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  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • July 2018
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Jane finds herself back at the Y and discovers it’s about more than exercise

I have a confession to make: it’s been years since I’ve had a gym membership. And even that admission implies that I simply may have had my own workout system — that I’ve been running outside, using free weights in my basement or finding other ways to stay active every day. I’ve always considered myself to be mindful of holistic health and the importance of “mind, body, spirit” wellness. But, I’ve been majorly neglecting 1/3 of that when it comes to consistent good old-fashioned exercise.

I finally decided I wanted to join a fitness center and chose the YMCA of the Fox Cities — comprised of the Apple Creek, Appleton, Fox West, Heart of the Valley and Neenah-Menasha locations — because everyone at the Y has always seemed so approachable and friendly. Due to my absence on the gym scene, I was nervous to be a newbie all over again and wanted as many comforting factors as I could think of.

It turns out, there was no need to feel intimidated. The Neenah-Menasha YMCA immediately felt like a home away from home, and the employees were all extremely accommodating and sweet about my uncertain nature.

When I visited for the first time as a new member, I was given a very thorough tour of the facility by Julie. One of the most uneasy things about joining something new for me is not knowing where everything is, and what I’m able to access. It’s silly because I know, especially at the YMCA, that I can ask one of the employees, but the tour helped me to feel confident each and every time I walk through the doors. We visited everything: the café, locker rooms, pools, yoga and cycling studios, the track, cardio and weight equipment area and more. We also toured the area that is reserved for the arts, like the dance studio, ceramics area, rooms for music lessons, etc.

During my tour of the main fitness area and track, I scheduled a “wellness consultation” with Paula. She explained that it was a nice way to get started on the right foot (no pun intended!) to talk about my wellness goals and have an actual equipment orientation, something I was desperately in need of.

The consultation began with a few quick questions about my health history. If I had answered in a way that would have made exercising a risk, Paula explained that they require a physician’s approval to do so. She also told me about some of the amazing programs they offer, of which there are almost too many to mention. Along with an array of group fitness classes, they have programs for active older adults, child care, growth and development, those for special needs and Livestrong and Stay Strong, especially designed for those who have survived cancer.

We discussed my goals for becoming a member of the YMCA, which was to “move more,” so we focused on physical fitness at this time. We went over a schedule of group fitness classes ranging from Zumba, deep water classes and TRX, to yoga, Pilates, barre classes and so much more.

An equipment orientation was also a part of my consultation. There’s nothing worse than being motivated, showing up and then not understanding a machine! The Neenah-Menasha location is the only location home to Fit Zone, an area for strength training available for kids 7-13, older adults and anyone who isn’t competent in the weight room (me!). It provides an exceptionally easy way to incorporate it into your fitness routine. Paula explained comprehensively how each machine works, as well as gave me a brief demonstration of programs to choose from on the treadmill, elliptical and stair stepper.

Paula let me know that there is always information at the front desk of each branch, but to make it even more convenient, the YMCA of the Fox Cities has their own mobile app, which I promptly downloaded. On it, they have an area for announcements, special programs (like summer races they hold, fitness challenges, etc.), a schedule that includes classes for each of their locations and fine art workshops. You can also add your member card to your phone via the app to check in at any branch.

During my new member orientation I met a lot of employees at the Neenah-Menasha location. And not surprisingly, each one of them made me feel like I belonged there and would see success. Interaction and kindness is important to me, and it dawned on me while I was there how everyone was smiling – while they were exercising! The YMCA of the Fox Cities is a true community, one where I can see myself thriving and exceeding all of my goals.

Their mission “to put Christian principles into practice by promoting youth, adult and family activities that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all” couldn’t be more accurate and on point with what I experienced. And I’m just getting started!

YMCA of the Fox Cities

Apple Creek • Appleton • Fox West

Heart of the Valley • Neenah-Menasha


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