Rye Y Story Project: Debbie U.

Debbie U. I’m not working right now. Last year I had a work related injury to my knee and back. I was working out at the Carver Center and swimming every day, which was helping me. I started doing some weights and the bike but their fitness center is small so I looked at some other options.

My cousin Kem Boccochio (Member Services) said why don’t you check out the Rye Y? I actually grew up here. Every week I came here with my dad and my two sisters. Walking into the Pa Cope pool area really triggered fond memories for me. It feels like it was yesterday going up those back steps to the locker room. So I joined.

First and foremost, I’m able to swim. I have a disease called myasthenia gravis which is an autoimmune muscular disease. It is a cousin disease to muscular dystrophy. The main difference is that it is controllable through medication and exercise and appropriate rest. It is helpful to me that there are so many open swim times so I can come twice a day instead of over exerting my muscles by swimming two hours just once a day.

I’m an amateur swimmer. There was a swim class going on once in the Pa Cope and the teacher invited me in. She showed me about 15 things that I could improve. It was excellent, very, very helpful. She helped me with my form, especially my neck – now I don’t have to ice my neck! That was just one class!

The fact that I can swim twice a day, to get that 45 minutes to an hour in almost any time of the day is great. The fact that I can get on a bike or an elliptical whenever I’m here has been so helpful. The fitness trainers upstairs are great. Right now I’m not working so I don’t want to take personal training, but they are always willing to help.

I have a friend who lives in Connecticut who had a heart attack and has been in cardiac rehab. The Y is not just good for me, I got him involved! He has been coming at 5:30 every night. Working out with him has been a great experience because he is a lot more knowledgeable than I am. And the other good thing is that I got my sister to join the Y near her! She sends me text messages saying “Thank you, thank you!” I have so many friends here. Since I’m not working, being here is positive way to fill that space. It has been instrumental for my mental and physical health. Coming here is like coming home for me.

So my experience has been really, really positive. I haven’t yet tried any group exercise. I have limitations with my knee and back but Laura took the time to circle all these classes that are tempting. I’m here already twice a day. So I don’t know how much more I can come! I have a lot more to go, a lot more weight to lose – but for the first time in 5 years I’m completely heading in the right direction. It has been a really positive experience!