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10 Classes in 10 Days

It’s the start of a new week and I’m feeling great about the next 10 days. What’s so special about them you ask? Well I’m going to take advantage of the range of fabulous fitness classes offered by the YMCA, and challenge myself to experience 10 of them over the next 10 days!


To start things off, I choose a group class that will get me energized for the week: Group Power. This 60 minute barbell program focused on strengthening all of my major muscles, but with an awesome instructor and great music! Each body part is trained through one track and the shoulder’s track was really tough but I feel great for finishing!


I woke up feeling the class from yesterday throughout my body, but excited for a new challenge! Since my arms got the harder work-out yesterday, I decided to join the Group Ride class today, which is a 60 minute cycling program. The theme was ‘make legs’ and my legs are feeling great after climbing mountains, rolling over hills and chasing the rest of the pack!


After two days of intensity, I’m opting to participate in the Group Active class where the instructor mixes up some step and resistance training. With about 12 people in the class, everyone has lots of room to really move. This class was great for today since it was a little lighter intensity - something I was hoping for after going all out the last two days!


After only three days of different work-outs, I’m feeling stronger and more confident. All of the instructors are friendly and welcoming, and I’ve met some of our Y members who are just starting their new work-out routines. Today I decided to go back to the Group Ride class, and it was just as I remembered! I love the intervals and feel incredible after working so hard for an hour.


Well I’ve reached my half-way point of 10 classes in 10 days, so I decided to step it up and try boot camp. Let me tell you, it IS as hard as it sounds, with pushups and burpees, but I feel awesome post- work-out!


Zumba was a great choice for my sixth day of YMCA classes. Not familiar with Zumba? Well, it’s a fusion of high energy and motivating music with unique, Latin inspired moves and combos. It’s fun and it’s easy to do - what a way to start the weekend!


After lots of intensity, I choose something a little different for Sunday afternoon. Yoga! My body is thanking me, it really needed this stretch. During the class, we did a series of sun salutations and spent time working on our breathing. I feel stronger and more relaxed that I have in a really long time!


Well it’s day eight and I’m feeling fabulous. Not only have I had some terrific work-outs over the last week, but I’ve adopted a new routine and I’ve met great people along the way. Today I decided to go back to Group Power, and I’m glad I did! Although I knew what to expect, it didn’t make it any easier. I love the ab work at the end as it really works my core.


Today I wanted to try something different, so I went for Kettle Bell. Terrific for the glutes, it’s very challenging, and I loved it! Kettle Bell is often noted as one of the most effective and efficient pieces of strength training equipment, and this class helps members increase strength, power, speed, coordination and stability. I love the small group sizes and the attention the instructors give to all members in order to increase motivation and make any form corrections.


It’s hard to believe that 10 days have gone by, and I’ve participated in 10 classes. Today I finished the challenge with the group active class. The theme was ‘make arms’ so I was happy to give my legs a rest after yesterday!

I love the variety of classes at the YMCA and I always participated in them, but I surprised even myself with how great I felt after the challenge. It highlighted how important it is to continually challenge yourself and try new things!

I’m not stopping my challenge here – come join me for Group Power tomorrow!

~Alicia Clow-Ennis, Manager of Adult Health and Wellness (Centre Branch)


The Y Variety Show

Think you know everything there is to know about your local YMCA?

Well we wanted to surprise you with a few extras, things you might not know about. Things like LINC, Project C.A.M.P. and P.L.A.Y.

Already learning something knew? We thought so.

At the YMCA, we never turn anyway away, and this is also true for newcomers to Canada. LINC is our Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada, and it teaches over 600 students annually. English as a Second Language classes are taught to permanent adult residents as they begin their new life in Canada.

And that’s not all.

Free childcare is provided at three of our locations, allowing students to immerse themselves in the classes. From reading and writing to Canadian history and employment, students learn all they need to know to settle in Canada.  

After 18 years, we are extremely proud to continue to offer this service to newcomers.

So were you surprised to learn about LINC? What about Project C.A.M.P., do you know much about that? It’s pretty cool, so let us tell you about it.

