Val takes us inside the Round II Challenge group's final session.


Field Day

Today was the last class of the WSOYMCA Challenge Part II, so Molly organized a field day for us. I’ve mentioned before how much these sessions sometimes feel like recess, and today was a poster child for that phenomenon.

We warmed up with a run around the gym to AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” It’s a tune I know well from my son’s soccer days, and I thought I kinda knew it by heart, but we were to do burpees at each chorus of “Thunder” or “Thunderstruck” and that’s how I learned how MANY times they say those words in that song!

After that we had a race, involving planks and frog hops. I have made a lot of improvements in fitness in the last 12 weeks, but I’m sorry to say, my broad jump was not a focus and is not up to par. Those of us who couldn’t clear all that much distance were treated to extra time in this little exercise, as the winners fell out to give the rest of us a chance.

After than we were split into the traditional Team Abby and Team Matt, for a rousing game of dodgeball! Rachel Roettger mentioned that this brought back some unhappy elementary school memories. It did for me too! Bruce Jeffery called on his experience with the Boys’ and Girls’ Club, and helped us adjust the rules a bit to fit our group, but well, I’m still terrible at that game. It’s ok. We also had a tug of war. It was actually an amazing experience to feel all the strength of this assembled group. We’re pretty mighty, even when we are pulling against each other! Bruce loaned us the club’s (now there is a new meaning for that phrase in my lexicon!) parachute, and we had fun trying to race underneath it to grab a spot when our color was called. We also had fun being caught by it, and pulling it down around us to make a tent. Parachutes are just fun, and you don’t have to be in grade school to think so.

Chris Burns and Rachel Roettger were awarded gift certificates to the Y for their AWESOME performance in doing all the activities on the bingo cards. I haven’t spent a lot of time talking about those cards, but they were a big part of trying to engineer an actual change in lifestyle. Every 2 weeks Molly issued a bingo card full of suggestions for upping our exercise and nutrition game. These were not easy, and actually completing a “bingo” was challenging enough for most of us, but these guys took it to the next level and did every single thing on each card. Kudos to them, and I hope they really enjoy using their free Y resources!

I came to this experience feeling that my fitness game wasn’t too bad. But I now am more mindful of drinking water. I’ve whittled a little off my waist and improved my cardiovascular performance. I notice I can hold my breath longer when I’m swimming – I don’t need to breathe as often when swimming the crawl as I used to. I can lift more weight. Maybe most importantly, I’ve learned that I can carve out more time for exercise than I thought I had, and that doing so really does improve my energy level and overall ability to do stuff. There is a confidence that comes with that, that makes me feel that I can explore other fitness activities and develop competence in them. I’m not yet ready to climb rocks with my daughter-in-law, but I have some ideas about increasing my arm and grip strength so that I might lead an expedition to an aerial fitness studio in Chicago over the holidays.

On this last post, I feel the need to put in an extra plug for our sponsor. The mission of the Decatur Family YMCA is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all.

To this end, the YMCA runs programs emphasizing Youth Development, Healthy Living, and Social Responsibility, emphasizing the values of caring, honesty, responsibility and respect.

A reasonable person might ask how organizing a bunch of adults to run around the gym like third graders over lunch 2 or 3 times a week could possibly be related to these lofty goals. I hope this blog has helped to illuminate this question. I am deeply grateful to Molly, my challenge mates, the YMCA and WSOY staff who dreamed up this idea and then did the work to make it happen, and to all the support people both organizations who keep things running smoothly, from the Neuhoff people who helped take video to the front desk staff who make each of us feel welcome when we walk in, to the folks who are now making sure we have nice fluffy clean towels when it’s time to de-sweat. My body, mind and spirit are in much better shape than when I attended our first workout 12 weeks ago. Thank you all.

For anybody out there considering exploring their options at the YMCA, I have 2 words.

Do it!

There is no better place in town to try something new. It’s very reasonably priced, and there are resources available to help finance membership for people who need that help. Instructors here have deep knowledge of how to make things work if you have some physical limitations, and will make sure you do not hurt yourself. There are so many different things to try, that you are likely to find something you really like doing. And it’s just really hard to beat time spent in a clean, beautiful , state-of-the-art facility among other folks who gather to strengthen themselves and each other.

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