Around this time of year, exhausted parents are looking for an energy boost. We wouldn’t say no to some positive vibes and renewed strength to last through the winter, too. Exercise is just the thing, but if the thought of the treadmill or exercise bike brings real tears, here’s something to try instead: strength training.
“The benefits of strength training for women have been undervalued for years in favor of cardio,” says Rebecca Baizas, Fitness Experience Director at Farmington Family YMCA. “Come into the gym and you’ll see people who want to lose weight doing cardio. But if you start with weight training, you’ll work toward having optimal muscle density, which is a good thing.”
Look at it this way: For every pound of muscle we build, we burn roughly 50 calories in addition to whatever else we do, Baizas says. “If you gain five pounds of lean muscle, you’re burning 250 calories each morning just by waking up. It revs your metabolism and keeps you going.”
If you’re looking to start — or return — to a strength-training program, Baizas recommends trying Les Mills Bodypump, a workout that uses lower weights but higher repetitions to challenge all major muscle groups. “Simply put, it’s a barbell workout for anyone who is looking to get lean, toned and fit fast,” she says, adding that Bodypump classes are offered in 30-, 45- and 55-minute sessions.
You could go to a fitness center and pay for Bodypump classes. But here’s a better idea: become a member at your local YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit and take advantage of this popular program for free.
“If you are a member with us, it’s part of your member benefit package, along with access to all group exercise classes. There’s no additional fee, and most Ys have 30-45 group exercise classes on the schedule each week,” Baizas says. She lists yoga, aquatic fitness, Pilates, step aerobics, cycling, Zumba, boot camp and many other classes, in addition to access to the pools and wellness centers. Your local Y might have a racquetball court or a walking track, too.
So many benefits of YMCA family membership
Family membership at the YMCA is $89 a month — that’s less than $3 a day — and includes most everything available, plus preferred registration for fee-based programs like youth sports, swim lessons and summer camp.
A few huge benefits make the Y a smart choice for families, says Baizas.
“Your Y has Child Watch, which is free for members. Come in and take a class and drop off your child, take a shower and sit in the sauna. Just have a bit of time to yourself, a private moment without interruption,” she says.
Each Y also has a weekly activity just for kids. At Farmington Family YMCA, Baizas describes a weekly fit fun class in the gym that’s never the same twice. “There might be an obstacle course for kids to try or a game, like red light-green light, but taken to a whole new level,” she says. “Parents can work out while their kids are doing the same.”
On top of all these great activities, once a month, each Y offers a Parents Night Out. “You drop your kids off at 5, they do a craft, go swimming, play games in the gym, eat dinner, watch a movie, all while you’re having an evening out,” Baizas explains. “You come back at 9 and your kids are tired and ready to go home. With the rates of babysitting these days, $89 might cover a night out, but this is completely free for YMCA family members.”
And, through the “Y For All” program, families with an annual household income of less than $49,000 can qualify for a reduced family membership rate.
Learn more about YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit. Visit ymcadetroit.org/ymca-membership.