Project C.A.M.P. is a not-for-profit program supported by the YMCA of Western Ontario, which provides hundreds of local children with camp experiences that otherwise would not be available to them due to financial or other barriers.

So what does that mean?

More children get to go to camp! They get to experience the wonders of outdoor activities, lasting friendships, and positive mentors.

Project C.A.M.P. accepts referrals from schools and community agencies on behalf of children who could benefit from a day or overnight camping experience. In 2010, Project C.A.M.P. received and placed 419 London and Middlesex children aged 6 – 16 years old in a camping opportunity. Project C.A.M.P. is fully funded through community financial donations and through in-kind personal support.

Well at this point, we think you’ve at least learned something new! If not, here is one final program we’d like to share with you.

P.L.A.Y. is our Peer Leaders for Active Youth program, and it was developed to have student from grades 6 – 8 lead games and activities for students from the primary grades for the five local elementary schools in Strathroy.  The program was part of an initiative funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health called Activate Strathroy Youth

The Strathroy-Caradoc Family YMCA partnered with the Middlesex-London Health Unit and The Child and Youth Project Coordinator from the YMCA trained and supported over 140 Peer Leaders and School Representatives.

Lots of great partnerships make great things happen!

The focus of the P.L.A.Y. program was to provide structured play for the primary students to help them develop their socializing skills, reduce behavioural incidents on the playground and teach them new games to play during unstructured recess times.  The program also provided a leadership component for the senior grade students that performed the Peer Leader roles. 

The program was an overall success, and we hope to see it continue in the schools this fall now that the grant has been completed.

Well, it’s been a blast talking to you about the variety of things we do at the YMCA. We hope you learned something new, and that you feel more connected to the programs that take place at your local branch!

~Laura Hamilton, Director, Camping & Youth Engagement, ~Paul Lattimore, Child and Youth Project Coordinator, and ~Jo-elle Rinker, Director of Educational Services


Strong Kids make Strong Communities

If you have ever been to a Y, you know that we have a richly diverse member base. Some of our wonderful members and community users have accelerated needs with physical or cognitive challenges. Some are new families to Canada who are looking for a place where they can interact with others while getting used to the Canadian way of life. Many have varied economic means and diverse backgrounds and life experiences. These are the people who complete the Y family.

Our ability to serve the needs of such a diverse group, while focusing on the needs of children and families, is what makes the Y a special place that is welcoming and accessible to all. We pride ourselves on this culture.

If you are a Y member, visitor or supporter, you may also know about our Strong Kids Campaign. You may know that your donations make it possible for us to say, without exception that no one is turned away at the YMCA. You may know that Strong Kids funds a third of our campers, kids in swimming lessons, and families using out programs and services.

On a personal level, consider this impact:

Your front desk staff are always friendly and helpful.  The building is always clean and my son really enjoys the basketball and the weight room.

As a family we have fallen on some hard times this year and we were unable to pay the full membership dues each month for my 15 year old son who loves basketball and the weight room.  He is a great kid and during this stressful time for us at home you are the bright spot of his day.

The Y has dealt with us with dignity and respect and has been so kind.  The Y came through on a rate we could afford each month –thank you for making this a positive experience.

This is just one mom, of one family, in one community, and if you’re a Y donor, YOU made the difference for them.  You are people like Y member Sandy Mikalachki who asks us all to “pay it forward”:

 It is my everyday interaction with the diversity of the Y that encourages me to support the Strong Kids program. I am there five days a week and find it refreshing to be surrounded by such a diverse socio-economic group.

Each year, the Y raises funds to support children and families who want to be part of the Y experience. For some, this may be the first time a child has had a camp experience, or an opportunity for a family to spend quality time in a setting that provides swimming lessons, cancer support groups, or recreational sports.

The next time you see kids in the pool, remember that a full third of them were supported by our Strong Kids subsidy program which in turn is supported by your donations.

For more on Strong Kids or how you can help, click here.

~Heidi Peever Bain, V.P. Development


The ABCs of Summer Camp

With school out, do you think your kids are going to forget their ABCs? No way! A is for Achievement Motivation, B is for Boundaries, and C is for Creative Activities. Not the same ABCs you were thinking about? Read on!

