My YMCA story starts in the women’s change room at 8 AM on a Monday morning. It’s an important part of my YMCA story since it’s why I am at the gym in the first place.

Okay, it isn’t and shouldn’t be that bad. But I am dramatically stating the point. Because I was a 30-something-year-old woman with chronic pain, who was overweight (for my height). Despite my timing and pace, I decided to give the YMCA a try. Can’t say I loved the idea of the gym, but the community aspect of it appealed to me. So, I started with a low-intensity Latin dance cardio class. I was in the back of the room, sweating and tripping over my feet. I could move… but not well. About 22.5 minutes into the class, I called it a day. I lurked at the back, like the overheated beginner that I was.

An important part of my YMCA story is my experiences at the pool.

Because I’ve been a water baby all my life.

  • From Lifeguarding
  • To teaching Private Lessons as a teenage hustler.

That’s exactly why I love to swim. Anyone who is anyone will also tell you that swimming is good for you.

Diving into this aquatic abyss and feeling my muscles relax is why I enjoy my time at the cottage on the lake. As it is in my muscle memory to tread and stroke. The water glides past me until the smoker in me dies of exhaustion. Fell off the smoker wagon again – a constant struggle. Aquafit was a pleasant surprise. Because Margaret, Peggy, Sue, Gladys, and I formed a tight posse. I felt young. I still got out early…. No judgment.

I have always enjoyed seniors…

YMCA story. Amie's perspective of being part the Y community/ working out.

For me, choosing the Y was a way to cope with the pain, and force myself to slow down sometimes.

And this time of day works for me. I was saying this time last year: “It takes more time to do everything.” Now, I am saying: “I am taking more time to do everything.” This wasn’t by choice. I hit an actual nerve, and this forced me to slow down. Much like a senior mentality and state. Although this is a stereotype of course! Because the retirees plugged away in an Olympian-like way and did:

  • Weight lifting
  • And marathon running!

Their lifestyle upbringings likely allowed for that result. Or maybe they worked hard to train, condition and allowed time to make an impact. Who knows. I can only ever speak for me. Although I did find it both relaxing and encouraging. The incognito-ness of the whole experience also played out well for me. As I had not yet stepped foot in the actual weight lifting areas. Other members of a gym or recreation centre likely feel self-conscious at some point and probably have a YMCA story similar to mine. And that’s yet another example of health in progress. Nothing will happen overnight. But commitment, time and comfort need to be top of the line on the journey.

So, Y – I think you sold me, and you didn’t find me – I found you.

This story originally appeared on