All posts by Kaitlin Slack

Michelle Green, Fitness Instructor: Empowers and inspires every day!

We often hear the voice of Michelle Green, YMCA Calgary Fitness Instructor, in the gym at Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA. Michelle has been a part of the YMCA Calgary community for six years and continues to inspire and empower not just the people that take her fitness classes, but everybody around her.

She develops strong relationships with all members and truly pushes them to be the best they can be during their time in her classes. “I watch my participants come into a class and completely shut out the outside world. They work out for that full hour and then they leave almost as different people,” says Green. “They start to see changes in themselves which then causes them to empower everybody around them because people are so impressed by their changes.”

Michelle was a stay-at-home mom and out of work for 15 years. Absolutely terrified to go back to work, she says the instructors and staff at YMCA Calgary made it easier. “The instructors and staff embraced me and welcomed me with open arms. I was able to be myself.”

“The instructors here are the ones that empower me every single day,” says Green. “I get to watch them grow and change; I get to help them become the instructors they want to be. Seeing them grow and become these amazing instructors, and seeing their classes grow just because they are so liked, is truly remarkable. They constantly push and challenge me to work harder and be more creative,” says Green with a smile. “The instructors here are phenomenal, and they truly get me. I have become a better mom and more mindful of people because of them.”

Michelle makes a solid effort to connect with her class participants and gets to know them on a personal level. “I had a gentleman come into a registered class that I taught, and he was very unfit. He was a couch potato and smoker and was unable to get past the warm-up. He ended up lying on the floor laughing since he couldn’t believe how hard the class was,” Michelle recalls.

“I got to know him. I sat down with him and told him to keep pushing as there was a reason why he came to this class. I told him if he wants to see changes, he is going to have to work for it. After that, he came back to every single class for months and months and went from being a very unfit person to a U16 Soccer Referee. He is now a top Canadian Soccer Referee,” says Michelle. “This was a huge accomplishment for him. He wrote me a letter thanking me for all the changes I made for him. To this day, this person is still really close to my heart as I got to see him change so much.”

Our Fitness Instructors, like Michelle, try their best every single class to empower their participants to be the best they can be. They truly care about helping their members meet their fitness goals and will support them as best they can. If you have a Fitness Instructor that has empowered you, please share it with us by emailing: communications@calgary.ymca.ca.

Learn more about our fitness programs here: https://www.ymcacalgary.org/program-descriptions/


Self-care tips: Why yoga can help you unwind.

Self-care tips: Why yoga can help you unwind.

By: Alix W.

“Relaxing” and “parenting” are oxymorons when you think about it. When your kids are little, you are solving never-ending problems – when your kids are older, you are scared witless about how they are solving their never-ending problems. The older your kids get, the more time you have to relax, but it can still take a concerted effort to get it rolling. Like with any skill, relaxation comes more naturally, the more regularly you practice it–, the more disciplined you are building up a relaxation routine, the easier it gets. Here are some self-care tips for you! Yoga classes are the perfect opportunity to unwind – the calm, dim environment means your senses aren’t assaulted as they might be at the kitchen table or in the car. When you register for a yoga class you can start building in a regular relaxation practice around the rest of your schedule, setting a solid boundary that you are taking time specifically for yourself.

Not convinced? Here are three ways that even the most casual yoga can help you unwind.

Forces You To Take Time For Yourself – even if you don’t love yoga, even if you just lay on your mat and savasana for 75 minutes, what it gives you is permission to be uninterrupted, and permission to relax. No little minds are asking you rapid-fire questions, no emails are lighting up your phone, and there are no crumbs to sweep from under the kitchen table (again.) You have 75 minutes, trapped in a room with nothing to do but think about yourself.

Forces You To Be Aware Of Your Breath – trust me, there is no judgment here. As a mom of three kids I have taken a nap in a yoga class, even if you’re laying there barely participating, you can’t help but hear the instructor (no matter how much practice you have tuning your kids out.) Following the instructor’s rhythm with your breath will bring you a different awareness, allowing you to feel how your breath flows through your body and subtly releases tension. As the class goes on, you might find yourself starting to savor those moments where the breath is the focus of your practice, and those moments might begin to make their way into your everyday life.

