Thursday, January 21, 2010

Winter as it could be

When you were a child what made winter something to look forward to rather than dread? It was the snow: transforming what was known and ordinary into a new world filled with mystery, intrigue, and adventure. Fast forward to the present: are you stressing about tomorrow's commute in the snow, desperately making backup plans for a school delay, or counting the days until this uncomfortable inconvenience will end? For a lot us the wonder of winter has become a burden and our whole mentality takes a negative slide. We don't enjoy the season like we used to: our exposure to the sun lessens, we might exercise less, and activities we love are no longer available.

Why not learn a new winter skill? Skiing or snowboarding can change your whole outlook on the coming of winter. Now I know what you're thinking: it's expensive for the family, it's cold, and I don't know how. Well here are some tips to get you started:
  1. Join a ski club. Aetna has a ski club available for anyone. A thirty dollar membership can save you close to 50% on a lift ticket. It also provides discounts at local ski shops (Alpine Haus).
  2. Rent equipment. Ski equipment doesn't need to be expensive. Rent at a local ski shop and get huge savings compared to mountain rental prices.
  3. Take lessons. Learning can be difficult, but think of the memories your family will be making together as you experience your first snow plow or carve. They cost money, but you can get discounts through ski clubs and it's the fastest and easiest way to learn.
  4. Plan an outing. Take time to prepare and plan your experience. Some mountains might be close, but have bad conditions, others might be known as family mountains (Okemo). Avoid busy weekends and holidays; you don't want to learn in the middle of thousands of people. Early and late in the season offers discounted lift tickets and more comfortable weather.
  5. HAVE FUN! Learning any new skill can be challenging, but whether you're with your family, friends, or yourself think about the benefits. Enjoy the outdoors, get a sense of accomplishment as you get off your first lift, experience a whole body workout, and enjoy the picturesque scene you remembered as a child!
The benefits of skiing do not end on the slope. If you do enjoy skiing you might find yourself more motivated to work out in the winter. Now when you come into the YMCA it won't be forced, but an extra incentive to improve your skiing. If down hill skiing isn't for you try other sports like: cross country skiing, snowshoeing, indoor rock climbing, indoor triathlons, and park and rec leagues. Most importantly, find something you can enjoy and look forward to doing in the winter!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Keeping that Resolution

Over the Holidays you ate with carefree abandon, knowing full well that you had committed to starting an exercise routine in the new year. And this year would be different because you didn't just tell yourself that you would start but you told EVERYONE. You even went down into the basement and found your old gym bag, you know the one, with the Reebok high tops and the Champion sweatsuit. You even joined the YMCA.

Well, it' been 2's it been going? Have you started with the excuses? "I'll just skip today because I need to go grocery shopping." "I'll go tomorrow, I really have to take down these Christmas decorations." "Isn't American Idol on tonight?". Before you know it you've given up. Of course you're still telling yourself that you haven't...but you have.

If this describes you, it's not too late. Before you give up, try this: work with a personal trainer. There is a reason why celebrities exercise with personal trainers and it's not because they're wealth, it's because they get results. A personal trainer can help you set and reach your goals. Your trainer will make sure that you are optimizing your time and efforts. Your trainer will motivate you by making you accountable and helping you measure your successes.

So, it's time to take your fitness personal. For info on personal training email Kristin Champagne or ask a YMCA fitness staff member.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Ribbon Project at Kids' Korner

Students of the YMCA Kids’ Korner at Macdonough School had the opportunity to show caring and compassion by creating handmade pink ribbons for breast cancer patients in Connecticut.

The Ribbon Project is a community art project founded by Miss Porter’s School senior, Jenny Roach. Participants craft handmade pink ribbons using non-ribbon materials. These “ribbons” are then distributed by Jenny to breast cancer patients in local hospitals and cancer treatment centers. The Ribbon Project connects nicely to our YMCA positive value, CARING, which is also featured as #26 on the Search Institute’s List of 40 Developmental Assets.

Our Kids’ Korner program contacted Jenny Roach via The Ribbon Project website ( after the Hartford Courant had posted an article about her work. Jenny immediately sent our site a publicity packet, including posters, postcards and websites about the project. (You can find The Ribbon Project on Facebook!) We also placed a PINK DONATION BOX on site, looking for donations of fun pink materials for Jenny. She accepts a variety of materials, including fabric, ribbon, beads and fake flowers. Soon after, Jenny agreed to visit our site and speak to the children about creating and planning service-learning projects, including how she turned her inspiration into a reality.

