Joints in Motion: A Chair Class to Increase Strength and Flexibility

Joints in Motion meets at 1 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the Group Ex Room at West. It is designed to make daily tasks easier through strength and flexibility exercises that are accomplished while seated in a chair. Several of the 17 in attendance on May 17th shared how the class has improved their functional fitness. One woman coming since this winter, said her balance and hand weight-lifting ability improved; another mentioned how the class helped her stay mobile and healthy. One member said she participated in water fitness classes for more than a decade ago. She started Joints in Motion, at the suggestion of her instructor, Sue, after double knee replacement several years ago. Now, her wellness routine includes both Joints in Motion 3 days a week, with Sue as her instructor, and water fitness 5 days a week. IMG_0319
The members expressed warm appreciation for Sue. Her instructional approach ensured the class ran smoothly from start to finish. The members assisted in setting up chairs and getting their equipment (2 small hand-weights and an exercise stretch band) before class. Participants gave kind consideration for the needs of fellow class members. Those limited by sight or hearing sat nearer to the instuctor; those with ambulatory limits positioned themselves nearer to the exit. Sue began teaching with a clear, soothing voice and step by step instructions. She demonstrated each movement with easy to follow visual cues. The class progressed through a series of sets of exercises that started with a gentle warm up. Each joint was taken through the participants’ full range of motion. Individuals remained seated for some sets; they stood by their chair for others, using a hand on the chair back as needed for stability. Sue alternate between joints as she taught. She offered brief rests to recover as she completed a series or switched to a different mode. She also employed weights and bands to enhance the resistance. She encouraged each person to engage in the movements based on their level of ability. For example, on occasion Sue gave the option to remain in one’s chair, if stability would be compromised. Sue kept a nice rhythm and intensity through the class…just enough to work the entire body without taxing any area.
After class, others offered comments. One woman said she suffered from a pain in her neck for years. In the 2 years since she started attending, her pain and numbness have reduced to minimal levels. Another participant cited an interesting benefit: brain challenges. She said Sue occasionally throws in some combinations that challenge her mind-body connections. A newer member appreciated the friendships formed and looked forward to the informal gatherings at Wegman’s following class. She said these impromptu events meet social needs of this population, many of whom are widowed and/or living alone.

The class is best summed up in 8 words of a member, “I feel so good when I go home!”


YMCA of Broome County member and Vietnam Veteran, Steve, recently took some time to share his thoughts on Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, when the graves of soldiers lost in war were “decorated” with flags and flowers.

Memorial Day has meant different things to me over the years. When I was a youngster it was called Decoration Day. I wove red, white and blue crepe paper through the spokes of my bike. Then, I rode it in our small town’s Decoration Day Parade to remember all those who gave their lives in defense of our great country. Later we gathered for a BBQ. When I was in high school, I played taps on my trumpet after the local American Legion rifle squad fired a 21 gun salute to honor the our lost heroes. The real human toll hit me while I served in Vietnam. On occasion, I was flown into some tight spots to play taps after a battle resulted in the death of one of our soldiers. My trumpet was the lone tribute; volleys of a rifle squad might have reengaged the enemy.
Steve @ Vietnam Statue
I left for Vietnam right around my birthday in 1967. I was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division Headquarters Support Command, just north of Saigon. Our unit’s responsibilities included: recon, patrol and pacification. I traveled on land, sea and air in the Mekong Delta at all times of day and night. Our South Korean allies had a post adjacent to ours; we met once in awhile to get acquainted. I finished my tour of duty around my birthday in 1968. Unlike several of my classmates, I returned home. They paid the ultimate price.The loss of their lives is understood most by us who fought beside them. Their great sacrifice must never be forgotten, and especially recalled on Memorial Day!
Many years passed since my time in the service. I lived life long enough to earn my retirement and spare time. Then, 4 years ago, my brother and YMCA of Broome member, got me interested in the “Y”.

