“A YMCA membership is an all-access pass to YMCA locations across Canada and I highly recommend visiting other Y facilities when traveling.”

            Sandra Sykes


sandra sykes | william lutsky family ymca


For the final week of the challenge, I am attending to a family matter in London, Ontario and it's unlikely that I'll be able to keep up the momentum of my previous workouts while I'm here.

I have managed to attend an orientation with the nearby Stoney Creek YMCA and set up a workout that is part of their "Y Thrive" Boost program.

A YMCA membership is an all-access pass to YMCA locations across Canada and I highly recommend visiting other Y facilities when traveling, as the customer engagement and inclusiveness are very welcoming when you're away from home.

I do miss the familiarity of the William Lutsky branch and working with my trainer and Health Challenge partners.



Is eleven weeks long enough to make all of your fitness goals a reality? For most of us, probably not. However, it's plenty of time to affect some real, lasting change and create healthy habits for life.

The YMCA is offering a 5 visit trial pass right now, which I recommend to anyone considering getting back into the gym.  To my surprise, my daughter decided to sign up and is finding new activities to enjoy every day. Like me, she was also intimidated by a gym atmosphere and hadn't worked out in years. Now she comes home from the YMCA full of stories about what she accomplished and the people she met. The strong community aspect of the YMCA is huge draw for both of us.

This was my last week training with my Health Challenge group as I'll be out of town next week. I'll really miss having Andi and Greg there as support and to laugh at my crappy jokes. I wish them every success with their fitness and other endeavours.

I can't stress enough how important it's been to have a personal trainer. When I met Janine Otto, I thought, "She's going to be a good fit", and I wasn't wrong. Janine kept me challenged but injury-free and set me up with solid foundation to be able to tackle harder programs in the future. I can't imagine doing this without her!



This week it has been challenging to work out as much as I would have liked. 

There were some family medical issues that made it difficult to schedule gym or pool time. Luckily, Tuesday is my saving grace. 

I had a group training session with my personal trainer Janine at 10 a.m., and then I attended her Cardio & Strength class at 11 a.m. and finished up with a 45 minute Aqua Fitness workout. 

It's amazing to think that 10 weeks ago any one of these classes individually would have exhausted me.  Not anymore!



At the beginning of this challenge, I wasn't very confident that the modified exercises I was able to perform were going to improve my health to any great degree.

It turns out that "showing up" is the first and biggest step to long-term health and doing whatever you are able will eventually get you headed toward your fitness goals.

This week I really started to feel a difference in my strength and stamina. I'm able to work out longer and harder without having to stop or quit. In the past, I wouldn't even attempt a lot of fitness activities because I felt that I wouldn't be able to sustain the effort for the time required. Now, an hour in the pool or gym flies by before I even realize it.



Week eight and I just seem to be hitting my stride, so to speak.

It's hard to believe that it would take that long to get settled into a program. A lot of time and work has been invested to make sure I'm completing the movements correctly to avoid injury. The payoff has increased my confidence when performing both dry land and pool workouts. Having my trainer, Janine Otto, there to support and advise me every week has been a huge advantage and I'm sure that without her I would have either been injured or quit or both. I appreciate both Janine and the YMCA for providing such an amazing opportunity. 

I'm generally a content person but reserved and somewhat introverted. In the last couple of weeks, I've just felt happy for no particular reason - enough of a departure from my usual frame of mind to be noticeable. Those nagging negative voices surface occasionally, but they are more easily dismissed.

When it comes to life's challenges, I'm much more resilient. Whether it's a change in schedules, no oat milk at the grocery store or someone hit my parked car - bring it on, I got this!



A short holiday week means less workouts and that makes me feel blah! All of my good intentions to work out at home, when I can't make it to the Y, have fizzled.

I had hoped that I'd be further along in my fitness journey by now, but my gains and losses are in such small increments that only my trainer and I can recognise the changes that occurred.

I feel stronger than before starting the challenge, and the need to increase that feeling of well being is driving me forward! 



It's hard to believe that we are at the halfway mark. It feels like we have just settled in to our routines.