Forces You To Shower After – or not, whatever! But if you do choose to take a shower after yoga class, try to do it at the gym where you can enjoy it by yourself. How many times a week do you try and shower, only to be interrupted by little ones who need to use the potty, something crashing and breaking or your phone ringing. Showering is a significant part of self-care– a shower is a physical and mental chance to refresh and start anew. If you’ve had a tough day, or if you’ve had a tough week, a shower, clean soap and even blow-drying your hair, if you’ve got the extra few minutes, can set you up for a better start.


#NoPhoneFamilyDay

#30day30challenge (February 1 – March 1)

It’s time to break free from your screen (and yes, we totally get the irony that you are reading this on a screen!) For the month of February, we are challenging you and your family to participate in our 30 minutes a day challenge (screen free!), the perfect opportunity to reconnect with yourself and your family. We’re doing our part by providing you with daily prompts and challenges to keep you on track and motivated on our social media channels.

Keep us up to date with how the challenge is going for you – what your struggles are, what your successes are, and what you’re surprised to feel as the challenge moves forward. Join our YMCA Calgary Parent Group to connect with other people doing the challenge: https://www.facebook.com/groups/YMCACalgaryParents

#NoPhoneFamilyDay (February 17, 2020)

With the help of our friends at Parenting Power, we are encouraging you and your family to put away your cell phones on Family Day (February 17, 2020) and spend more quality family time for #NoPhoneFamilyDay.

#NoPhoneFamilyDay is a one-day movement in which families unplug and spend more quality time with each other without the constant distraction of a smart phone. Most of our locations will be holding special activities throughout the day in honour of #NoPhoneFamilyDay. The activities will be open to anyone (members or non-members) but admission will apply. ‘No Phone Zone’ playing cards with 52 different family activities on them will be given out at each of our locations (while supplies last).

Schedule of activities:

Remington YMCA in Quarry Park: 1:00-3:00pm
• Crafts: Penguin Family, Family Tree, and Paper House
• Activities: Obstacle course, Elephant Soccer, Gaga Ball, Family Playground corner

Shawnessy YMCA: 1:00-3:00pm
• Family Open Gym Activities
• Supervised Open Family time on the Climbing wall

Saddletowne YMCA: 10 am – 12 pm
• Craft Table
• Obstacle Course
• Possible Open Youth Room time

Brookfield Residential YMCA: 10am -12pm
• Crafts in the Family Centre

Melcor YMCA at Crowfoot: 10am-11:30am
• Crafts and obstacle course

Shane Homes YMCA at Rocky Ridge: 12 pm – 2 pm
• Crafts in the Family Centre


Shane Homes YMCA at Rocky Ridge Teen Night

We are excited to announce that starting January 10, Shane Homes YMCA at Rocky Ridge will be launching a weekly Teen Night! Our Teen Night was created to provide an opportunity for youth to interact with others similar in age, in a safe place. The program is a free drop-in program with a YMCA Calgary membership, and each evening will feature different activities.

Schedule for Teen Night

Multi-Purpose Room #2 (Meet-up spot for Teen Night)

• 5:00 pm – 5:30 pm: Youth aged 12-14 may gather in multi-purpose room #2 for snacks, icebreakers and short games.

Gym #2

• 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm: Organized sports activity for youth aged 12-14. Each week will feature a different sport, including but not limited to: Soccer, Basketball, Floor Hockey, Gaga Ball,
Bocce Ball, Dodgeball, Kickball, Capture the Flag and more.
• 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm: Youth aged 12-14 Open Gym*
• 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm: Youth aged 12-17 Open Gym*

Youth Centre

• 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm: Open Youth Centre for youth aged 12-17. In the Youth Centre, youth will have the chance to socialize, enjoy some free food, play board games/ card games, ping-pong, air hockey, foosball, and listen to music. The activities offered will be changed from week to week and will include time for the youth to plan activities on their own.
If you or your teen have any further questions, please contact Shane Homes YMCA at Rocky Ridge directly at: 403-351-6673.