I have been a Y member ever since. I usually visit 6 days a week and generally use the treadmill and upper body equipment in the Wellness Center. The workouts help me be more physically fit and lose a little weight, which is good. I also enjoy having coffee in the lobby with other YMCA members after our workouts. It is a great way to cool down and meet people. We engage in lively conversations….our favorite discussions center on solving the world’s problems.

Emily: YMCA Member, Community Volunteer and Special Olympian Athlete

Emily celebrates her 22nd birthday on May 12th and works out at the West Family YMCA 4 days a week. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, she enjoys joining the Rusty Hinges water fitness class. She devotes the rest of her time to the Wellness Center. She allots about 20-40 minutes to counting her steps on the treadmill. Then she moves over for circuit training on the weight machines. Emily finishes the entire hour routine strong. After the workout, Emily and Jen, her direct support professional, pull up some chairs at their favorite table in the lobby to chill out and play a few hands of cards. Emily’s eyes twinkle when she rates her time on the treadmill with a “thumbs down” and then flashes a “thumbs up” for the card games. She holds a near perfect record of wins against Jen. This dynamic duo enjoy every minute they spend at the YMCA. IMG_0207

Since coming to the YMCA about 6 months ago, Emily commited to another wellness choice, cutting back on soda and pizza, her favorite food. She takes a cooking class in Owego to experience different food options and develop her culinary skills.The YMCA is just a part of the busy monthly schedule Emily tracks in her neatly organized folder. She works Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Boy’s and Girl’s Club in Binghamton. Her list of duties include organization of equipment and assisting the children with storing their coats and belongings. She trains on a Vestal swim team Wednesday afternoons. She participates in Special Olympics as a volunteer and an athlete. She recently helped Jen, who serves as a coach for Vestal and a Volunteer Coordinator, sort their green team shirts for the Broome/Tioga Spring Special Olympics. The Saturday, May 6th Competition, held at Chenango Valley High School, hosted over 500 athletes. Emily’s YMCA training helped her to compete in the Softball Throw, 50 Meter Run and a 4 Person Relay that day. She placed 4th in the Softball Throw and 3rd and 4th in 2 relays. Emily also proudly sings the National Anthem for Special Olympic Events and perfoms for the community in Talking Hands, a sign-language group. They recently made the day for residents of a local nursing home with their skills. Emily one other appointment included in her monthly schedule is a meeting with her job coach, a teacher in a local school. Plus, the coach enlists Emily’s enthusiatic aid in end of the school events for her students.

The YMCA of Broome considers it a privilege to serve as wellness partner with this delightful young woman, who gives so much back to our community. IMG_0208

Christie’s Story: Taking Care of Business Includes Taking Care of Myself

Christie and her good friend and neighboring retailer, Casey, relished a 10 minute cool down and chat after their YMCA water fitness class. The two juggled multiple work, home and family responsibilities. Casey summed up the unique scheduling crunch they faced as women owning/operating small businesses, “We take care of everything and everyone…but ourselves.” Then Christie scrambled out of the pool for a job-related appointment.

Nine months earlier, Casey invited Christie to “to find time for herself” and give the YMCA of Broome a try on the first visit free promotion. In addition to her regular roles, Christie and a team of other women shared the heartbreaking care of a friend in the final stages of cancer. Watching how the stress took a toll on her friend, Casey hoped Christie could experience the wellness benefits she gained in deep water fitness workouts since joining the YMCA the previous year after a tough time in her life.

Christie enjoyed the class from the first day. “What a relief to exercise in a judgement-free environment!” Contrary to some of Christie’s prior experiences, she soon noted every size, shape and ability were welcomed into YMCA workouts. She connected quickly with the members and instructor. She enjoyed their support and camaraderie, as well as the instructor’s encouragement. She found the class routine fun, challenging, but not intimidating.

Christie reports her wellness improvements include more energy for her work schedule and more enthusiasm for living! She also set a goal to work out at the YMCA at least once a week.

