Tag Archives: inspiration

Let the Rhythm Move You!

Inspiration comes in many forms, for me music is a huge motivator.  I’ve always been a musically inclined person, even if I didn’t know it.  I started in elementary school playing the recorder, graduated to the clarinet for junior and senior high school, and I still play the clarinet today, mind you not nearly as well anymore.  I have always been able to feel and move to the beat of the song but don’t be mistaken, I dance like Elaine from “Seinfeld”.  There I go dating myself again.

Music is an expression of feeling or mood, even an expression of identity for some.  I have several playlists that I listen to when working out, and they’re all based what my program of the day consists of as well as the mood I am in walking into my workout.  I edit my playlists about once a month to update my motivation and keep from overplaying these delightful gems.

When I want to hit the cardio hard, I focus on pop music, whether it’s current top 40 or from another generation all together, if it makes me smile and want to dance, it makes the cut.  This week’s current cardio-killer favorites include Justin Timberlake’s “Cant Stop The Feeling”, Will.I.Am and Britney Spears “Scream & Shout”, Nicki Manaj “Super Bass”, and Men Without Hats “Safety Dance”. Love them or hate them my friends, but they make me smile and move a little bit faster.

Weight lifting/resistance training is a completely different beast for me.  My focus and mindset changes, as I suddenly have to pay close attention to my posture and form as well as breathing and core engagement.  With so many more factors to be considered, I need something rock to focus..  My favorite lifting anthems right now include Rise Against “Prayer Of The Refugee”, Metallica “Better Than You”, and Social Distortion “Story Of My Life”.

Cool down and stretching are important components of fitness that are forgotten or skipped quite frequently.  I have made my self an amazing chill playlist to enjoy at the end of my workout to inspire me to stay those five minutes longer and work on my balance, range of motion, and relaxation.  Current favorites include The Gaslight Anthem’s “Bring It On”, Pearl Jam’s “Release”, and Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You”.

I’m pretty passionate about both wellness and music, so I’m elated that the two can go hand in hand for me.  I feel like my musical tastes are a part of me and I’m happy to share a snippet of myself in the form of musical identity with you.  Take the time to build a stellar playlist.  Keep a list in your “notes” app on your phone of songs you hear and decide you love so you can download and add it later.  Something that makes you want to dance, sing and have a great time.  It’ll brighten up your day, kick up the intensity in your workout, and leave you feeling refreshed and in a better mood walking out of the gym.

Shake it Off!

Announcing 2013 YMCA Peace Medals Recipients

On Thursday, November 21 2013, our inspiring group of YMCA Peace Medal nominees were honoured at this year’s YMCA Peace Medal awards.  And the 2013 Peace Medal recipients are…

Community Youth – Sheliza Kassam

At age 16, Sheliza has organized international fundraisers, started her own organization, and travelled across the country inspiring others with her story.

Instead of asking for presents or a party, Sheliza celebrates her birthday by giving back to the community. Last January, Sheliza started her organization, Children’s Birthday Miracles, which provides monthly birthday parties to children living at Inn from the Cold, as well as orphans living at the Mother Theresa home in Tanzania.

Sheliza’s strives to inspire others through the work she is doing.


Community Individual – Dakota Eagle Woman

Dakota Eagle Woman works with the Youth Correctional Services and the Calgary Remand Centre. She is also an involved Elder with the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary and hosts healing circles at Berkana House.  She is an essential resource amongst all of these organizations as she offers counsel and traditional advice to Aboriginal Youth and Adults in the justice system.

Her kindness, knowledge and healing abilities are an invaluable asset that she uses to help people in the Aboriginal community meet their physical, mental, spiritual and emotional needs.

Dakota’s healing spirit and loving attitude is reflected throughout her work with the justice system.


Community Group – The Big Give Project

Adam Woodward and Dave Wilder from The Big Give

What started off as an initiative to raise money for a High School basketball team, has turned into an incredible fundraising initiative, providing opportunities for under-privileged athletes across several communities in Calgary.

The goal of The Big Give Project is to allow every student-athlete in the City of Calgary to have an equal opportunity to pursue excellence in the classroom and the sport of their choosing.

