All posts tagged: YMCA

Diabetes Prevention Program

I took this picture the last day of class. I paused on my way out the door, letting the impact of the empty room and happy memories linger for a moment more…

I became a YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program Lifestyle Coach in 2016. Aside from my general agenda for healthy and fit living and my grandfather recently being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I was shocked by the staggering statistics of this disease plaguing America.

  • 29.1 million people suffer from diabetes (27% don’t know it)
  • Another 86 million people have prediabetes (90% don’t know it)
  • Without weight loss and moderate physical activity, 15-30% of those with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years
  • Risk of death for adults with diabetes is 50% higher than for adults without diabetes
  • In 2012, reported total medical costs and lost work and wages for people diagnosed with diabetes was $245 billion
  • Type 2 diabetes is a “lifestyle disease” – which is preventable and should be fought

The YMCA’s program helps adults reduce their risk for developing diabetes by taking steps that will improve their overall health and well-being. Participants qualify for the program by being 18 years of age or older, overweight (BMI of 25 or greater), and diagnosed with prediabetes via a blood test or gestational diabetes. The program is a one-year commitment – meeting as a group weekly for the first 16 sessions, meeting every other week for the next 3 sessions, and meeting monthly for the final 6 sessions. The YDPP emphasizes two primary goals: reducing body weight by 7% and increasing physical activity to 150 minutes per week.

Thanks to the company AFL and their wellness initiatives, I was able to start facilitating a class at their Duncan, SC, campus in December 2016. Some might have questioned beginning our program near the end of the calendar year, but – lemons to lemonade – I was convinced that my participants could learn a tremendous amount in 3 weeks and go into the holidays more prepared than ever.

Day One, we were all a little nervous, I think. But our small group of 4 bonded quickly and proved to be a candid and effective setting.

We powered through Y curriculum. We shared our triumphs and struggles and made action plans. We practiced fitness and nutrition challenges like a week without fried food, pizza or chocolate; cooking a new recipe, buying a piece of gear; and working out with a buddy.

We had “lapse” but not “relapse.” We had birthdays, weddings, travel, bad weather, office deadlines and so many other life events – that, under other circumstances, may have held us back. But we learned.

We actually looked forward to seeing each other. The “power of the group” was valued and motivational. They definitely had a coach who cared. And I had participants who would get REAL. That’s how we managed our year together.

I would be remiss to not say that as of December 2017, all 4 people did prevent diabetes!

So, to Angie, the HR lead who championed YDPP, and to John, Rich, Candice and Tammy, the hard-working, fun-loving folks I am grateful to know…

“Go forth and be successful!”


AarikaDiabetes Prevention Program
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After leaving my job at the YMCA, I found myself right back in the Group Exercise classroom regularly. But this time, I was not teaching; I was participating.

For one, my Wellness Department successor Wendy Jo was leading a new Small Group Training, and I wanted to support her and this effort to bring specialty, pay-for programming to Y members. For two, the class type was High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and I had never focused on that very intentionally. For three, the commitment was six weeks, and I could really use that as a condensed period for reboot and body change. Wahoo!!!

HIIT Explained

High Intensity Interval Training describes any workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less-intense activity or even complete rest. For example, a good starter workout is running as fast as you can for one minute and then walking for two minutes. This Shape Magazine article lists 8 benefits of HIIT…

  1. Efficient
  2. Burn fat
  3. Maintain muscle
  4. Healthier heart
  5. No equipment necessary
  6. Do anywhere
  7. Increase metabolism
  8. Seriously challenging

HIIT Experience

I was right that I was not at my preferred level of fitness. I found that out on Day One of class. Granted, HIIT is not supposed to be easy. But, I really thought I would fair better. So, this revelation made me work even harder over the six weeks. I only missed one session – because of a travel conflict. I even worked out on my birthday – really proud of that choice. Wendy Jo and Jana were the instructors. And, man, did they make us all sweat. I did see improvements in endurance and body fat. Don’t worry about my red face in the photo above. I was just pushing it to the max!

I loved this new experience. It is me upholding an objective for the year – “engaging in new physical challenges to keep my own activity fresh and interesting.” To make twice a week workouts for six weeks took prioritization, and was not without me rescheduling a date night or two. Setting goals is incredibly important for me. I really enjoy executing a plan.


I am a member of the YMCA of Greater Spartanburg. I mostly frequent their Thomas E. Hannah branch located in downtown Spartanburg. This facility is pretty amazing. It is only about 6 years old, which means state-of-the-art design and clean. They offer plentiful amenities for exercise – courts, pools, classrooms, Schwinn cycles, machines, free weights, functional tools and adjacency to the city’s Rail Trail. The Y is also well known for Group Exercise, offering 65 classes per week, last time I counted. Some instructors have been staples in the community for decades. And that doesn’t mean they are stale; they are the most energetic, caring people you’ll ever meet. Extra nice – Standard GX is included with your monthly membership fee.

