Rye Y Story Project: Karen

karensI’ve been a member on and off for probably 20 years. I first came for exercise and one of the byproducts was that I made friends. The Y also offers a nice variety of classes, which is good because I had back problems. And between the Zumba, swim classes and other programs, I could challenge myself to go beyond the pain.

That’s why I decided to join the TRIBE, to do the triathlon in Sandy Hook, NJ. The training was terrific. For the swim part, I learned better techniques, like blowing bubbles and not holding my breath across the length of the pool. I hadn’t swum at Rye Beach in ten years, so the open water swims there were fun—Jelly Fish and all! Though I used to ride my bike hands-free, I hadn’t ridden my one-speed bike in nearly five years. I learned through spin classes how to use the different gears on a “real bike.”

I joined the TRIBE to prove to myself that despite having five herniated disks and bone on bone knees, I could go beyond my physical limitations. And that I could succeed in my goal of completing the triathlon, with the support and encouragement of the Y coaches. My mantra to myself was “If I compete, I will complete!” Against my doctor’s advice, and proving the naysayers wrong, I finished the race. At the end, I wanted to cry with emotion. All I could think was “I did it!”

I also participated in the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program. I met a nice group of women and we now get together once a month for dinner. And I joined the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, which was very informative. I had never thought about reading food labels and now when I cheat, I do it with guilt! All kidding aside, the program was very good because it taught me about lifestyle change, healthy eating and exercise (which wasn’t a problem because I had always been physically active).
During Hurricane Sandy, the Y was a home away from home. We didn’t have electricity for nearly a month. The staff members were so nice—one even gave me private tutoring on my laptop!

Sometimes in life there are a lot of challenges and you just have to set your mind on achieving your goals. The Y has offered me a home base and supportive environment for pursuing my goal of becoming physically stronger.