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Several years ago, my life changed dramatically.
Within a short period of time, my father passed away and my aging mother’s health began to rapidly deteriorate. As a result, my priorities shifted. I decided to quit my job, move from a small town near Vancouver Island to Kelowna, and become my mother’s full-time caregiver.
Unfortunately, this drastic change in my life took a toll on my physical health and mental wellbeing.
The challenge of looking after my mother, combined with the demands of finding a new job and picking up courses at school, while trying to set down roots in a new city, all made me feel completely overwhelmed and isolated. I needed to find balance, energy and a social outlet if I wanted to continue meeting all of life’s obligations and not burn out.
After all, my mother was depending on me and she deserved the best version of myself to keep her happy and comfortable.
I recognized that a new health plan was what I needed but given my current financial situation I didn’t think I could afford a membership to a fitness facility. Then I found out about the YMCA’s financial assistance program – it sounded too good to be true, but I decided to check it out anyway. I went to the Kelowna Family Y in Rutland and met with their friendly staff who explained the program to me and before I knew it, I had become a member, paying an amount that I could afford.
I was on my way!
On my first day at the Y, I met – for free - with a friendly trainer who did a connection consultation and determined a program that worked with my busy schedule and fitness level they also introduced me to the Y’s group fitness classes which I found extremely motivating. As someone who’s never been a fan of gyms, I found the camaraderie and energy of the fitness classes to be incredibly inspiring. There’s just something I love about pushing myself in a room full of others who are all in it together.
I have now been making it to at least four classes a week and have witnessed my physical and mental health improve substantially. I love yoga, TRX, Aquafit, group strength, and Bootcamp to name a few.
As a caregiver, I feel more patient and more receptive to my mother’s needs as opposed to reacting to them. Her short-term memory is mostly gone and it’s a constant struggle, but I’m less frustrated and can be the calm and reassuring presence in her life that she so desperately needs.
My membership has also provided me with social connections I was lacking before. The staff are always amazing and add to the friendly environment. The class instructors are extremely inspiring, and I was surprised when I found out that many were volunteers - given how great they are!
Coming in so often, I see the array of individuals the Y helps. For example, one of the most inspirational things that I’ve noticed is the number of seniors and individuals recovering from surgery. They have so many barriers to getting active and its impressive to see them working so hard on their health with no excuses.
I truly believe this is an ideal charity to donate to as the Y helps a diverse group of individuals as opposed to one specific group. I see them enrich so many lives through seniors’ programs, fitness classes, community programs, social connections, childcare and the child and youth programs. To those who donate to make memberships like mine possible, thank you.
For those looking to improve upon their physical and mental health, the Y offers a variety of programs and classes, all of which are subsidized for those who struggle financially. Group fitness classes, state of the art weight and cardio equipment, specialty health programs and health coaching services are available at all three of their health and community centres to help you find what works best for you. The YMCA of Okanagan is a charity dedicated to building a healthier community through health centres, mental wellness programs, health programs, childcare, employment programs and programs for children and youth. You can get involved and help us help others by donating or volunteering.