Kids love camp. Y Camps love kids. With school wrapping up this week and the warm weather finally upon us, it’s time to make plans for the summer! The YMCA has a rich tradition of camping and summer programming for children and youth.  But you knew that already, didn’t you?

One thing you probably didn’t know: YMCA camps are based on What Kids Need: The Building Blocks for Children and Youth. The Search Institute has identified 40 Development Assets that children and youth need in order to help them grow into caring, responsible, successful adults. At the YMCA, we incorporate these Assets into everything we do - from getting on the bus in the morning, to playing capture the flags in the afternoon, to telling stories around the campfire as the day concludes.

In short, we’ve put a lot of thought, time and care into our camps. We’ve spent the past ten months updating our camp curriculum to ensure the Y is offering the highest quality program for your child. Developing friendships, learning new skills, and enjoying fun-filled days in a caring, supervised environment is what YMCA Camps are all about. 

Still think your kids will forget their ABCs? Not a chance! At camp, A stands for adventure, B stands for basketball, and C stands for crafts.

Whether a child is learning how to stern a canoe, dribble a basketball, build a campfire, or make a craft, our core values of respect, responsibility, caring and honesty will be incorporated into their experiences. While laughing, playing, singing and exploring, YMCA campers will be growing in sprit, mind and body.  With enthusiastic role models leading the way, children in our care will develop important life skills they will use for years to come, both at school and at home.

Consider these benefits for your children:

  •    Increased Health and Well-being

  •    Improved Self-Esteem

  •    Independence

  •    Leadership Skills

  •    Adventure, Exploration and Play

  •    Friendship Skills and Improved Social Competencies

  •    Environmental Awareness

  •    Values and Decision Making

Join us this summer at the YMCA as we build meaningful relationships with both campers and families, continuing the tradition of growing, learning and belonging.  Our camping heritage makes YMCA Day Camps and Camp Queen Elizabeth trustworthy and exciting choices.  We believe strongly that every child should have the experience of summer camp.  Start your tradition now!

See you this summer!

~Laura Hamilton, Director, Camping & Youth Engagement


What's in a Y?

The short answer to that question is: A LOT.

While I’m not going to try to tell the entire Y story here, I’m pleased as part of our inaugural blog post to give you a small sense of what the YMCA of Western Ontario (YMCAWO) is today, and how our work impacts your community.

Every year, our 27,000+ members and more than 70,000 total Western Ontario residents take advantage of Y programs. This includes everything from swimming lessons to yoga, day camp to soccer and across the spectrum of literacy learning to gambling awareness programs.

These people know what is and what has always been at the heart of the Y: children, family and community

But do they know, and do you know, that 33% of Y members across our region – including London’s 3 locations and St. Thomas, Strathroy, Woodstock branches – are financially assisted?  That’s right, more than a third.  That means that your membership and every Y membership help provide access for those that would otherwise be unable afford the cost of participation in what is and should be a right for all – health, recreation, education and overall wellness in spirit, mind and body.

As YMCAWO CEO, I’ve always been enormously proud of the programs we offer, the diversity our members represent, the communities we serve, and most importantly, the impact we can make on an individual level, over and over in different ways, for literally tens of thousands of people.

In celebration of that, and of our first ever blog post, I am happy to share this heartening Y story (just one of SO MANY):

At the age of 6…my mom signed me up for a (Y) membership. On a single income there were very few opportunities my mom could afford. I remember the thrill of my very own membership card, how grown up it felt to hand in my card at the desk in exchange for a locker key.  I continued to be a member of the Y into my teens and volunteered from age 12 - 16. At the age of 16, I was hired at the Y as a lifeguard and instructor and I really felt the Y was my second home.  As a teenager, after the loss of my mother, I turned to the Y and its members, and found support, friendship and a place where I enjoyed numerous memorable experiences.”
~Timarra, Y Staff Member

Thanks for reading. There will be a diversity of Y voices posting here every two weeks and we welcome your ongoing participation and feedback in the spirit of our strong YMCA community!

What’s your Y story?

~Shaun Elliott, CEO

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