Tag Archives: fitness

Member Spotlight: Susan McBride

9 Aug
Susan has lived in Asheville for 16 years and has been a YWCA member on and off much of that time. With a little motivation and support from our LiveFit pilot program – Susan is back!
What brought you to YW originally? I wanted a quiet, clean work out space. I had joined the YMCA when I first moved here. Honestly, the YMCA had too much “M” for me. Guys would be working out on the weights, letting them drop, lots of grunting and groaning. Macho peacock displays of toughness weren’t something I was craving. Also, there would be folks waiting for the machines with impatience. I’m not sure if it’s still like that now. The YWCA health and Fitness Center was more appealing to me. The gym is clean and I rarely have to wait for a machine. The staff is kind, welcoming and helpful. There’s a broad range of people who use the gym and lots of little kids coming and going. It’s a lively, happy place. The group fitness studio used for yoga and other classes is also very nice.
How did you get involved with LiveFit? Out of the blue, I was contacted to be part of the pilot program. At first, I thought it was a promotional call, but it was a real offer to be part of something I was greatly in need of doing.
Tell us a little about your LiveFit experience:  I was looking to get back into a healthful routine after years of stressful work and family situations involving caregiving. I had fallen away from taking good care of myself, stress was ruling my world. Working out for me was a walk to the grocery store to get ice cream or wine. I was demoralized at being out of shape and overweight again – and the only person who could change that was exhausted, depressed me. Being part of this group was a gentle way to motivate into a more healthy routine, including good nutrition advice and support in exercising in many different ways.
Have you met any health & fitness goals yet? I have committed to working out 3 times a week and I’m sticking with that for the most part. I am also eating more healthy food. I’m a work in progress. (Aren’t we all?!)
What are your future goals? I want to do strength training and get comfortable with more equipment in the gym by working with a YW personal trainer – hopefully with Fran [who was an instructor with the LiveFit program.]
Who inspires you? People who are older than me, who are in great shape, quietly and humbly doing their thing in the gym. People who are ill, but continue to come to the gym and do their workouts. I am inspired by the staff as well. It’s good to see them working out too.
Favorite workout/class/machine:  The elliptical is a good cardio workout and easy on the knees. I also like the rowing machine and free weights.
What else do you like most about the YW? I love the childcare program. My daughter did an internship when she was a junior in high school and had an amazing experience caring for infants and learning about community outreach. I like to stop by and see the babies sometimes. They are so loved at the YWCA childcare center. I also love the officer who takes care of everybody at the YW. (That would be the one and only, Charlton Owens!) He tells folks to “get the car in gear and drive it like they stole it!” Then gives a military salute. He makes me laugh, he’s a great person.
Anything else you would like to share? Thank you for reaching out to me. The personal phone call to be part of the LiveFit pilot program was out of the ordinary and got my attention. Talking to real people about taking care of myself has been a gift!

Meet Our Facilities Staff!

29 Jul

???????????????????????????????Name/ Title: Melvin Allen, Housekeeping

How long at the YW: 1 year

Years in Asheville: 66

Favorite thing(s) about the YWCA: I am with my kids all day.

What you like to do in your spare time: Fishing

People would be surprised if they knew I… have the nickname Pep.



Name/ Title: Robert Grant, Maintenance

How long at the YW: 8 years

Years in Asheville: My whole life.

Favorite thing(s) about the YWCA: The people and activities, the gym.

What you like to do in your spare time: Sleep!

People would be surprised if they knew I… had a kidney transplant. I went through the first diabetes class at the YWCA when I was on dialysis.



Name/ Title: Julian Grant, Maintenance

How long at the YW: 3 years

Years in Asheville: 64

Favorite thing(s) about the YWCA: The people.

What you like to do in your spare time: Work out

People would be surprised if they knew I… have a brother who works at the YW [Robert Grant].



Name/ Title: Pearl Kyles, Housekeeping

How long at the YW: 2 years

Years in Asheville: All my life!

Favorite thing(s) about the YWCA: The fitness – because it’s helped me a lot. I’ve lost 20 pounds since I’ve worked here! I also enjoy my job – knowing that people enjoy a clean environment.

What you like to do in your spare time: When I’m not at work I’m usually on my iPad playing a game.

People would be surprised if they knew I… that I can deal with anybody!



Name/ Title: Charlton Owens/ Security Chief

How long at the YW: 10 years

Years in Asheville: Life

Favorite thing(s) about the YWCA: Serving the YW’s staff and members, making everyone feel safe.

What you like to do in your spare time: Chilling

People would be surprised if they knew I… used to work for the Sheriff’s department, and worked security in Ingles.

Meet Our New Club W & Aquatics Staff!

21 Jul

Natalie AnneNatalie Anne, Yoga Instructor

Class or Classes do you teach?

I teach Gentle Yoga and Back Care Yoga.

Why should people come to your class?

People should come to my class because I offer a style of yoga that is truly effective. I call it vibrant breath yoga, because it is a moving meditation in which the breath inspires the physical practice. Each class is sequenced intelligently and we use PNF, or proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, to move in and out of poses before we hold them. This maximizes the stretching potential, but in the safest way possible.

Who should come to your class?

Come to my class if you want a gentle physical practice that mobilizes breath awareness to increase strength and flexibility.  The class is designed to leave you feeling relaxed and renewed. It for all ages and skill levels, and is beginner friendly as well.

Certifications/ Trainings/ Passions

I have my Asheville Yoga Center teacher training; Forrest Yoga teacher training; NC Licensed Massage & Bodywork Therapist; and I’m currently pursuing a certification in Yoga Therapy with Gary Kraftsow. My passions include biking, soccer, good food, nature walks and live music.

