Jen Baroletti shares her journey to Y membership and healthy living.

I have always been a fairly active person but had never been super interested in fitness. I always hesitated to join a gym, as I didn’t know how to use any of the equipment. I just assumed I would feel awkward and out of place.

As a working mom of a preschooler and a toddler (both in daycare at the DEFY Early Learning Center) I found myself in a rut – surviving on coffee and peppermint patties to get me through the day. I knew that becoming more active would increase my energy level.  I joined a challenge group to hold myself accountable. I was determined to make lifestyle changes to set a healthy example for my kids.  I started making healthier food choices and running for exercise. A close friend, Leann, suggested that I join the Y so that we could motivate each other and work out together.  Leann is also an Early Learning Center parent and a member of the Down East Family YMCA.  With the discount a membership provided on childcare it was a nominal cost, so I agreed.  After living in Ellsworth for almost five years, I finally became a member of the Y in May 2017.

For over a year now, I’ve worked out regularly at the Y.  I have tried fitness classes and used the equipment in both the cardio and weight rooms.  When the weather is nice, I change in the locker room and head outside for a run.  Each time I walk through the doors at the Y, I am greeted with a smile.  The personal trainers are so encouraging. Emily Carney has taken the time to show us how to use the weight room and TRX equipment, and regularly checks in with a friendly “Hey girls! What are we doing today?”  I know that she asks because she genuinely cares. When we run into the Chief Executive Officer, Peter Farragher, he always gives a wave with an encouraging, “Great to see you! Nice job!” Each and every member of the Y staff with whom I have interacted has been both personable and helpful.

I quickly realized that all of my concerns of feeling awkward and out of place at a gym were unfounded here. Seeing these people – of all ages and all fitness levels – working out around me was so empowering!  We are all here, some of us out of our comfort zones, getting active to improve our health. It’s inspiring!  The Y is a pillar in our community and has so much more to offer than just gym equipment and fitness classes. The sense of community and camaraderie I feel at the Y is amazing.  I had met several of the Y staff members from my involvement with the DEFY Early Learning Center, but engaging in conversations with them has really shown me that there is a “Y family”, and I am amazed at how quickly I became part of it.

Leann and I have completed two Tough Mountain Challenges, participated in various road races, and have been training for the MDI Half Marathon – which is this Sunday, October 14. We are ready!  I feel stronger and more confident than I have ever felt, both physically and mentally, since joining the Y and making the shift to a healthier lifestyle for my family. I look forward to my workouts, and I feel more connected to others in my community as a result of the relationships I have formed through my membership at the Y.  I still drink my fair share of coffee, but I have cut down significantly on the peppermint patties. If you’ve been on the fence about joining, I encourage you to give the Y a try!