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Marsh column: Keep exercising in tough times

Q. With these unstable economic times some financial advisers advise to cut your gym or YMCA memberships out of your budgets to save gas and money. Do you feel that is a wise decision?
A. Being an employee of the YMCA my first answer is Nooo! After a cup of coffee and taking into consideration my 26 years of fitness experience, my second answer is no.This is why:
I read an article where some men and women cut their membership with a health club to save money. The people who were interviewed were dedicated to exercise and were able to integrate their workouts into their daily activities whether is was running outside, working out on their home gym or following DVD exercises in front of their TV.
It seemed to work very well for them. One guy did his weight training at home but still spent $30 per month to be able to use a local health club’s pool. Now in my 26 years of fitness experience, I have seen people start and re-start an exercise program and only a very small number are successful in doing it on their own. You probably have bought a piece of exercise equipment yourself. Are you using it? Using it to hang your clothes on does not count!
I look at myself and I love to exercise! But when I am at home, I have other things that I feel I need to do before I can make time to exercise. I am too busy with everything else like laundry, cleaning and cooking. And that does not include the things that need to be done around the house like mowing, weed eating and home improvement projects and of course taking care of all our farm animals. When I know there is a load of laundry waiting for me I have a hard time focusing on exercise.
Most people exercise because they know it is good for their health or because their doctor “made them do it.” I want to get things things done so I can spend time with my family. Of course, I exercise doing my job, which makes it a lot easier for me. But so many people have told me that as long as they can come before or after work, or right after dropping off their child at school, they are very successful with their exercise program.
But when they get home they get busy with other things or are just too tired to get up and exercise. When you finally get home do you want to get up and exercise? Now there are readers out there who are very successful exercising outside of a gym setting. My hat’s off to you; it takes dedication, planning and self-motivation to be able to do that.
Something else you need to think about is, why do you exercise? Is it just to be healthy or get healthy? In my experience, socializing is a huge part of going to the gym or YMCA. And no, I am not talking about “picking up” your next date. I have made my best friends by being part of the YMCA. I know people in other health clubs like the Forum, and the Parks and Recreation Department and they have had the same experiences.
They have joined us because we care, guide, motivate, coach, encourage, push, inspire, mentor, support and accomplish things you are not able to do on your own.
Special events like our Les Mills launches, Sampler Saturdays, Aquatic kick-offs, open houses and family events have a party atmosphere where smiles are the only things you see. (On Oct. 13-19, our classes and open house is open to the public.)
And that is all for $17 for youth $38 for adult, $63 for family and $33 for seniors per month. (Financial assistance is available for those who need it)
Membership includes a top-of-the line fitness center, two indoor pools, outdoor splash pad, hot tub, more than 80 group exercise classes a week, more than 20 water exercise classes per week, indoor and outdoor tracks, racquetball courts, basketball courts, fitness Xpress, indoor climbing wall, youth gym, Xrkade, computer lab, monthly lunch and learn meetings, Y baby care 6 weeks to 18 months, Y child care 18 months to 5 years and Fun Zone for ages 5-10.
Multiply that because you are able to use the other Rowan County YMCA’s at no additional cost.
As a member, you also have big discounts on programs like afterschool care, youth sports, adult sports, swim lessons, dances, swim team, cheerleading, tumbling, day trips, evening trips and the list goes on and on.
When I look at all of things you can do for the price of a monthly membership, you got yourself a great deal! And I believe that any financial adviser would agree with that.
Ester Marsh is associate executive director of the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA. Contact her with health and fitness questions at 704-636-0111 or emarsh@rowanymca.com.

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