Tell us one thing our members may like to know about you.

I try not to take myself too seriously. As the saying goes, ‘laughter is the best medicine’.


Tiffany CopelandTiffany Copeland, Zumba® Instructor

What class (or classes) do you teach at the YWCA?

Zumba® Fitness

Why should people come to your class?

People should come to my class for a fun, and engaging party-like atmosphere while they workout. The camaraderie is encouraging and keeps you motivated.

Who should come to your class?

Everyone is welcome!


I am a Certified Group Fitness Instructor with a license to teach Zumba®  Fitness. I love people, music and dance. My favorite dance styles are salsa, merengue, soca, reggae, cumbia and hip-hop. I teach a variety of these dance styles in every Zumba®  class with easy to follow movements.

Tell us one thing our members may like to know about you.

I’ve lost over 40 pounds during my weight-loss journey!



Tara EdwardsTara Edwards, Fitness Associate

What brought you to the YWCA?

My passion for working with those who want to implement a healthier lifestyle. I wanted to train at a gym that is filled with positive energy and passionate members. The YWCA is just that! I have only lived in Asheville for a few weeks, but the YWCA already feels like home with its supportive and family-like community.

What suggestions do you have for people just beginning their workouts?

Do not compare yourself with those around you. Instead, focus on bettering yourself day by day. We all have to start somewhere, so never forget to keep pushing yourself each day and never give up. The transition from a sedentary lifestyle to an active and healthy lifestyle can be daunting, but the YWCA offers a supportive community to make that transition. You got this!!!

What is your workout like and your “go-to” healthy snack?

My workouts vary each week, which I believe is important. Keeping your body guessing all while working various muscle groups will increase your fitness level and push you out of your comfort zone. My cardiovascular workouts vary from swimming to kickboxing to hiking while my resistance training exercises implement my own bowy weight, machines, free weights and even tire flipping, and so much more! My “go-to” healthy snack is a banana, which is packed with nutrients and energy I need to keep myself going.


I’m an ACSM certified personal trainer, AHA CPR and AED “heart saver” (for health professionals) certified, Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Georgia with a major in Exercise Sports Science. My passions include: health, fitness, and helping others achieve their goals through personal training.

Tell us one thing our members may not know about you.

I am truly excited to continue to meet and get to know members here. Don’t hesitate to say hello or ask anything you would like to know about health and fitness. If you desire to make a positive, healthy change in your life, you are at just the place!


Emily RichterEmily Richter, Aquatics

What class (or classes) do you teach at the YWCA?

I will be teaching swimming lessons as a Water Safety Instructor (WSI). I am not sure exactly what classes I will teach yet, but it will likely be babies and young kids.

Why should people come to your class?

I have loved swimming and being in the water ever since I can remember. My mom has told me stories of my first swimming lessons as a baby and I think that it’s very important to introduce kids to the water as soon as possible. There is so much to enjoy and the sooner you get started the more comfortable you will be.

Who should come to your class?

Anyone who would like to learn to swim. While it’s great to start early, it’s never too late to learn. You should come to my class if you are interested in having fun and learning to love the water!


I have my Water Safety Instructor (WSI) certification, and am an avid swimmer and whitewater kayaker. I am currently training for a half Iron distance triathlon, which requires a 1.2 mile swim. I am passionate about the outdoors and enjoying life to the fullest!

Tell us one thing our Members may like to know about you.

I am an interior designer, graphic designer, and artist when I’m not teaching swimming lessons!



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.

Club W Open House Monday, September 9

5 Sep

The public is invited to an Open House at Club W: The YWCA Health & Fitness Center on Monday, September 9.

Stop by 185 S. French Broad Avenue any time that day to try out classes, equipment, and the pool for free. There will be pump, Zumba, yoga, aerobics, Pilates, and cycle classes. Lap swim and water aerobics will be offered in the YWCA’s solar-heated pool.

In addition, the enrollment fee will be waived for anyone who joins Club W.

For more information, call 254-7206 x 213 or go to www.ywcaofavl.org.
club w

photo by sandra stambaugh

Have You Tried Tabata?

18 Apr

One of our new classes in Club W: the YWCA Health & Fitness Center is Tabata, which meets Mondays and Wednesdays at 11:30 am. This high intensity class is 30 minutes, allowing a members to fit a great workout into their busy days.

tabata-training-stop-watchNot sure what Tabata is? Tabata was founded in Japan by Izumi Tabata. He conducted tests on two groups of athletes; comparing moderate high intensity training with high intensity interval training. The results were that the athletes training in high intensity interval training improved their aerobic systems as well as their anaerobic system. The athletes who did the moderate high intensity training only improved their aerobic system and had little to no increase in their anaerobic system. Tabata is fun, blasts calories, and moves so quickly it’s hard to get bored. You do 20 seconds hard work, with 10 second rest then repeat for a series of cycles with a 30 second rest in between.

 The Wednesday class is taught by Ashleigh Shuford, a AFAA Certified Group Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer, TurboKick and PiYo Strength Certified Instructor. She’s instructing classes for over 6 years (with a small break to focus on her little one). Says Ashleigh, “My favorite part of being a fitness instructor is motivating people to have a great time while working hard. I think exercise should be fun and a reward to yourself, not a chore! It’s awesome and super-rewarding to see people feel proud of themselves after a tough workout…that’s what makes them come back for more week after week!”

We encourage you to give Tabata a try! You can find a schedule of all of our Club W classes on our website. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact our Director of Health & Fitness Susan Macdonald at 254-7206 x 113 or smacdonald@ywcaofavl.org.