Okanagan YMCA offers pathway to active lifestyle

Kelowna resident Sheryl Turner says becoming a regular gym goer has made her feel better about all aspects of her life.

Sheryl Turner.

By  Erica Hudson/Contributor

In a world with numerous priorities, how do we ensure that we set aside the time to focus on our health and happiness? Physical activity plays a large role. It is no surprise that the majority of us need to make room for more fitness in our lives.

It often takes building activity into our regular routines and finding people to hold us accountable.

That is what helped convert Sheryl Turner into a gym goer and what ultimately made her “feel better” about all aspects of her life.

“My husband coaches soccer in the bubble beside H2O twice a week in the fall and winter,” explains Turner. “I would often go with him and sit and read, but I decided not to spend another year sitting, and instead to spend that time being active. That is when I signed up for a YMCA membership at H2O Adventure + Fitness Centre.”

Turner started in the pool but soon felt comfortable enough to try the fitness floor where she was set up in YMCA Health Coaching — a free six month program included in YMCA membership.

“I’ve never been to a gym in my life, so at first I didn’t know what to do,” she explains. “By joining the health coaching program as soon as I started on the fitness floor, I felt more comfortable right away. YMCA staff showed me around and taught me how to use the machines. They also developed a fitness plan that was specifically designed for me; based on my goals and abilities.”

Because of an ailment she has had since birth, Turner has always had problems with her shoulders, so her YMCA health coach designed a personalized plan with this in mind.

“I have built up my muscles so I don’t have any shoulder pain anymore,” Turner explains. “I just feel healthier and I am able to go bike riding and throw Frisbees; I can do anything.”

Since joining the gym, Turner has participated in yoga and core classes which she loved. She had never tried either of them before and is happy she did. She has also enjoyed the circuit and she tries out different machines that she doesn’t have access to elsewhere.

Though she loves the facility and the wide selection of activities to take part in, the YMCA’s community feel and the people are what have kept her coming back.

“It really is a community,” Turner says. “Even though I am finished the health coaching program, the support is still there any time I need it. Every time I come to the H2O I walk through the door and there is a friendly face to whom I can ask questions. Everyone is really helpful. I can even email and get a response from the fitness coaches. It’s just amazing.”

Turner has set a personal goal to do something active every day. Whether it is walking on her treadmill at home, going for a walk or a hike outside, biking or doing a workout at H2O, she is determined to stay active, healthy and happy from here on out. She wants to “age well” and intends to keep building her strength in mind, body and spirit with the help of her new YMCA community.

“I never would have thought I was capable of doing all of this,” says Turner. “From where I started until now, I can’t believe the difference it has made in this short period of time. I started the health coaching program back in December and have come so far in my strength, endurance and mindset. I feel proud of myself in many ways.”

Tuner stepped out of her comfort zone and is happy she did. Although speaking about her experience is not something she would have regularly done, she is determined to help others realize the same lifestyle change that she has.

“Being more active has really affected my mindset,” Turner says. “I am more confident, less stressed and I feel better in general about everything. It has been a really positive experience for me and I can only encourage other people to give it a try.”

The YMCA of Okanagan has a wide range of programs and services available to help you reach your health and fitness goals this fall. Everyone over the age of 10 years old can access free health coaching at the Kelowna Family Y or H2O Adventure + Fitness Centre and there are over 80 fitness classes included in membership to choose from.

The YMCA is also running two free health assessments for individuals age 50 and up or for those who have ailments and feel they need that extra support. One will be held at the Kelowna Family YMCA on October 14 and the other at H2O Adventure + Fitness Centre on November 18.

To learn more about these and other resources available for your health visit ymcaokanagan.ca or call 250-491-9622 to talk to a member services staff member.

Erica Hudson is the communications coordinator for the Okanagan YMCA.