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Ester Marsh: Whatever shape you’re in, the Y is waiting

Yes, you can!

I want to take a moment to thank all our veterans on this Memorial Day.

I am proud to be part of an organization where truly everyone is welcome. I love the variety in ethnicities, financial backgrounds and physical and mental challenges. When you come to our YMCA, we are all the same! In the last year or so we have collaborated with our local Novant Health, where we have classes geared towards Parkinson’s patients. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system which affects movement. One of the typical early warning signs can be small tremors in one hand.

I am in awe when I see this group exercising. There are people with different levels of ability, but each one of them will give it their all to keep on moving. I am also so pleased to see more and more people who have been affected with a stroke, or multiple strokes, come and exercise. You see, people’s desire and effort to at least try is what keeps me going. No matter what limitation they may have, I see people every day who will do anything to keep on moving. We have members come in with their electric wheelchairs, walkers or canes, and they all have one thing in common — the desire to just to keep going. Many of them have improved tremendously; some of them have been able to stop the regression, and then there are others who take four steps forward and two steps back again. They know they are still two steps ahead from where they started so they keep on going.

One of my inspirations and friend is a beautiful lady who has CP. Cerebral palsy is a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture that is caused by damage that occurs to the immature, developing brain, most often before birth. Don’t let her fool you with her body “limitations” — she is super smart and very funny AND will work out with no assistance. So to get to the point of this story: YES, you CAN! But you have to want it! You have to make the sacrifices and you have to set the first “step.”

We have knowledgeable staff and equipment to help you get started no matter what shape you are in. If there is a need for special assistance, such as lifting someone out of a chair where multiple people are needed to get someone in the pool or on equipment, just give us a call beforehand so we can be prepared to have the people there to help you. For the ones who think they are too old, or too weak, or too injured check with your doctor first, but I can almost guarantee you that they would want you to start an exercise program. You might need to start with licensed physical therapists first, but before you know it, you will be doing so much more than you ever dreamed you would be able to do.

Where there is a will there is a way…

Ester H. Marsh is health and fitness director for the JF Hurley Family YMCA.

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