As soon as Graham walked into the Downtown Y, he felt a sense of belonging.

As soon as Graham walked into the Downtown Y, he felt a sense of belonging.

Graham’s Y is Fit for Life

After 50 years of disciplined exercising, Graham was faced with the inevitable challenges of aging and had to change his routine in order to continue working out. He’d run marathons in my 20s, and in mid-life had gone for morning jogs in the fields of Bali, in Bangkok and New Delhi traffic, and on mountain paths in Nepal. Then for the last decade he’d been hooked on CrossFit. But everything changed this year when he was diagnosed with Osteoporosis in my lower spine, a disease that weakens your bones. All of a sudden, CrossFit workouts became painful.

Graham started working out when he was attending grad school at the University of Toronto. He and his classmates decided to start a running group as a way to survive their school work. It soon became a therapeutic social event, a much needed break from the stress of being a student. But it also turned out that he loved it! If he wasn’t in school or studying, he was running.

By the time he was middle aged and a sociology professor at the University of Alberta, he developed Chronic Bursitis in his right heel. This classic runner injury caused pain and swelling, which made it difficult for to continue following his passion of regular distance running.

After moving to Kelowna, he discovered CrossFit and became the fittest he’d ever been. However, considering his age, he developed arthritis in his shoulders and osteoporosis in his lower spine. So the ‘workouts of the day’ became too intense. He’d always lived by the mantra of wanting to stay ‘Fit for Life’ and was determined to find a new way to keep active at the age of 71.

Graham decided it was time for something new and checked out the Downtown Y. He was familiar with the YMCA since his three grandkids attended and loved Little Scholars at Okanagan College. “As soon as I walked into the Downtown Y, I felt a sense of belonging,” Graham says. “From the beginning, it was obvious that the equipment was being used by people with all types of abilities. An active senior on a treadmill, a heavy lifter in a wheelchair, and a group of fitness enthusiasts. It felt so welcoming.”

He knew that he needed some support with speciality workout routines and took a one-hour Coaching Session with Tristen, who is a kinesiologist. Graham still uses the tips and sequences he learned as he goes about his daily routine – cardio, back stretching exercises, and strength. He also participates in yoga, core strength and high intensity classes,

Graham says it’s been a pleasure dealing with staff at the Y, who are very friendly and professional. “It’s obvious that they believe in the work they do for our community. I am an Organizational Consultant and have written a book on the subject – Creating Healthy Organizations. It talks about creating healthy and sustainable organizations from a human perspective. When the culture of an organization supports employees to thrive, clients or customers benefit from outstanding service. This is the feeling I get at the Y,” he says.

“Although I can no longer do long runs or CrossFit, the YMCA has helped me remain ‘Fit for Life’ as I age, something I value whole heartedly. I love the welcoming atmosphere, the friendly staff, and the coaching I received. They have provided me with many options for adapting my fitness routine. For people like myself, the seniors’ membership rate is a great bargain! Whenever I go for a workout at the Y, I feel part of a welcoming community.”

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