Carlena: Finds Courage for Healthy Change at the YMCA of Broome County

My name is Carlena. After struggling with different health issues, including high blood pressure and Type 2 Diabetes, I decided to make some changes in my life. So, I joined the YMCA of Broome County 9 months ago. I now attend at least 6 days a week and love it! My water fitness classes and work outs with weights in the West Family Y Wellness Center really paid off. I am very proud to say I lost 30lbs. Plus, my doctor took me off both my blood pressure and diabetes medications. I am very excited about my progress, what difference in my “now” and “then” picture! carlena-blog

I never thought I would be able to stick with it, but thanks to the Y community, my new second family, I did it! We look forward to seeing each other at the Y. Every day I receive the push I need to keep going, as well as affirmation from Y staff and members telling me how proud they were of me. I plan to keep working hard on my wellness goals. I recommend the YMCA of Broome County to everyone; we are “better together!”

Pilates: Saturday Mornings at the West Family YMCA

“Be in control of your life and not at its mercy.”
Joseph Pilates

Co-teachers Mary and Jennifer started the 8 a.m. Aqua Pilates class by demonstrating warm-up breathing technique for the 9 participants standing in the shallow end of the pool. In between focusing on their slow breaths, the class twittered and jested with one-liners. One member kidded about her reason for attending, “I don’t have anything better to do on Saturday morning.” Before and after class, other participants also shared many benefits from the discipline Joseph Pilate designed to strengthen and tone muscles, as well as assist in achieving better balance. Most cited both core and balance improvements, then mentioned help they had gotten for their specific problem areas by taking the class. One member found improvements in her long-time neck and shoulder issues; another spoke of it helping her scoliosis. A third said the fun, relaxing, slower paced class was her reward for her high intensity aerobic routines the rest of the week.
Mary described the class as “a very nice and fun group that makes getting up on Saturday mornings a lot easier.” She said Pilates are “made for everybody and every body.” Then emphasized, “They are NOT aerobic nor are they cardiovascular.” She added, “I have been teaching Pilates for 12 years on land. I use a variety of tools each class to make each session different even though the movements are the same. I became an Aqua Pilates instructor 10 years ago as way to reach a different group of people: those with limited mobility, those recovering from injuries or surgery, and those who just want gentler exercises to get or stay fit. Pilates encourage people to work at a pace that is good for them. Both land and water Pilates use one’s own body for resistance and stability; the extra resistance in water slows the movements down for better form and completion.”
The week this class met, Mary and Jen took the group through a series of sets of arm and leg work (kicks, lifts, bicycles, twist, tucks and stretches) some using the pool bottom; some using the wall for stability. Mary added two hand-held mini-beach balls to increase the resistance…and add variety. One lady said it didn’t feel like she was doing anything when she went through the routine her first time, but emphasized how much she felt everything the next day!



One comment best summed up the class sentiment, “I can’t think of a better start for a Saturday morning.”
(Aqua Plilates classes are offered 8:00 am Sat and Tues evenings 5p.m. at the West Family YMCA facility)


Sukanya, a caring Ob/Gyn, received a month pass for the YMCA of Broome County at a diabetic exercise class she attended. She arrived at the West Family Y after her office hours for her first class, a whole body exercise class. Sukanya hoped to manage her diabetes and the constant arthritic aches she endured for years. Jen, the instructor, introduced Sukanya to the exercise ball. This group ex class increased her core strength, flexibility, added a few cardio benefits…and convinced her to join the YMCA. She soon explored other options at the facility. She knew aqua workouts could help her arthritis, but her fear of the water proved an obstacle. Not only did she suffer from a suffocating terror of getting her head wet, but Sukanya’s long hair, thick hair took hours to dry. She pushed through her anxiety by taking 6-8 private swim lessons. Her new comfort level allowed her to try shallow water fitness classes and work her way up from swimming 1 lap to 3 laps.



