My Y Story: Marilyn

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“This therapy was my heaven on earth experience.”

Marilyn’s first experience with the YMCA began nearly 50 years ago when she worked as a Pre-k teacher and fitness instructor at the old Y on Humboldt Parkway in Buffalo. After an impressive career in education of 45 years, teaching as far away as the Cote d’Iviore in West Africa and her last positions were in the Buffalo Public Schools, she retired in 2015.

“I rejoiced as I turned the corner achieving my retirement and my dreams of resting and doing the things I had no time to do,” says Marilyn. A year later, she learned that her health insurance package included SilverSneakers, a fitness program for active older adults that’s offered at YMCAs across Western New York. “That’s when the Independent Health YMCA blessed me with the help I dearly needed.”

Marilyn has had two knee surgeries and suffers from arthritis, so she was instantly drawn to the Y’s water aerobics classes. “As soon as I walked in people welcomed me and acted like they knew me,” she says. “The people at the Y are very open and friendly.” She specifically remembers instructor Deneen guiding her through her first class. “I didn’t feel lost in the new routine. I felt that I was always a member in this community.”

After class, Marilyn was introduced to the hot tub, something she’s always dreamed of having to help soothe her arthritic joints. “When I first walked into the water, I cried,” she says. “This therapy was my heaven on earth experience. I sat down, closed my eyes, and thanked God for blessing me in this way.”

Marilyn says she’s always encouraging her friends to join her in the SilverSneakers Program. “This is what I’ve been waiting for,” she says. “We need to encourage each other and support each other to continue to exercise. I am so grateful that I have a YMCA to go to.”

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