Y Change? Y Not!

By Horace Whitfield

We all know folks who work out all of the time...we see their cars coming in and out of the gym parking lot as we drive by, or they pass us on their ultra-fast bikes. But what about the rest of us who haven't quite flipped that switch yet? How do you go from wishing you were one of them to being one of them? The holidays leave many of us with the desire to eat better, exercise more or find time for relaxation and play. Well, at least the aftermath of the holidays, right? But, we're talking about desire here, not action. So, where is the motivation if it doesn't come packaged in that new present under the tree? Or you may be simply asking yourself, "On such a quest as improving my own nutrition and wellness, how can I change?

"You are likely to find the answer to the motivation, quest and more just inside the doors of our Outer Banks Family YMCA. As you walk into the brightly lit lobby, people will be the first sign post you encounter on your road to well-being. All sizes, shapes and ages, from grandparents to grandchildren, are represented (the median age of members is 43), and among the purple-shirted employees who accent rooms of activity are people there for a reason: some on the advice of their doctor, others who listened to their children or spouse or others, still, who heeded that inner voice that said, "Do something for yourself."

"We have an open door policy," says Laura Kirby, membership director. "Anyone may join." What if you're thinking about joining but you want to take a look first?

Outer Banks Y Family Fun

Have a friend who is a member? Go along as a guest, or sign up on your own for a tour of the facilities. If you're a local, you're in luck. "Weekly free passes are available for locals so that they will have an opportunity to commit to their wellness," adds Kirby. Family memberships are $91 per month. An individual can join for a monthly fee of $63.

Can't afford it? Think again. Through the generosity of others, the YMCA We Build People initiative makes scholarships available to those members who prove a financial need for assistance. Nearly one-fourth of the 4,000 members at the Outer Banks Family YMCA are able to maintain their commitment to wellness because of this service.

Who could pass up a deal like this? Okay, so some people might if they see it as taking a lot of discipline on their part. But, don't give up yet.

Wellness Director, Dick Drumm, has a small office adjoining a work-out room filled with exercise machines, treadmills and free weights. He outlines Fit Quest consultation that new members receive from a wellness coach. "We listen first," he explains. "It is important to know the concerns of an individual so that a proper program can be designed to meet their needs. We conduct simple, non-invasive tests for blood pressure, body mass index, strength and flexibility. Then we look at how nutrition is balanced by strength training and cardio exercise."

Drumm, who has worked at the Outer Banks Family YMCA since it opened in 2001, oversees staff conducting group activities and those who are available to individuals in the Wellness Center. "Our staff is there for safety first; they work in a non-threatening way to observe and help members with their workouts. Because we are part of the YMCA of South Hampton Roads, we have ready resources such as technicians to quickly repair or replace equipment," he adds. Fit Quest is also supported by a computerized component, ActivTrax, that allows users to monitor a workout program based on their own goals, abilities and strengths. This customized program allows for variation by providing a new workout routine every visit. You can log in when you finish your routine or keep records on your home computer or smartphone. There is even a nutritional component that lists every food product imaginable so that you can count the calories you are losing and really track your progress. Drumm explains that seeing the changes is what turns the initial discipline into motivation in the Y patrons. Once you see the pounds coming off and that muscle definition in your arms, it might be difficult to keep you away from your workout!

Treadmills at Outer Banks YMCA

But, if you need the help of others to accomplish your goals, they have you covered there too: Y-Change. Exactly! This program is a group effort that meets three days a week during a six-week period for exercise, education and support. A nutritional component is also a part of this team effort. Led by a motivated coach, the program is open to groups of all ages from 8 years old on up.

Drumm and his staff know that wellness means different things to different people. "Many people are what we call 'Health Seekers'," states Drumm . "They know they should seek a healthier life, but haven't, and they don't know how at this point. That is where we begin. Then we want them to get into the habit of coming in, whether it's by themselves or with a group. After all, it's what one often does outside the doors of the gym that really matters."

Outside the doors? Make it matter for your family, friends, neighbors, visitors and, most importantly, for yourself. That desire you feel has every opportunity to become determination...and that's where life starts really.