Brian Thor Pays it Forward
In my mid-thirties my lifestyle was pretty sedentary and my body showed it. I really needed larger pants and the bathroom scale told me I was nearing a milestone I didn't want to achieve. I had three young kids to keep up with and I knew I needed to make a change in my life.
I began riding my bike again with my friend Mark Carlson. I started to lose weight and gain some muscle and improved body image. If he couldn't go, I often wouldn't either. I learned a big part of the exercise was enjoying time doing something I liked but I needed the support of a friend. When fall came the bikes would go into storage and my sedentary lifestyle returned. In the spring, we would get our bikes out again, try to regain our training and lose a few pounds of "winter" weight. After about five years this got harder. That's when I decided to take a look at the Y.
In the fall of 2010 I picked up a catalog of the Y's offerings. I saw a class called fxStrength for men. It was geared toward men of 35 years old with the idea that we need functional resistance training to fight the natural effects of aging. My friend John Johnson said he would join me in the class.
I'll have to admit I was a little intimidated because I really didn't know what I was in for. We walked in that first morning and I saw the instructor, Jim Appino, sitting on a physio ball waiting for students to arrive. He looked like an Army drill instructor to me. I quickly learned he was a super nice guy who had our best interest at heart. We have become friends and John and I have been going ever since.
Jim taught us how to use the equipment at the Y as well as how to train. Almost immediately I was coming to the Y four or more mornings per week to practice what I was learning. I was making friends in fxStrength as well as in the Wellness Center. I started attending other classes and getting to know people there as well. Going to the Y was the best part of my day. I would get up year-round before the sun, no matter the weather, to see the people and to workout.
Jim suffered an injury while coaching basketball. I was able to jump in and lead the class for 20 weeks. This experience prompted a pathway to earn my personal trainer certification. In the last couple of years I have started running. Again, this was because of the influence of a Y instructor, Shannon Spiess. After attending one race as a spectator and then participating in one where I placed third in my division I was hooked. There was a team of Y members formed a couple of months later with the goal of running a half marathon. Now I run almost daily and usually one race per month. One of my best friends, Dan Alita, is someone that I really got to know through running.
While training for that half marathon I got to know Melissa Burns the Executive Director of the Northeast Branch as we were both on the team. She asked me to join the Northeast Advisory Board. I was happy to jump in to serve the branch, my home away from home. As I learned more about the workings of the Y, I found that in addition to membership fees there are fund raising campaigns that help to make budgets. I also learned that many of the services provided by the Y are either subsidized, or free, depending on need. It was at this point that I was asked to become a donor and I am happy to give as I am able. I encourage others to join me in support of the Y.