Allen Finds Motivation to Stay Healthy at YMCA

Boot Camp, CrossFit, Market2Market relays and early morning workouts may not be on the list of things to do for many retirees. But, they are for Barb Allen.

Barb, 62, is a retired teacher and has amped up her exercise routine the past six years to stay healthy, active and connected. The YMCA has helped by giving her workout partners, providing classes to attend and a way to stay accountable to her goals.

She recently ran 3.7 miles and 4 miles in two stretches of the Market2Market relay from Omaha to Lincoln (her fourth time participating) along with several family members, and she enjoys the YMCA’s new CrossFit Motivate class at least four days a week, usually at 5 a.m.

“I’m disciplined enough to get up at 4:45 a.m., but I’m not disciplined enough to exercise on my own,” Barb said.

That’s why she is grateful for the YMCA for herself. But, she also is grateful the YMCA is here for the entire community, and that is why she has volunteered her time to lead the 2019 Annual Campaign at the Don Sjogren Community YMCA.

Barb’s YMCA Beginnings

Barb’s first YMCA experience was right after college when she taught swim lessons at the Norfolk YMCA during the summers. She then volunteered with the capital campaign to build a new YMCA in Norfolk.

When she and her family moved to Holdrege in 1994, she immediately started exercising at the Holdrege Area Recreation Center, which eventually became the YMCA.

She comes from a family of exercisers, including several siblings who run marathons. Her sister is the director of the Lincoln Marathon. And, even on vacation, her family hikes and exercises together.

The group accountability within her family has always helped Barb to stay active. But, since her family lives several hours away, the YMCA has become her accountability family.

“That’s why I like the Y,” Barb said. “I go to classes. It’s very hard for me to exercise on my own. I love the camaraderie at the YMCA.”

Amping Up Her Exercise

After Barb retired from teaching six years ago, she joined her first Don Sjogren Community YMCA boot camp.

“I was so scared, I couldn’t sleep the night before,” she said.

The boot camp included a one-mile pre-test run, and Barb said she nearly “threw up” after she finished.

“I’ve run before, but I never sprinted like that before,” she said.

She was motivated to improve her pre-test time.

“I never felt like I wanted to beat someone,” she said. “I just wanted to improve me.”

After a few sessions of boot camp, she did improve her time by two minutes and also dropped 25 pounds. In addition to her exercise, she faithfully monitored her food intake on the MyFitnessPal app to help with the weight loss.

Part of Barb’s motivation for staying healthy is her mom, who is 92. Her mom walks a mile every day and participates in water aerobics.

“She physically has no health concerns, and I want to be like that,” Barb said.

Volunteering for the YMCA

Three years ago, Barb was asked to become a volunteer board member of the Don Sjogren Community YMCA. Because of her involvement in the YMCA and how it has helped the community, Barb said yes.

“I just think this is a great place,” Barb said of the YMCA. “I see all the kids here and all the workers who love the kids. And, it’s just a great place to meet people.”

This year, Barb has also agreed to lead the Don Sjogren Community YMCA’s Annual Campaign. While membership dues support the general operations of the YMCA, donations make it possible for everyone to belong and for the YMCA to do even more good in the community.

“I think the YMCA is a good community organization,” Barb said. “It does offer scholarships because not everyone can afford the Y. I like that. Sometimes those kids who can’t afford to come here are the kids who need it the most.”

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