I'm starting to fine tune my individual program and nutrition intake. My trainer and I have worked on developing specific goals based on the results of a body composition analysis.

With 6 weeks to go, I'm looking forward to seeing how much progress we make in the next 6 weeks!



I continue to attend the YMCA 4-5 days a week as part of my Health & Fitness Challenge!

As we have progressed, I now incorporate both a gym and a pool workout on at least two of those days to round out my training.

My body has adjusted to working harder so I no longer feel like my head is about to explode every time I exert myself!  LOL

While the urge to quit hasn't reared its ugly head yet, this week wasn't without its disappointments.

I haven't been losing much weight so far; in fact this week I gained three pounds! The upside is being able to discuss the development with my trainer and make a plan to find the cause. 



I go to the YMCA five days a week and workout either in the gym or pool. I like it - I feel better!

In week four I'm continuing to work with my trainer, Janine, on improving my balance and reinforcing muscle memory. Things like sitting and getting up from a chair, seem like second nature, but when the movement was slowed down and isolated it became apparent that one of the muscles wasn't performing properly.

Adjusting my program to include additional strengthening exercises will help achieve the balance I require. 

One thing I've noticed about the YMCA is that the folks that work and volunteer are a great bunch of people. From the front desk to the instructors, cleaners, trainers and everyone in between – they are all cheerful and seem very engaged in providing the best experience for members.

It makes for a very welcoming atmosphere that quickly put me at ease!  



The program and gym environment are finally starting to feel more familiar and less alien.

For my private session we concentrated on important, but less obvious issues like posture, balance and form.  Our health challenge group training session is part of the week that I've really started to look forward to, and I enjoy sharing challenges and successes with my workout partners Andi and Gregg who help keep me on track. 

I downloaded the Life Fitness app and integrated with Samsung S Health along with my Garmin Vivofit. To obtain a more accurate picture of my health and wellness I'll need to work on improving my consistency in logging activities and meals. 

This week's challenge has been trying to find a balance between exerting enough effort to effect positive change, while trying to remain healthy and injury-free. Overdoing it once or twice aggravated some existing conditions, so I'm tweaking my activities to avoid further harm. 



This week my trainer and I worked on finding some routines that I would be comfortable completing on my own. She familiarized me with some new equipment and helped me feel less intimidated by the gym.

I tend to gravitate to the pool for my classes, as it's an environment that I feel much more comfortable in. I'm not big on group activities, but I do enjoy the camaraderie of the folks in the aqua classes. 

My biggest challenge continues to be actually getting to the YMCA. I end up at the gym five days this week, but it's a struggle filled with mental negotiations and imaginary roadblocks. 

My biggest success is getting on the assisted chin-up machine, as I've never been able to do a chin up in my life. Even though I'm almost maxed out on the "assist" weight, it still feels empowering to be able to complete a pull-up!  



I had my first personal training session, a group training session, and tried out a couple different fitness classes.

As expected there was quite a few aches and pains!

While that proved challenging, I found that the mental aspect of "going to the gym" even more confronting.

There were a few lightbulb moments in regards to motivation and inspiration and the realization that it all has to come from within.

I definitely have some psychological blocks about exercise that I'll have to overcome in order to make my new habit healthy choices.



I'm Sandra, a single 50-something parent of an adult daughter.  I've cobbled together a career in the fluctuating oil and gas industry, but it's looking like it's time for a career change.  My main hobbies are travel and photography, so, perhaps a travel-based career might be a better fit.

Attending a fitness program has been a goal of mine for some time now, however; the scheduling never seemed to coincide.  My health is relatively good, other than carrying some extra weight.  One of the main reasons that I want to be fit is that I want to be able to travel independently into old age without being anxious about poor health or injury.  On my recent trip to Nicaragua, I found myself turning down opportunities for exploring because I was worried about holding back other participants or injuring myself.

Introverted, and quite photophobic (prefer to be behind the camera, not in front), I believe that the public media aspect of this challenge will be as daunting as the wellness part.  2018 is a good time to step out of my comfort zone and create some positive, and healthy habits.