Y Challenge connects people, transforms lives

Liz Jones, Membership and Wellness Director at the Rockwall County YMCA.

(Rockwall County) The holidays can be a stressful time for almost everyone.  The Rockwall County Family YMCA recently hosted a Transformation Challenge, which helped participants get fit, healthy and ready for the holidays. 

Many great participants signed up, both from our Y membership and from our staff.  One way that the YMCA is different is the sense of community that being here brings; another is the support that people feel when they are here.

The Transformation Challenge ended Nov. 18, and I was so moved by some of the entries that I received.  

Johnnie Ryan was our grand prize winner from among our members.  For her participation and completion of a final essay, she won a three month membership at the Rockwall YMCA. 

I asked permission from Johnnie and other participants to share their stories because I was so inspired by them.  I hope you will be, too.

Physically, Johnnie lost 15 pounds during the Challenge and lost numerous inches around her hips, belly, and waist.  That is an awesome accomplishment between the end of September when she joined the Challenge to approximately six weeks later.  Johnnie mentioned that diabetes ran in her family and one of her goals was to healthier, more active, and to lose some weight. 

More important than the visible changes that Johnnie made was the connection she made at the YMCA.  She found exercise to be a stress reliever and the support that she needed to accomplish her personal goals.  Johnnie’s husband is a stroke victim; she is his primary caretaker, and she spends much of her time with him, as well as working as an insurance agent out of her home.  At the YMCA, she found friendship and support along with a variety of classes that she could fit into her schedule. 

One of our fitness professionals, Marilyn King, gave Johnnie the support she needed to be successful, from showing her where everything was at the Y, to giving her information on diet and exercise, to connecting her with other members.  Anyone that knows our Marilyn knows not only is she great at what she does and is a fountain of wellness information, but also, one of her most wonderful qualities is that she is a People Professional.  She helps people feel like one of the family and truly cares about their individual success.

Marilyn Lane

Marilyn Lane is another of our prize-winning members.  Marilyn won a one hour massage with Kris Porter Hadfield of Rising Phoenix Massage. 

One of the things that struck me the most with Marilyn’s transformation was that she focused on progress, not perfection.  She did make physical changes during the challenge, but what was most important to her was finding ways to deal with high stress levels and going from being very sedentary to being regularly active.  She went from not having much physical activity to attending classes at the Y three days per week and walking on her own two days a week.  She also met with Marilyn King to receive nutritional tips and activity guidelines to help her meet her goals.  She says she feels better and her attitude and outlook have improved. 

In Marilyn (Lane)’s own words: “I joined the Y Sept. 1 and I am truly thankful for the coaches and instructors and classes.  I really enjoy the camaraderie.  The quality of the classes is excellent.  I feel included and welcomed even when I don’t catch the moves the first time.  I really appreciate the fact that the Y is a place for everyone- young, old, fit and not, but desiring to be- and it offers such a variety.”

We also had a separate category for staff participation in the Challenge and I am very proud of our YMCA staff members who participated.  Our own Marilyn King, Glenda Majchrzak, and Norm Brennecke were our staff prize winners.  They all did a great job!   

During Glenda’s transformation, not only did she lose 14 pounds, but when she started the Challenge she was dealing with feelings of unhappiness.  She lost her husband and continues to work through the grieving process, as well as having a high volume job as the Business Service Director at the Rockwall YMCA (and having me come in her office and bug her about 14 times a day with questions about how to fill out forms, and do certain aspects of my job that she is an expert in).  Seeing how committed she was to reaching her goals from a first-hand perspective was very inspirational to me and although she had a very busy time at work, with meetings to attend and reports due on a regular basis, (and the pesky Membership and Wellness Director buzzing around), she made the time to really make significant progress in her personal goals.

I am always so touched by people’s personal stories and life transformations and I was honored to get to hear all of the great things that folks accomplished.  I am also honored everyday that I get to work for the YMCA because of the special place that it is and the mission that we work for. 

One thing I love the most about the Y is the connection that people find here and that we have a promise to have participation for all.  Our YMCA Partners campaign pays for scholarships for people who can otherwise not afford membership, activity participation or for our special needs camp, Angel Camp, where kids who have special needs can attend camp at no cost to their family. 

I want to make a personal request that as you read this article, you consider helping with our YMCA Partners campaign this year and help us to make community connections to raise scholarship funds so that everyone has the opportunity to be a part of the Y.  I invite you to e-mail me at ejones@ymcadallas.org and I would love to come talk to you in person about the impact of our Partners program and the different ways that we can use your help.

 Blue Ribbon News special contributor Liz Jones is the Membership and Wellness Director at the Rockwall YMCA, located at 1210 N. Goliad.  She is a writer, certified yoga instructor and wellness coach.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership and Strategic Management, with a graduate certificate in Ethics and Leadership. She is trained in Reiki, Guided Imagery, and various healing methods. She has trained in Shotokan karate, other forms of martial arts and self-defense. 

Connect with Liz Jones at ejones@ymcadallas.org or 972-772-9622.

More from Liz Jones:

To submit your news and events or a guest column on your area of expertise, email editor@BlueRibbonNews.com.

One Response to "Y Challenge connects people, transforms lives"

  1. Rhonda   December 6, 2011 8:18 AM at 8:18 AM

    Lives are changed at the Y and I dont think many people in our community are aware of everything that’s available to them. Swimming at the y and getting on an appropriate fitness program has helped me overcome some of my mobility problems. Plus I have made many friends who help me with my progress.

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