Arthritis continued to take a toll on Sukanya. She faced sciatic nerve flares with shooting spasms that left her unable to walk. So, she went for a back surgery on November 1st, 2015. After the procedure, she checked in with Pam, a YMCA personal trainer. Pam assisted her in gradually returning to her exercise routine. Sukanya said she was “happy to have a little less pain,” and that she often thought of “many others in greater pain than hers. In July of 2016, Sukanya faced another operation, a shoulder replacement. Doctors hoped to alleviate some of the arthritic pain and damage to her hands and shoulder. Before her scheduled date, the kind-hearted Sukanya brought flowers for the YMCA instructors who helped her.

By the time Sukanya, returned from that surgery, Athletic Trainer, Aubrey Hazel, had come on staff through a Lourdes/YMCA community partnership. Aubrey set up aqua-therapy exercise routines in the pool to assist Sukanya in her recovery. Sukanya worked her way back to 5 days a week in the pool. She joined a shallow water interval classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. She added her own therapy workouts on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She is pleased with her improved ROM (Range of Motion.)

Sukanya appreciates the “happy environment” of the YMCA. She has “met so many others and sees smiles everywhere.” And added, “Members motivate one another and the staff is really nice.”

The YMCA of Broome celebrates every step of Sukanya’s recovery and is grateful for her inspiration and kindness.

Aria’s YMCA Parent/Infant Swim Success Story

YMCA Parent/Infant swim lessons were a whole new experience for two and a half year old, Aria. Her mom, Kristen, said Aria had never been in class setting or had anyone else telling her what to do. Initially, the toddler hesitated to get in the pool during her first lesson last October. It took two or three weeks of gentle but persistent efforts from her instructor, Jen, for Aria to feel comfortable in the water.



Aria recently started her third swim session and celebrated her third birthday. Jen earned a little more of Aria’s trust each lesson over the past few months. Three weeks ago, the little girl, her mom described as “very independent,” made them both proud by kicking her legs with some serious strength. Not long after, Aria told her mom, “Don’t touch! I do that,” and insisted that her mom let go of her. Then Aria swam off on her own, with a blue cubes flotation belt. The following week, Aria insisted that Kristen watch her from the deck instead getting in the pool.


As Aria confident high-fived Jen before jumping in the pool last Thursday morning during the lesson, Kristen listed the benefits of this YMCA program. She included water safety and socialization, for both parent and child. She expressed gratitude for Jen, who made Aria’s first “outside” learning experience so positive. As an instructor, she conveyed a care that allowed Aria to discover her strengths by celebrating the little successes that made way for bigger ones. At the end of that class, Jen promoted Aria to the next level, Pre-school.


The Great Lakes Challenge: A Healthy Prep for Summer

The YMCA of Broome values each opportunity to partner with members in their wellness journey. Periodically, the YMCA of Broome offers special challenges to our Y community to promote comradery, fun and success in setting and achieving fitness goals. On March 6th, the YMCA of Broome County launched The Great Lakes Challenge “as a great way for helping members get healthy and ready for summer,” says Assistant Aquatics Director, Katie Schrader.

The aim of this virtual challenge is “swimming” the width of all five Great Lakes (a total of 571 miles) one at a time, in five mile increments, often without even getting wet. Members accepting the Great Lake Challenge “earn” five miles for each 30 minute workout. The campaign, which runs from March 6th -July 6th, includes workouts in basketball, swimming laps, cardio or weight machines, group ex and water fitness classes, swim lessons and participation in youth sport’s practices and/or games.

*Your goal is to “swim” across the width of each lake. (Grand Total of All=571miles)
*See a Y Team Member in your favorite workout area to start the Great Lake Challenge
*Get your lake charts from the bulletin board next to the Welcome Desk at West or at Fitness Center in the Binghamton Facility
*Pick a lake to start, shortest, longest or follow the HOMES acronym (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior)
*Each lake is a different distance, so it will vary how long it takes to complete each chart.
*For each 30 minute workout completed, color in one section of the map.
*Do one or more lakes to meet your goal(s)
*Put your name on each of your maps and hang it wherever you like (pool, fitness center, group ex, gym)
*When you complete a lake, let a Y team member know, and then it is your choice to move on to another lake.


