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Editor’s note: This is part one of a three part series, part two and three will be printed on the Healthy Life page.

The Y looks different at different times of the day. If you walk in before work hours, you will see the dedicated people getting their workout in before heading off to work. From 7 till about 10:30 a.m. you will see our active older adults taking over the lobby and class space. At noon hour again you see working people “getting it done” during their lunch hour. In addition, after work/school you see the Y filled with all ages of folks. Even though we have these different demographics of people, they are all thankful for the same thing; having a Y in their community, being a member, and enjoying the relationships they have created in a welcoming healthy environment.

Sean Dessart was very generous to tell us his Y story!

“My family and I have been going to the YMCA for about a year and a half now. We started going to the YMCA after our oldest daughter wasn’t advancing in the swim lessons she was attending at another area pool. The classes were too full with too few swim instructors so that’s when we decided to check out the Marinette/Menominee YMCA. We were not members at the time but were welcomed by the YMCA staff and had all the questions we had at the time answered. We enrolled her in swim lessons and noticed that the classes were much smaller, which allowed the swim instructors more time to help children who needed more help, and with that, we noticed a huge improvement within just a few weeks. She went from using a flotation belt with two floaties to no belt at all!

“We also looked into other programs that the YMCA offers children and found that they offer gymnastics. We enrolled our daughter into gymnastics and she’s been in love with it ever since. She started off in Gymne Cricket and is now in pre-team gymnastics and she’s always excited to share with us what she has learned! This is when we decided to become members.

“After becoming members my wife and I decided to look into what the YMCA had to offer us. We were surprised at the boat load off classes we were able to take, and we found out that if you’re a member there is also a discount for the classes. I wasn’t sure about it at first and it took me awhile to really get into the fitness part of the YMCA, but my wife jumped right in. We took an indoor group cycling class and I was nervous about what to expect but as I said before we were welcomed and were treated by the other members like they had known us all our lives! This made things much easier for us both and made us happy about our decision to join the YMCA. The cycling class was awesome and the people were great. The instructor was super friendly with a happy positive attitude and was able to motivate the class to give 100 percent every class and the equipment was awesome. About 6 months later my wife’s friend was able to get my wife to try a class called BODYPUMPTM. Instantly my wife was hooked and began attending the class ever week and although she was a bit sore at first she kept going.

“Eventually I had reached the point where I was disappointed in myself because I had reached a weight of 285 pounds. After walking into stores during the summer and seeing clothes I liked but couldn’t buy them because they didn’t have my size I knew it was time to change. My wife was able to talk me into attending BODYPUMPTM with her and again I was nervous but yet again, I was welcomed by everyone in the class. So on Aug. 20, 2018, before my first body pump class, I wrote down my weight on the calendar and vowed to change. I’m thrilled to say that I haven’t looked back and now I’m hooked on body pump too as well as GRIT, another class the YMCA offers. With the great atmosphere at the YMCA I didn’t feel embarrassed about working out to make a positive change in my life. The staff and other member’s have kept me motived and I have gone from not working out since basic training, nearly 11 years ago, to working out every day. Now, less than 4 months after I said I needed to change, I have lost 40 pounds. and am down to a size 38 jeans down from a 42. I’m not a self-motived person, so for me I feel like none of this could’ve been possible without the help, support, encouragement, and tips that I’ve received from YMCA staff. I also feel that our daughter benefited greatly by switching her swim lessons to the YMCA.”

Let’s make our community a better place. Start the New Year off by taking responsibility for your health and well-being. Learn from the above testimonial and start a journey to your own Y story. The Y is not just a workout facility. It is a place where lives are transformed in many ways. Happy New Year!

Allyson Bickel is the Community Engagement Director at The Greater Marinette-Menominee YMCA, 1600 West Drive, Menominee, MI, 49858.