*Open Gym time provides an opportunity for youth to have their own space without skilled/intimidating adults and younger children.


Join us on December 3 for Giving Tuesday

Warm-up with free hot chocolate at one – or all – of our locations to kick off the month of Joy!  

Connect with others in the YMCA community, learn about our annual giving campaign and what you can do to share that warm Y feeling with others!  

Our Hot Chocolate Warm-up Schedule is below: 

Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA  

  • 6:30 – 8:30 am  
  • 11:30 – 1:30 pm  

Shawnessy YMCA  

  • 8 am – 10 am  
  • 4 pm – 6 pm  

Remington YMCA in Quarry Park 

  • 9 am – 11 am  
  • 11:30 am – 1:30 pm  
  • 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm  

South Health Campus  YMCA

  • 10:00 am – 1:00 pm  
  • 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

Saddletowne YMCA  

  • 9 am – 10:30 am  
  • 12 pm – 1:30 pm
  • 5:00 pm – 7 pm  

Melcor YMCA at Crowfoot  

  • 6:30 am – 8 am  
  • 10:30 am – 12 pm 
  • 4:30 pm – 6 pm  

Shane Homes YMCA at Rocky Ridge  

  • 9 am – 11 am  
  • 4 pm – 6 pm 
  • 6 pm – 8 pm  

Brookfield Residential YMCA at Seton  

  • 8 am – 9:30 am  
  • 4 pm – 6:30 pm 

Transitioning Back To School – Connecting With Your Kids

Written by: Alix W.

For most parents, back to school has a bittersweetness to it. The long, lazy days of summer are amazing. Water fights, sunshine, bubbles, watermelon for lunch, there’s a relaxed feeling in the air. Kids read books upside down on the couch, the only gear you need is flip flops and hats, and no one needs a bath, they’re running through the sprinkler every day. There’s no rushing from place to place, the sun boosts everyone’s mood, and you have the chance to create some real memories together as a family. But by the end of August, kids get bored, parents run out of ideas – everyone is ready for new company and the school year to begin.   

While the transition back to school is welcome, it can also be challenging for some families – mixed emotions, routine defiance, a decline in connectiveness and more.   

For families where both parents work, maybe your routine wasn’t all that disrupted by summer. Your kids might have had a blast at our YMCA Calgary Summer Camps and are used to the morning hustle, bagged lunch and full days. In that case, your family might be ready to tackle the long days of school, after school care and the routine that comes with it. For other families who just went with the summer flow, the transition may not be that easy. 

Every family, every kid is different, and there is no fix-all solution to make the transition easier. For my kids, I try to add a little closure to summer, which can allow them to process the idea that we’re moving on to the school year.  Create a summer photo album, and print off all your favourite photos from the last few months. Every evening spend a few minutes looking at your summer pictures and talking about what you liked best about summer. It’s an excellent way to relive some memories and then branch into talking about what they are most excited about for the school year.  It also is a great routine to keep their mind off heading to bed a little early. 

Once you are back in the swing of school, freshen up your regular routine:  

  • Find new lunch options and switch them up often 
  • Build a fresh play list to sing along to on the way to school 
  • Listen to some new podcasts on the way home 

Our annual “transition routine” has helped my family keep our fun summer memories alive, easily transition back to the school and continue to develop those important family connections we build over the summer months. 


8 tips to prepare your child for overnight camp

Can you remember the first time you went to a sleepaway camp, how scared and excited you were to be away from home? Homesickness is common at overnight camp. Many campers miss home at some point during their stay. These 8 tips can prepare your camper for homesickness 

1. Learn more about the camp with your camper so they can anticipate what it will be like

Why not plan a visit to the camp that your child will be staying at? You can also take your child and attend a pre-camp information session. Doing this will help ease some of the uncertainty your child is feeling before going to camp. It also provides a wonderful opportunity to connect with your child and build excitement around the activities that await your camper.   