Friday, March 24th marked The International Day for Achievers, and served as a reminder that each day offers the opportunity to set goals to reach specific aims. Wellness and fitness rank high on the lists of YMCA members. Some motivated members have completed as many as 3 lakes. Lake charts are popping up all over. There is still plenty of time to get join in the Great Lakes Challenge to achieve your fitness goals!

A Post from The We Care A Lot Foundation, an organization serving people with developmental disabilities, said of the March 24th International Day of Achievers:
“Achievers are people who make goals and do what it takes to reach their goals successfully…everyone has the ability to be an achiever.
How can someone become an achiever? …Grow within yourself the same qualities as those who achieve a lot by reaching their goals. Some of these qualities are the determination to never give up, consistency, and staying focused on your goal.”

Exciting Changes Ahead: YMCA Swim Lessons

Group swim lessons began in 1909 when the YMCA embarked on novel mission “to teach every man and boy in North America” to swim. According to the YMCA History website, this mission grew to include families and people with disabilities. The site mentioned three benefits: helping youth: feel safe around water, develop problem-solving abilities and nurturing self-esteem.
The YMCA continued to add changes over the years to improve the swim program. YMCA of Broome County Aquatics Director, Patty Scotto, is excited to announce the most recent updates to the National YMCA Swim Lesson Program. The new model introduces a simpler, more consistent nationwide approach. Instruction will transition from concentrating on endurance to Basic Water Safety. Each lesson will contain only 2 objectives/skills that build a solid foundation, instead of multiple goals. And parents will also have access to more resources that reinforce the progress in these objectives/

Patty recently returned from 2 days of intense training in the updates and became a certified instructor. Now she is concentrating on training YMCA of Broome County Staff and life guards for implementation this summer. She mused, “Most of our life guards on staff learned to swim under the current program which was last updated about 20 years ago.” She added that many still have their report cards. Patty went on to say the initial meetings and on-line training phase have begun. As soon as 10 complete the digital course, she will begin the next step, 14 hours of pool and classroom work. Each CPR and First Aid certified swim instructor, 16 years or older, who completes this phase and passes the test, will earn certification in time for busiest season of lessons, the end of June through mid-August.

Two changes are already being gradually implemented to reinforce the shift in programming. Swimmers will be weaned off flotation devices, such as “cubes”, that create a dependence, and at times a false sense of security. These devices also promote body positioning contrary to the proper alignment necessary in swimming mechanics. The second is the need for each young swimmer in the preschool and youth programs to ask permission to get in the water each time they enter. This extra measure reinforces the most basic rule in drowning prevention.

Patty flipped through the large binder she received at her training. One section explained the 3 categories in the new approach, Swim Starters (Parent Child Program of water discovery), Swim Basics (personal water safety with swim-float-swim) and Swim Strokes. Another held handy waterproof lesson plans for each week, complete with games and activities to reinforce the skills being taught. One tab opened to Welcome Letters to parent that introduced the instructor by name and explained the objectives for that level; another contained Certificates of Achievement that replace report cards. And another whole section was devoted to resources for parents.

Patty added one last important reminder brought about by a huge shift in the culture over the past 20 years that affects parenting; social media. Social media devices have led to a crisis of distracted parenting. Parents, put your smart phones and other devices away when supervising recreational water activities. Pool and outdoor swim times require a parents to be fully present during children’s recreational water activities to avoid tragic consequences. blog-swim1

The YMCA mission to teach every North American to swim, just got more exciting and more focused on skills and safety with the potential of saving many more lives!

The YMCA of Broome County is offering a special promotion for families from March 27th-April 1st. The joiner fee will be waived for all new Family Memberships…and any youth summer programs/activities paid in full during that period will receive a 10% discount. This includes: preschool and youth swim lessons, youth sports and summer camps.
YMCA members who refer someone who joins as an Individual Adult Member or takes out a Family membership during this time, will receive a YMCA logo duffel bag!