Physical activity can be hard to fit in to your day, and doing the same workout over and over can lose momentum after a while.

Group fitness can be a fun way to incorporate activity with social connections. Local participants at a Brainerd Family YMCA’s evening water exercise class recently shared with Crow Wing Energized why they exercise.

Q: Why is physical activity important to you?

Marc: I enjoy the feeling when I get out and move, biking ‘til days are below 32, then a walk ‘til temps improve.

When I arrive home I am kind of on a high. Makes me feel good.

Paulette: I have struggled with the excuse of finding time while raising my children and working full-time so I didn’t take time for myself. I also found the stress level of working long hours affected my energy level so exercising didn’t appeal to me.

Sandi: It allows me to feel healthier. Stretching muscles, improved range of motion.

Q: Have you always been consistent with exercise in your life?

Marc: No, not always, the swimming keeps me coming, adding Friday would finish off the week. Wish I had found the P.M. cardio years ago. Biking in summer is so easy to hop on and go.

Paulette: No! I find the summer is easier for me, but in the winter it was really tough. I have found when I had someone with me exercising was easier and the time passed quicker so it doesn’t seem like work, it is more like fun.

Sandi: No.

Q: How does regular exercise impact your life?

Marc: Regular exercise is a good feeling.

Paulette: I find I sleep better and my mood is definitely better and more upbeat. Plus I find I have more energy to get more things done. Imagine that using more energy gives you more energy! My husband says he definitely can see a difference in me if I miss a class or a workout.

Sandi: I feel more energetic; I sleep better. I have made friends in classes taken at the YMCA.

Q: What motivates you to keep coming to class?

Marc: Class happens for me as I like working out after a long day, feel good after class, plus conversations with new people.

Paulette: How I feel after I am done and the group of people are a new community of people I have enjoyed visiting with my during my workout.

Sandi: Being around fun people. Stretching and improved range of motion. Less stress on joints.

Q: What advice would you give someone who isn’t currently exercising regularly? How would you motivate them?

Marc: Regular exercise just tops off the day. Give it a try for a few weeks, you just may get hooked.

Paulette: Try many things until you find the thing that helps you to be consistent. I started with walking and stretching since all you need is a good pair of walking shoes. Find something you like and just start, that is what I did with the swimming class and I really enjoy it!

Sandi: Determine what you like to do, walk, run, ride bike, swim, etc. The buddy system has always worked well for me. Make exercising a social event!

Other class participants shared their thoughts as well: Physical activity has always helped me emotionally and physically. I have always exercised in some way in my life.

Biking, hiking and walking at a minimum. Regular exercise allows me to keep doing things and enjoy doing them without injury; I maintain at least a basic fitness level. I love the aqua class because I was warmly welcomed from my first class, the class is fun, challenging, and Karen and Mary are motivating instructors. The barbells are more challenging, but easier to navigate in the water. I would give advice only to those who ask so it depends on what they ask. I would offer to be a workout or aqua buddy if that would help them get started.

More about the Y’s water exercise classes

Recently the Brainerd Family YMCA received a grant from Crow Wing Energized to help add variety to the water exercise class to re-energize and motivate participants to keep moving. The YMCA was able to purchase barbells with a grant from Crow Wing Energized. In the past, there were a few sets of barbells in the equipment room but not enough for the entire class. With this grant, the YMCA was able to purchase additional barbells so they could be incorporated into the class.

Karen Johnson leads the class. She said, “I love to incorporate different exercises and equipment in my class. When you add different equipment, it allows us to use different muscle groups and it keeps the class motivated.

“Since our class is in the water, we do not have many options for equipment to work out with. The evening aquacise class loves the barbells and has used them in the deep water. For instance, we do jumping jacks in the deep water while grasping the barbells -- we bring our arms from our sides to the top of the water and repeat this motion. I try to work all of our muscle groups so we bring our arms from the front of our body to the back of our body keep the barbells under the water to create more resistance.

“The Crow Wing Energized grant process is relatively easy to complete. In our case, it allowed the YMCA to purchase enough equipment for our entire class to use at the same time. You can find the application if you go Crow Wing Energized website – check it out!”

Health and wellness grants from Crow Wing Energized

Crow Wing Energized offers grants for Workplace Wellness, Healthy Schools, and Healthy Community projects.

Applications can be found at www.crowwingenergized.org/grants or by contacting Kalsey Stults at 218-828-7343 or Kalsey.stults@essentiahealth.org.

Crow Wing Energized is a grassroots community movement led by Essentia Health and Crow Wing County Community Services to improve health and wellness in the community by making healthy choices essential. In 2018, over $74,000 in grant funding was awarded to local schools, workplaces, and community partners who provided $210,000 of in-kind support to implement health and wellness initiatives.