2. Plan a sleepover for your child 

This is a good way for a child to learn exactly what it will be like to be away from home. Make it a game that you and your child can play, pretend that they are going off to camp, help them pack for their experience and remind them to only call home if there is an emergency. Don’t be afraid to provide some examples of what an emergency is.  

3. Talk to your child about homesickness  

It is okay to talk about homesickness with your child. However, encourage your camper to take the challenge head on and that this will be a fun adventure where they will learn lots and make lots of friends. We understand sending your child to camp is a challenge for the parents as well, but it is important that you don’t let them see your uncertainty if you are feeling that way. Show to them that your confident they will be able to overcome the challenge and have a lot of fun. Encourage them if they are feeling homesick to talk with their counsellor, friends, write a letter home or hug their favorite stuffed animal. If your child is anxious about how he/she will get a hold of you, let him/her know that the counsellor knows that you are just a phone call away if needed.  

4. Use a calendar to show the amount of time your camper will be away  

It is important to go through the calendar with your camper before they leave. This way you can show them how long they will be away from home. The visual will help the child feel more comfortable.  Also, do not plan any family-fun activities while your camper is away, this can cause the camper to feel like they are missing out on something fun while away from home.  

5. Help your camper get excited about camp  

Once you have shown your camper the dates they will be at camp. It is your job to start getting them excited about camp. Talk about camp regularly, start showing them the activities they will be doing, ask them what they are most excited about and be just as excited as they are about it. Remember, building that excitement before is crucial! Plus, you will get just as excited for your child’s adventure as they are.  

6. Pack a personal item to remind your child of home  

Sending a personal item such as a photograph or a stuffed animal will help the child feel more comfortable when away from home.  

7. Send pre-stamped, pre-addressed envelopes and paper for your camper to write letters  

This will provide an opportunity for your camper to write a letter home when at camp. Sometimes just writing down their thoughts and sending it home will help ease the homesickness. 

8. What to do at drop off… 

Avoid making comments that may reflect your anxiety around sending your child to camp. Phrases such as “I hope you’ll be ok” or “what will I do without you” may leave a child worried that something bad might happen to them or their parents which can lead to homesickness. Instead show how confident you are in them by saying “I know that you’re looking forward to a lot of the activities at camp. I can’t wait to hear your stories!”  

Overnight camp is a wonderful experience for your child to learn new skills, more about themselves and make lots of friends! Don’t let homesickness get in the way by using these 8 tips to prepare your child (and yourself!) before heading to camp.  

Information was referenced from: https://www.albertacamping.com and our Camp Chief Hector YMCA staff.  


Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA Free Friday Fitness Classes

Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA is hosting free Friday Fitness Classes for the months of July and August.

Join us at Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA every Friday at 12 pm in July and August for free fitness classes. A new class to try every week for free!  

Here is an overview of the programs Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA will be offering:  
 

  • July 19, 2019 – Kickboxing: Fight to get fit! Work to hone your cardiovascular fitness, muscles and motor skills using a variety of kickboxing moves.  
  • July 26, 2019 – Group Blast: Group Blast is an energetic cardio workout using the STEP to train fitness, agility, coordination and strength. It will get your heart pounding and sweat pouring as you improve your fitness, agility, coordination, and strength with exciting music and group energy.  
  • August 2, 2019 – TBD 
  • August 9, 2019 – Cross Training: Cut workout boredom and get with a variety of cross-training exercises. Challenge and improve your agility, core and fitness level through plyometrics and sports drills. 
  • August 16, 2019 – Yoga in the Park: Find your inner strength and balance as you de-stress in this calming class. You will improve your flexibility, strength, balance and body awareness through a series of breathing exercises and poses.  
  • August 23, 2019 – Cycle: Up your cycling skills! Come prepared for a cardiovascular workout that emphasizes proper form, technique and safety. Challenge your endurance and stamina with hills, climbs and sprints.  
  • August 30, 2019 –  Tabata Drumming: Come join us for a SMASHING good time. This fun cardio workout will get your heart pounding.