YMCA Small Group HIIT = Great variety. Heart pumping. Falling in the floor but smiling. High fives!


AarikaHIIT Me
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Coughing in the New Year

I’m fairly miserable at the moment. I have combination sinus and respiratory infections. I have all the symptoms of the flu, except the added facial pressure and wheezing. It is not the flu though, the nurse practitioner said, because my fever hasn’t been high enough. Go figure.

I’ve been taking every care to recover – visiting the doctor, resting, taking doses of pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, cough suppressant, breathing treatment, vitamins and more. I’ve had high-nutrient items – homemade bone broth, fruit and vegetable smoothies, lean protein, herbal tea with ginger, tons of water and more.

My first priority is to get well and not be a lump. My second priority is to return to work. They desperately need me. I’m at the turn of a revolution in the Wellness Department, and I am M.I.A. for the moment, and I feel terribly guilty.

I start to think about progress and plans for a New Year. Even if it is an arbitrary new beginning, I do like to make a resolution. As I sit sickly reflecting on my last 12 months, what I hope to focus on in 2017 comes easily.

I have pondered often the irony of me “being the most unwell I’ve been in a very long time since taking the job as a Wellness Director.” I have been in the position for nearly five months. The role is demanding. Yet I cop to a good deal of fault for the way in which I have done the job – to my own personal sacrifice.

Technically, this was the first full-time year of my health and fitness career. The larger irony is that I believe I have discovered that all H+F professionals are forced to self-sacrifice. Namely, I find pros running themselves ragged to serve others and make enough money.

They most likely…

  • Work random hours – supremely early mornings and late nights
  • Go through physical toll – repeated instruction and demonstration
  • Juggle employment at multiple places – for financial stability

For me, this has led to…

  • Unpredictability of schedule – little rest and non-routine sleep
  • Chronic cervical spine issue – with neural tension and back, shoulder and arm residuals
  • Lack of time and energy for my own exercise

Which leads to…

  • Discomfort
  • Sour mood
  • Frustration

But all of that is overshadowed for them and for me by one resounding truth… Loving what you do, or more so, why you are doing it

Herein lies my resolution. Not changing the what or the why. Changing the how. For 2017, I will change how I operate. I will keep some health and fitness for me.

I must. Because without being healthy and happy, I cannot expect to spread “healthy and happy.”

This means…

  1. Identifying boundaries and upholding them
  2. Engaging in new physical challenges to keep my own activity fresh and interesting.
  3. Meditating, being quiet and seeking serenity.
AarikaCoughing in the New Year
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Starting Today

Hello world! I started this website today, my very own health and fitness site to promote my new personal training business. I filled it with some backdated content from my everyday blog I plan to maintain both sites, only this one will be geared toward “health-ness” matters – advice, literature, research, tips, recipes and more to fuel your mind, body and soul.

It’s been a long, calculated journey for me to get here. (I used to be a marketer.) I’m psyched about this newness – new career, new city, new opportunities. I’m ready to kick butt and build something awesome.

Toe is in the water. I’m working at the YMCA of Spartanburg, Thomas E. Hannah family branch in downtown, as well as at Key 2 Fitness, an independent studio on East Main Street. Two jobs. Bam.

Business cards and stationary are in the mail. I will soon start networking for real. How could January New Year’s resolution timing be bad for such a venture?  🙂

AarikaStarting Today
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Went for a Swim

I went for a swim today, and I felt like my old self. I haven’t swum laps in a chlorine pool in many years. I used to be a lifeguard, five summers worth. I used to swim 500 yards almost daily. And I was fast.

I’ve lost a lot. I’m not even sure how long the YMCA pool lap lane is. I know I did 22 laps. My main goal was to complete 20 minutes of cardio though. My muscles twinged and my breath ran short.

I walked out into the fresh air and sunshine and smiled. I laughed and nearly cried. I hadn’t done that in so long. Memories of those afternoons at the pool came rushing back, of being young and carefree. I couldn’t recall the last time I felt like that. I’m only 28.

It was exhilarating and made me long for laissez-faire of the past.  Where normally, I’m covered with worry. It’s my nature to perfect.

Today I felt alive, an excellent reminder of what value taking care of oneself can have, that we are all tied down by a sense of obligation and lack of perspective. The better I can remember this, the better I can be, the more swimmingly life will go.

AarikaWent for a Swim
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