Why The Y: Barb's Story

Barb smiles in front of a YMCA pop-up sign wearing a red shirt and black pants.

TUESDAY, JUNE 21, 2022

Why The Y: Barb's Y Story

The YMCA has been a vital part of my mobility for many years. I have struggled with osteoarthritis and osteoporosis but can't take anti-inflammatory drugs because the side effects have landed me in the hospital many times over the years.

My Y journey started in the 80s when I took my first fitness class. I thought I was getting all the exercise I needed with three energetic kids, working full-time, volunteering, baking and canning (among other things) but the specialist I was seeing told me I had to start exercising, so here I was.

From there, I tried other fitness classes and the Y instructors helped me with the machines and navigating workouts. I had quite the full schedule, but my body needed this so I would go to the Y before work or after supper.

My Y journey continued in the 90s when I started aquafit classes. When I retired in 2002, you could find me at the Y three or four times a week - either on the fitness floor or in the pool. 

Unfortunately, because of my health conditions, by 2009 both my knees were bone on bone, and it was very painful to walk. Y instructors would get in the pool with me and show me exercises I could do until I had my knees replaced. The instructors were great - after my successful surgery, I quickly returned to the pool.

Fast forward to 2019, I was still a Y member and worked out regularly when I became really sick. In January 2020 I had major surgery and then COVID hit soon after. I was too weak to do any virtual classes and my body wasn't as strong as it used to be. In July I had a terrible fall and broke the femur bone in my right leg and the humerus bone in my right arm. I had surgery and was in the hospital for six weeks in bed. I couldn't move my leg, my arm was in a sling, and I had a collar around my neck. After five days I started doing leg exercises. The next week, I was raising both hips. I could do this as my core was strong and intact because of years of exercising at the Y.

After five months of physio, I finally got back into the pool. It was scary, but I could hardly wait to get back. When I walked into the Y, Diane was right there to help me. The Y staff helped me get into the pool and back out after the exercises. 

At my follow-up appointment, the surgeon told me it was exceptional that a woman my age was progressing so far in my recovery. My other doctors wanted to know my history because I was progressing so well. I told them it was because of all the years at the Y. 

The bonus of going to the YMCA is that you walk into a very friendly atmosphere and the staff are eager to help you. You meet new friends and share conversations and laughter while keeping your body fit. 

I will be 85 in November and hope to still be coming to the Y at 90 or older.

- Barb, St. Thomas Y Member