**All events are subject to change. So please stay tuned to our website for updates! 


Stampede Parade: YMCA Calgary Float

The YMCA Calgary float demonstrates the action, community-building, and fun that makes the YMCA what it is. A variety of activities children, youth and adults can experience at the Y are illustrated with figurine outlines that can be any person from anywhere, emphasizing our inclusivity and our welcoming of all people. They are playing basketball, lifting weights, running, doing yoga, skateboarding, playing music, canoeing, and hiking.

All the figures are placed on, in and around colorful ribbon-like pieces that intertwine to demonstrate the community-building that occurs when children, youth and adults gather together to participate in activities they enjoy. The ribbons also intertwine in and around the acronym YMCA to demonstrate how the Y has activities within its Centres of Community but also around the city in 60 different sites including community centres and schools.

These ribbons gather together at the front of the float to create a push bar for the people pushing the structure.  The float is in the shape of a Y and is led by large YMCA logos, a recognizable symbol of welcome, community – a safe space. The basketball backboard at the back of the float symbolizes the ingenuity of the YMCA (basketball was invented by Canadian James Naismith at a YMCA in 1891) and the constant flow of new ideas and activities at local YMCAs around our city, our country and in 120 countries around the world.   The words around the base of the float are YMCA key concepts supporting our mission – learn, grow, belong, thrive, lead, volunteer and work. They speak to the vision of YMCA Calgary, that our communities will be vibrant and healthy because children, youth and adults belong, grow, thrive and lead.


YMCA Calgary & First Calgary Financial: A signature partnership Empowering Youth with Financial Literacy Skills

Calgary AB – A $120,000 investment by First Calgary Financial in the YMCA Achievement Program (YMAP) means youth who are new to Canada will belong, grow, thrive and lead through impactful YMCA experiences, including improving their financial literacy.

The YMCA Achievement Program (YMAP) is an afterschool program that supports newcomer youth in Calgary. YMAP supports high school aged youth refugees, immigrants, international students and second-generation Canadians, representing over 50 different countries. This program provides opportunities for students to develop in all areas essential to a positive and healthy integration into Canada, while maintaining and celebrating their culture of origin.

Through this partnership, First Calgary Financial will not only provide $120,000 towards the YMAP program but also give additional support through volunteer engagement. For example, in conjunction with Financial Literacy Month in Canada (November), First Calgary Financial employees are kicking off their volunteerism by providing financial literacy workshops to every YMAP program in the city.

“Our youth are growing up in an age where spending is easier than ever, and debt is becoming a way of life,” says Shelley Vandenberg, President of First Calgary Financial. “Through our partnership with the YMCA, our employees will be helping over 300 youth learn money skills that are often not addressed at this crucial age. It’s something we’re passionate about at our credit union, and it only makes sense to give back in the communities in ways we know best.”

Over 350 youth will benefit from this opportunity, learning necessary financial skills to support their future planning.
“The opportunity to create more awareness and understanding of an important life skill, money management, perfectly complements the YMAP program which has been running for over 25 years, says Shannon Doram, President and CEO of YMCA Calgary. “Thank you to our trusted partners at First Calgary – both their leadership and staff – for their commitment to supporting newcomer youth in our diverse and evolving city.”

About YMCA Calgary

YMCA Calgary is a charity dedicated to building healthy communities. For 116 years, YMCA Calgary has been committed to nurturing the potential of children, youth and families, promoting healthy living and fostering social responsibility within the community.

About Connect First Credit Union

Connect First Credit Union offers its members a full range of financial products and services through trusted local brands and a community-focused approach to banking. Connect First is Canada’s 7th largest credit union, with over $5.4 billion in assets. Proud to employ over 700 Albertans, Connect First serves 120,000 members through 42 branches in central and southern Alberta, under the brands: First Calgary Financial, Chinook Financial, Mountain View Financial and Legacy Financial.


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