Let’s Get Active in 2023!

It’s our first Y Vibe of 2023 and we are starting off the year as we mean to go on – full of ideas and little encouragements to empower and inspire our readers! This week we are talking about the importance of moving our bodies in new and challenging ways. No matter your age or stage we think you will find some little nuggets of wisdom in here…

A history of movement

The YMCA (now the Y) has always believed in the incredibly positive effects of physical movement and exercise for our wellbeing. We have a long history of making movement fun – one of our greatest claims to fame as an organisation is that James Naismith came up with the game of basketball while working at the Springfield YMCA in Massachusetts. Now, more than one hundred years later, basketball continues to be one of the most popular activities we have on offer for children and young people.

The way to wellbeing

We all know the importance of being active, and part of our vision as an organisation is having fun ways to move that are available to everyone. The Mental Health Foundation lists ‘Being Active’ as one of their 5 Ways to Wellbeing (link words to Five Ways to Wellbeing | Mental Health Foundation) and they have loads of evidence to prove its importance. They give three key pieces of advice:



1. Do what you can

Have you ever wanted to run a marathon? You probably didn’t attempt to run 40 kilometres at your first training session, and if you did, it probably wasn’t very pleasant. Doing what you can means moving within the capacity of your body and keeping things fun!

Our Life Fit classes are a great example of programmes tailored to meet people where they are on their movement journey. With a focus on aerobics, resistance, flexibility and balance training, Life Fit classes are about listening to your body and improving in ways that work for you. There is no age limit on exercise – it’s just about figuring out what works for you!

Capacity isn’t just about your physical fitness. Heading along to the gym or a group class also takes time in your day. There can also be a temptation (usually around the same time of year that we make our New Year resolutions) to overcommit to things. Before you know it you are signed up to 101 things without any intention or time to actually achieve your goals. It can make a world of difference to sit down with a trainer and set some realistic goals that actually get you excited to hit the gym. Our staff at the Y are interested in making plans and goals that work for you, and we have a class timetable and opening hours to cater to even the busiest schedules.


2. Enjoy what you do

Moving your body might not always be easy but it should always be rewarding! We recommend trying a range of different physical activities because it might not be the first one that suits you. Whether it’s your first time at the gym or group classes, or you are returning after time away, finding the right kind of activity has a huge impact on your commitment and enjoyment of exercise. We always see lots of smiling faces in our spin classes and other group sessions, doing it with a community also seems to bring a lot more joy!

Mastery of a certain skill can also bring a great sense of enjoyment – just think about that feeling when you finally get a new yoga pose or a dance step. That kind of achievement is also really important for our children and young people. We have a huge range of after-school activities for different ages and skill levels including basketball and rock climbing to name a few.

Our staff are totally committed to sharing the joy of movement with their classes! It is also hugely rewarding to see rangatahi build their way up through the different skill levels of programmes like basketball or rock climbing.


3. Move your mood

A lot of the time people imagine being active as a means to lose weight or build muscle. While our gym team can certainly support you with those sorts of goals, we see the benefits of exercise as going far beyond just the physical. There is plenty of research to show the positive impacts that physical activity can have on our mood and wellbeing, even leading to lower rates of stress and anxiety.

The social connections made in group classes or active after-school programmes can also be super mood lifters. There’s nothing like pushing through a difficult spin session to build camaraderie (even if it’s just to go and get a well-deserved coffee together afterwards). We love the sense of togetherness within our health and fitness community – just look at last year’s cycling trip!

So, what’s next?

We hope you’re feeling inspired to get active in 2023. Maybe this is your sign to try a new group fitness class, or to take the family rock climbing this weekend… whatever you do, enjoy and remember we are here to support you!

Want more advice on setting fitness goals? Check out this article How to Set Healthy (& Achievable) Fitness Goals from January 2022.

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