Whitaker training

YMCA certified personal trainer Lauren Wilson instructs Pat Whitaker on free weights.

LINVILLE — Less than two years ago, Pat Whitaker, 71, and her husband William were struggling to even take their dogs for a walk. Burdened with aches and pains, brain fog and low energy, Pat said that planning one thing a day, like grocery shopping, was about as much as she and her husband could muster.

“We were exhausted after grocery shopping,” Pat said. “We were turning into old curmudgeons.”

Deciding one day that enough was enough, this retired nurse called the Williams YMCA of Avery County for help. She opted for personal training with Lauren Wilson, certified personal trainer and Assistant Director of Healthy Living at the Y, who Pat affectionately calls “the Velvet Hammer.”

“Lauren patiently put up with my whining and complaining,” Pat said. “I’m probably not easy to teach being a retired nurse. I felt I needed one-on-one, and I wanted measurable results. The relief I have far exceeds my expectations.”

Not long after her efforts to improve her health with exercise and a better diet, Pat said her back pain lessened and her energy increased significantly. Today, she’s exuberant, practically pain free and an enthusiastic member of the Y. She has recently joined as a volunteer.

“This has made a significant difference physically, emotionally and mentally,” Pat said. “If there’s one thing I could tell people in our community, it’d be to get off the couch! Just get here (to the Y). All the tools you need are here, and the people are wonderful.”

Pat’s husband soon joined her in the self-improvement journey at the Y and has lost 45 pounds in addition to experiencing increased energy and pain relief.

“This Y is the gem of our community,” William said. “And sometimes I just come to visit my friends here.”

Socialization is another of many benefits of joining the Y, as experts attest to social aspects of group activities promoting emotional well-being, particularly important for retirees who may feel isolated.

Healthy Living Director Bonnie Clark said the Y has implemented nine Healthy Living programs in the past five years. Designed to prevent disease and lessen effects of health challenges, most of these programs are offered at no cost to non-members and members. The programs combine exercise and classroom time and are designed specifically for weight loss, cancer, pre-diabetes, balance, Parkinson’s and more.

“Many of these programs are supported through grant funding,” Clark said.

Upon joining the Williams YMCA, members can set up an orientation and four half-hour coaching sessions at no cost. In addition to the Wellness Center with an assortment of equipment and free weights, about 60 group exercise classes — from yoga to Zumba and spinning — are featured. A heated pool, track, and separate sports facility are among countless options to enjoy at the local Y.

“There’s always a wellness coach present to help you,” Pat said. “I’ve been to many gyms and Y’s over the years... the people here are outstanding.”

YMCA membership fees range from $27/month for a student to is $77/month for a family. A sliding scale fee based on income is also offered. For more information call (828) 737-5500 or click to www.ymcaavery.org.

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