Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Never though of yourself as a runner? Think again!

Can you think of a million other things you would rather do than go for a jog? Or don't consider yourself a runner? Well you're in luck! Anyone can complete a marathon, with the proper training. Alright, a marathon may seem a little unrealistic for most at this moment, so where do we begin? With this Couch to 5k training schedule we can turn you into a runner in no time! Most people get discouraged from running when they start out too fast, or don't set realistic goals. Simply start out with just 20-30 minutes of jogging and walking a few times a week.

This program has been generated for beginners, try to not get impatient or jump ahead in the program. If you follow this 9 week workout plan you will be ready for your first 5k run!!

Click here for the complete 9 week schedule and more information from

After you complete these 9 weeks your going to love running and wonder why you didn't get started years ago!  If you would like more running tips or some motivation feel free to contact our Fitness Director, Stefanie Ash, at 360-336-9622 or

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Study Finds Technology, Time, Money is Challenge for Families

The in a study recently commissioned by the YMCA, more than 1,600 parents across the nation were surveyed to determine what their actual health habits were. One of they key findings of the study was that parents are having trouble getting their children healthy because of technology, time and money.

Much of it comes down to parents needing to lead the kind of lifestyle they want their children to lead. Are you one of the 42% of parents who said technology (television, games, cell phones) distracts their children? You cannot simply place blame on the kids, however, because 53% parents said the opt to spend their leisure time with their children on the computer playing computer games. Can we expect our children to lead healthier lives than their parents?

Perhaps you can relate to the 38% of parents who said they feel extracurricular activities are too expensive and the 38% of parents who feel there just is not enough time in the day to achieve a healthy lifestyle for their children.

At the Y, we understand the challenges parents face as they try to make their families healthier, so we try to make it easier for everyone. Our activities are fun and exciting enough that many kids would rather participate in them than play video games. Our prices our low enough that most families can afford to participate, but for those who cannot, they can take advantage of our scholarship program; no one is turned away because of an inability to pay. We offer activities at a variety of times to fit with any schedule. But more than scheduled activities, we offer resources, ideas and information that you can apply at home to make your family the healthiest it can be on your schedule.

For more information about how the Y can impact your family, go to or

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Are Your Kids Healthy? Think Again.

According to a recent survey, 9 out of 10 parents think they are providing a healthy environment for their children. Unfortunately, most of them are not.

The YMCA survey, as reported by USA Today in this article, found that 74% of parents surveyed say their kids DO NOT  get at least one hour of moderate/vigorous aerobic activity per day; only 14% of parents give their children at least 5 fruits and vegetables per day. The article details more interesting and alarming findings about our nation's children, gives ideas for solutions, and also points out that resources are available for families.

Families in Skagit Valley have a great opportunity to learn to be healthier and have fun at Healthy Kids Day this Saturday! Healthy Kids Day is a national YMCA initiative in response to the growing epidemic of childhood obesity and resulting conditions, like Type II Diabetes. Healthy Kids Day is 10am-2pm, April 16 at the YMCA Sports Center in Bakerview Park and is FREE for everyone. We will have local companies and organizations who care about showing kids and their families how to live healthier lifestyles, games, raffles, demonstrations for activities like Zumbatomic and Yoga, and more! Make it a play date!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Feb. 9 2011 was Officially YMCA Day

The Skagit Valley Family YMCA recently received an official proclamation, resolution and certificate signed by Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire and Secretary of the Senate Thomas Hoemann declaring that Feb. 9 2011 was YMCA Day!

The documents stated this designation was made because 2011 marks the 160th anniversary of the founding of the first YMCA in the United states and because of all we've done in the State of Washington! YMCAs have become the heart of community life in neighborhoods and towns across Washington State and serve citizens regardless of faith, race, ability, age or income. We also have more than 20,000 individual volunteers each year giving $6.9 million in time who work to strengthen their communities (wow)!

They go on to state that YMCAs in Washington State serve more than 320,000 adults and 290,000 children through health programs, such as chronic disease prevention, swimming, sports, and fitness programs. YMCAs of Washington also provide more than $40 million annually in funding scholarships, subsidies, partnerships and sponsorships.

With numbers and statistics like these it's no wonder the State of Washington (including State Senators Brown, Ranker, Swecker, Fain, Litzow, Shin, Prentice, White, Hill, Murray, Becker, Hobbs, Faser, Regala, McAuliffe, Kline, Chase, Kilmer Sheldon, Rockefeller, Eide, Hatfield, Kohl-Welles, and Roach) decided it was time to recognize the Y with it's very own day! We are proud of all we do and proud to have you with us as we work together to focus on Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility!