On Friday, December 18th, Jenny brought along pink foam sheets that she had formed into ribbon shapes and bag full of decorative pink objects. Every Kids’ Korner student worked together to create several ribbons that Jenny was then able to take for distribution. To date, The Ribbon Project has created well-over 1000 “ribbons” for Connecticut breast cancer patients. Our program is glad to have contributed to this achievement.

Kids' Korner Visits Coffeehouse Recording Studio

Twelve Macdonough School Kids' Korner students participated in their second Kids’ Korner CD Production Club with Michael Arafeh of the Coffeehouse Recording Studio. The first project was an updated version of the school song, “Knowledge is Power.” This second CD, Holiday Songs, features four tracks and includes holiday classics such as “Jingle Bells,” “Deck the Halls,” and “Auld Lang Syne.” The final song on the track, “Auld Lang Syne” features several well-wishes from the students. There is also a special reading of Moore’s poem, “T’was the Night Before Christmas” where each child read lines from the story. While walking to and from the Main Street studio, the children wassailed and delighted several people with their holiday cheer. Each child who was involved with the project received two copies of the CD, one copy for themselves and a copy for gifting this holiday season. Also, CD sales to Macdonough Staff went quite well. Hopefully these joyous carols will delight for years to come.

Try the Y Week!

I read a blog written by Seth Godin everyday. For a long time I kept it to myself, and just walked around with this feeling that I knew something that very few others did.
Then it struck me, I need to share this so that other people could get the same benefit that I do. That got me thinking about our YMCA. So many people LOVE our YMCA, but they often keep it to themselves. Well, we are trying to change that.
Beginning on Monday, January 11th we are having "Try the Y" Week and it is an opportunity for our members to "show off" and "brag" about their YMCA. We want them to bring a friend to an exercise class or have another family join them for Open Swim. There are so many wonderful things that happen here at the Middlesex YMCA and so many benefits to be had, we need to share the experience with others.

So, please visit our website for complete details and a schedule of "Try the Y" Week.

And just for the record, you might like Seth's blog, too.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The importance of Family Dinner

It's hard to believe the heart of the holiday season is already past us; but it is, and now we look forward to fulfilling those New Years Resolutions. Seemingly, every year we make heartfelt goals and most years, I at least, fall short: there's no time, it's not that important, or maybe I just forgot. With that being said, why not choose a resolution that benefits your family while being attainable.

The article "Family Dinner Linked to Better Grades. . ." on the ABC News website reviews a Columbia University survey that has concluded family dinners are beneficial to your children. In addition to limiting some negative social pressures associated with growing up; family dinners, or any meal in general, also "were associated with better school performance, with teens 40 percent more likely to get A's and B's". A professor of child development at Tufts University states: "At a time when kids are under a lot of stress for a lot of different reasons, having that regular mealtime that they can count on, that their parents are there for support, that can be very helpful". So we all knew dinner with the family was a good thing, but now we have proof and with our hectic schedules of practices, clubs, and play dates it's never a bad time to take a deep breath and spend some quality time with your family.

Related articles:

Family Dinner Linked to Better Grades

University of Columbia Research Study Results

Monday, January 4, 2010

Sundays are FUN Days at the YMCA

Eight years ago, Tony Sharillo, Camp Director, and I would spend Sunday afternoons trying to find the best place to watch football. The criteria were simple, lots of TVs, good wings and something to do when the games got boring, like Golden Tee video golf. Sundays were a good day.

We still look for things to do on Sunday, but now that we have young children the criteria are different...affordable, safe and something that our family can do together. That was the basis behind creating "Sunday FUN Days" at the Middlesex YMCA.

This Sunday, the YMCA Staff member, Kevin, helped us take out the gymnastic mats so that our kids could practice tumbling and then pulled out some hockey sticks and we knocked a puck around. Tony then took his son to a swim lesson, while I took mine to the family center to play some games. Sunday is still a good day.

Next week we're going to take the family fitness class and stay for Open Swim.

Why don't you bring your family to the YMCA this Sunday?