Pushing Boundaries: The YWCA’s Club W Helps Build Healthy Bodies and a Healthy Community

11 Feb

The YWCA’s Club W Health & Fitness Center is not your ordinary gym. Gym members can find everything you’d expect from a first-rate fitness center; but they also find diversity, acceptance, and empowerment. When you’re part of Club W, you’re part of the YWCA – where membership means mission.

021The YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism and empowering women, and has operated in Asheville since 1907 – currently serving more than 2,500 families per year. A goal of Club W is that membership helps support the YWCA’s programs, which bridge gaps in education, health care, child care and earning power.

Amanda Rodriguez is just one example of a Club W member who has benefited from the nurturing community environment at the YWCA.

Amanda moved to Asheville from Boston about 8 years ago, and is responsible for marketing and membership at the Dogwood Alliance, a local forest-protection non-profit. She also writes freelance film and TV reviews from a feminist perspective.

Six years ago, Amanda became a member at the YWCA’s Club W Health & Fitness Center. She says: “I actually wasn’t into fitness, but I had a couple of friends who were members and we started being workout buddies.”

What began as a social pursuit turned into something more as Amanda started to become more physically fit. “I started to see results, and got encouraged by it,” Amanda says. “I felt empowered by being strong and capable, by asking my body to do things and it performing, and by pushing those boundaries over and over again.” Amanda adds: “I was having a hard time in life at that time and it was a great coping mechanism.”

As Amanda got more invested in exercise she considered changing to another gym, noting that there are other local gyms that have more offerings and are less expensive. “But in the end it comes down to culture – it’s just a better environment here. Club W is supportive, encouraging, and friendly. The vibe is: ‘it’s just great that you’re here,’ as opposed to competitive: ‘you have to be stronger or better than other people.’”

029Amanda became an ardent devotee of the Club W spin classes. When one of the teachers had a family emergency and couldn’t come to class at the last minute, Amanda was asked to fill in. Since then, she’s become certified and now teaches one class per week at the YW. Amanda laughs: “When I first started teaching spin I didn’t know how to drive a car, and I didn’t know how to ride a bicycle. I just never learned. It was sort of embarrassing to be a spin instructor and not know how to ride a bike!”

Amanda learned how to ride a bicycle, and she also learned how to swim at the YW – taking adult swim and even receiving her lifeguard certification. She started working out with a personal trainer because she wanted a little guidance and help with her unique goals with fitness and strength. One of the trainers asked her why she hadn’t considered doing the triathlon training program at Club W.  Amanda’s response was: “I don’t know – because competitions are scary!” But the trainer convinced Amanda to try it, and Amanda received 2nd place in her age division.

While Amanda has lost weight since she has stopped being a self-described couch potato, she states that she’s more interested in being “strong and muscular.” Above all, she continues to come to the YW for the relationships she’s built here.

“I’ve made friends here, I talk to women in the locker room, and it’s not a meat market. I’ve built relationships with people who work here and who work out here. I’ve made some of my best friends here. It’s become part of my lifestyle.”

When you join Club W, you support YWCA’s critical programs aimed at eliminating racism and empowering women. You also are on the path to a healthier you – with access to a fully-equipped fitness center, free drop-in childcare, fun classes, swim lessons for all ages, an indoor cycling center, a convenient downtown location, and an amazing community environment. Come see us for a tour and visit www.ywcaofasheville.org or call 254.7206 x. 6 for more information.

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