If you happen to catch Bob in his office, he might let you sneak a peak at the official certificate, too.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Newsletter Sneak Peak!

Have you gotten your YMCA Today Newsletter yet? We are very excited about this edition of the newsletter because it features stories of your neighbors who have been positively impacted by donations you have given during the Step Up Campaign (going on now). 

See below for our front page story about the LaCroix family in Anacortes whose lives have been changed by Step Up funds and the opportunity to send Jaden to the Early Learning Center at Whitney Elementary School.

Four year old Jaden of Anacortes loves to get dirty. He also loves reading and sharing with his dad, Tyson LaCriox, what he learns each day at the Whitney Early Learning Center.
“[Jaden’s] enthusiasm for learning has grown since being enrolled in the program,” Tyson said.
YMCA Early Learning Centers are located throughout the Skagit Valley and serve children one month to six years old. According to Tyson, the YMCA ELC at Whitney Elementary School in Anacortes has had a big impact on the life of his family.
“The YMCA provided Jaden with an opportunity to socialize, learn and grow while receiving the child care that we need,” said Tyson. “This socialization dramatically helped improve his social and communication skills and has brought new levels of confidence to him.”

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sleep is not just for rest

Did you know that there are more than 90 sleep disorders that can cause health problems down the road?!

Murali Maheswaran from Skagit Valley Medical Center came to the Y on Tuesday, March 15 for our Brown Bag Lunch Series to discuss the importance of sleep and how sleep can cause, or cure, some health problems. It is amazing to think that getting quality sleep can help with depression, irritability, nervousness, fatigue, and aches and pains, and more! 

Although the quantity of sleep we get is important, the quality of sleep is essential for our well-being. “Sleep isn’t 1/3 of our day for nothing,” said Murali Maheswaran. "Sleep plays a huge role in our body function." 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

2011 Step Up Campaign!

The lobby of the Skagit Valley Family YMCA is slowly filling up with stars...of the paper variety (even though we all know each YMCA member who comes through the lobby is a star, too).

The stars in the lobby each have the name of an individual or organization who has donated to the 2011 YMCA Step Up Campaign, the annual fundraiser that raises money to support our neighbors in need, which has officially kicked off!

In 2010, one in four Skagit YMCA members was a scholarship member, meaning that while they could not afford to pay for a membership to the Y, we were able to give them a membership at a reduced rate (based on what they qualified for)...all because of the funds raised during Step Up. Children, families and adults of all types needed and were able to take advantage of the Y scholarship program because, at the Y, we believe no one should be turned away from a healthier lifestyle because of their inability to pay.

Step Up funds also help children who wanted to play YMCA sports, go to YMCA Child Care and Camp Anderson. We know that the only way to make lasting personal change is if we work together to invest in our children and our neighbors. Last year, you showed you cared by helping us break the Step Up record: we raised more than $57,000! However, we also gave more than $140,000 in scholarships and the need is increasing, so we need your help more than ever.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Blog Winner!

Congratulations YMCA blog follower Linda! You are a winner just for following the Skagit Valley Family YMCA blog! What did she win?

  • One "Y" t-shirt
  • One"Y" bracelet
  • One "Y" exercise bag
  • One hour of FREE personal training!
Linda, please send an email to Marketing Director Vanessa Harrington at by Friday, March 4 with your t-shirt size and we'll make arrangements for you to get your prizes! Congratulations!

We will do a blog-follower drawing again, so all of you who check the blog periodically after you receive our weekly email, do yourself a favor and become a follower!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

National Safe Place Week

The Skagit Valley Family YMCA is proud to participate in its first ever National Safe Place Week taking place March 13-19. During this week, there will be activities and educational opportunities about Safe Place as Oasis aims to recognize participating volunteers and businesses while educating the community at large. Specifics about these events and activities will be announced at a later date.

The YMCA Oasis Homeless Teen Shelter runs one of only two Safe Place programs in the state of Washington. Teens experiencing abuse, family problems, or a crisis situation can call the Safe Place 24 hour hotline to speak with an advocate, find a safe place to sleep for the night, or connect to community resources.  Throughout the county, you can see yellow and black diamond shaped Safe Place Signs, found on local businesses and community buildings. These signs indicate to youth in need that the building is a trusted site with trained employees who can find the youth the help they need.  The youth will be connected to a Safe Place Volunteer who will arrive within minutes to help. 

