
  • Group exercise classes with Jackie are a real treat and I have made friends with many of the dozens of women who have been attending for over 10 years! 
  • Deep waters with Jeanie is always a great workout and I enjoy the close camaraderie of the Stalwart Early Risers. 

Overall, I’ve had a great balance between the various teachers and great workouts!  I have gone from having osteoporosis to none with the latest bone scan.  My mood is more positive, my focus has improved and coming to the YMCA has added structure to my days and weeks.  I sing your praises to all and especially encourage young parents not to wait to take care of themselves!

The Transition: From Sick to Positive Outlook and Healthy

What brought me in originally was my last ditch of an effort to improve my health.  My inflammation numbers are now normal for the first time, I have no arthritis and my bone scans are great!  However, the greatest difference about me since I became a Y member is that originally, I came in to try and get well.  Back then, I considered myself to be sick.  Now, I come to the YMCA because I am well and it’s a much better outlook on life.  Instead of going to physical therapy all the time with the attitude of “being sick,” I can go to the YMCA and be healthy!  I don’t think of going into the YMCA to “get better.”  It has completely changed my attitude about wellness!  The mental health perks are a happy and unexpected bonus! 


Related Links

Swimming: An Essential Life Skill 

Flexibility Training 101

A Healthy Home is a Happy Home