The Safe Place Project is an example of how the Y continues to provide support to youth in our community. The program provides training resources, and support to impact change and bridge gaps to help our youth and our society to overcome obstacles. The Oasis Safe Place Program works to offer support for Sedro-Woolley, Concrete, Burlington, Mount Vernon, Anacortes, and La Conner. For more information regarding the site and locations, or emergency services for  teens, please call 419-9058 or our 24 hour hotline at 360-708-6450.  Go to the Oasis Teen Shelter page of our web site for all Safe Place locations and details.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Web Site Preview!

The staff at the Skagit Valley Family YMCA are hard at work creating a new YMCA web site.

"The time is now because we need to reorganize our activities and change our look to match the new national re-branding guidelines," Marketing Director Vanessa Harrington said.

The new web site, planned to launch in mid-march, will have interactive calendars for each department/program that will allow users to see what activities are coming up filtered by each day, week, and/or month. It will also allow users to search for specific activities within that department. For example, someone interested in trying the Boot Camp fitness class, will be able to search for just Boot Camp classes on the fitness calendar. This will be the case for all registration deadlines, classes, special events, closures, and more!

The staff are very excited about the web site because it will allow them to make changes as they come up, post their own flyers/registration forms, and add events to the calendars without going through another person. This should reduce the amount of time it takes to update information on the web site...and the program directors will have no one to blame but themselves if the appropriate information isn't on the web site.

"We're so grateful for the web site we have right now; it was a huge improvement from the one we had before," Membership Director Cindy Lindquist said. "Before our current web site, we couldn't even put registration forms or flyers up without an ordeal. But now it's time to change again and we're hoping members and the general public will respond."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Story of Diane Hall

At the beginning of 2010, Diane Hall looked like many of her family members (some of whom were deceased): seriously overweight. As an ICU nurse at a hospital that specializes in gastric bypass surgery, Diane was very familiar with the path she had started going down: going from doctor to doctor being prescribed medication after medication for weight-related issues like high blood pressure.

Diane knew she needed to make some changes, so she bought her first pair of tennis shoes and started exercising for the first time in her adult life. Unsure of her commitment, she joined the Skagit Valley Family YMCA because of its inexpensive rates, but soon learned the support from staff and fitness opportunities at the Y were exactly what she needed to achieve her goals.

As an inexperienced exerciser, it was a big step just to make the effort.

"Just showing up and finishing was my goal," Diane said.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

YMCA Child Care Programs Help Kids Make Healthy Choices at Home

Last year several Y's Kids Before and After School child care sites implemented the CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Heath) program in an effort to teach children how to be active and make healthy nutritional choices. The Skagit Valley Family YMCA partnered with the Skagit County Healthy Communities Project, Skagit Valley Hospital, United General Hospital, and Chlidren of the Valley. The impact the program has had on these kids and their families at home is an example of how great an impact the Y can have on your children and our community.

Prior to the program (at the beginning of the year), the kids were given a fitness test and nutritional questionnaire for baseline information. What we found was not encouraging:
  • 44% of the children tested were overweight or obese
  • 48% were borderline or need to improve their cardiovascular endurance
  • 67% are borderline or need work on hamstring flexibility
  • 27% and 34% were borderline or needed to work on muscular strength (pull-ups and curl-ups respectively)
Here at the Y, we know we can make lasting personal and social change only by investing in children and our neighbors. The Y, along with other community organizations, worked together and saw some significant changes in behavior and attitude with the CATCH program over the course of four months. Our teachers implemented daily physical activities and/or nutritional education that only taking up 15-30 minutes per day!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Y Inspiration-Katie Heller

Katie Heller before her lifestyle transformation.
Katie and her husband after losing 135 pounds!

Just by looking at Katie Heller, 39, of Burlington, you can see she has a lot of energy. And those of us who have known her longer realize that we are looking at a completely different person from about three years ago. In fact, she's 135 pounds smaller than that person three years ago.

"A couple of years prior to my starting my adventure, my mom was very ill, and we almost lost her," Katie said. "After watching her go through some weight-related complications, I decided I didn’t want to be in that spot down the road and all of the sudden it was becoming very real that that was the direction I was heading.  Also, I was a little less than 2 years from my 20 year high school reunion, which proved to be good motivation."