Since 2011, The Big Give Project has donated to community programs, schools and youth in need. Funds were raised to purchase uniforms, sporting equipment and training gear. The founders, Adam Woodward and Dave Wilder, have personally coached high school basketball teams and have given youth the opportunity to succeed in their dreams.


International Youth – Meiting Lai

Meiting has demonstrated exceptional peer leadership skills. Her passion for human rights and her desire to make a difference has inspired her to lead the Amnesty International Club at her school.

Meiting believes that we can all make a difference in the world, no matter where you live or how old you may be.  Last year, Meiting led her club through the successful Write for Rights campaign, an initiative of Amnesty international.

In her role as a leader, Meiting has supported and empowered her peers to explore different peace building initiatives and to act on a cause that is important to them. She is an inspiration to those around her!

Meiting’s dedication and commitment to global equality has seen the Amnesty International Club expand 3-fold under her leadership and explore new ways of engaging with the community.  Meiting exemplies the values of a global citizen acting locally!


International Individual – Tricia Elgersma

Tricia’s approach to peace building is the result of a life-long desire to give each person an opportunity to be heard equally, especially in times of conflict.  Her passion for listening to the stories of others, led her to volunteer in Israel and Palestine where she learned how complicated concepts of peace and conflict are within a community.

In 2012, Tricia volunteered in Jordan at a school for low vision or blind students.  This school allows marginalized children to feel important and valued in a community where they are often neglected.  Tricia believes that everyone has the capacity to express themselves, regardless of their physical abilities.  She led her students through visual means of communication and self-expression, which empowered them to gain confidence in themselves.

While Tricia continues to be passionate about inclusive communities in areas of conflict, Tricia says, “There is a vibrant, strong and wonderful community in Calgary.  I really believe that peace starts at a local level when we live in better relationship with each other.  It’s important as a culture that we take the time to know each other.  Our communities are healthier when we know our neighbors.”


International Group – Mennonite Central Committee Alberta

Abe Janzen from MCC


Mennonite Central Committee Alberta is an organization that is dedicated to relief, development and peace-making.  Founded in 1963, MCC’s peace work includes addressing injustice, promoting alternatives to violence, and working towards inclusion. Through long-lasting partnerships, MCC helps support programs in over 60 countries internationally and within Canada.

MCC’s incredible work is shown through programs such as Planting Peace, a cross-cultural training session that brings together delegates from 17 countries to help break down barriers and build communities. MCC has also begun using music as a means of peace-building with international partners in Guatemala and El Salvador.


YMCA Staff Category – Owini Dharmawardana

Owini is a YMCA Kids’ Club Program Coordinator at West Dalhousie School where she has significantly impacted her program and program participants.

Owini passionately believes in the value of building capacity in young leaders and attributes this to her own experience as a developing leader in the YMCA.

Participants in Owini’s program learn the importance of engaging with their community and working together to make their community a healthy place to be.  Owini challenges her students to practice acts of kindness on a daily basis and together they experience the joy of giving back to others in need.

Owini’s innate ability to help children feel valued, appreciated, and empowered to make a difference, has equipped many young people with the self-confidence and skills they need to be a strong leader.

Thank you Owini, for exemplifying the YMCA core values of Honest, respect, Caring, and responsibility.


Humanitarian – Karen Huggins

YMCA Calgary is proud to present the Humanitarian YMCA Peace Medal to Karen Huggins.

Karen Huggins is a member of the Consortium for Peace Studies at the University of Calgary, the Program Director for Project Ploughshares Calgary and is also a board member for the Canadian-Congolese Foundation for Children. She is passionate about peace and believes we should all strive to build a better world for all people.

Over the past two years Karen has worked tirelessly to organize the Calgary Peace Run and Walk. As a serious walker herself, she envisioned involving Calgarians in a healthy lifestyle at the same time as promoting peace at the personal, local and international levels.

A proud mother of eight, Karen is an avid supporter of peace education and believes that a culture of peace is possible.

For all her work with local peace organizations, Karen is truly a deserving recipient of this year’s Humanitarian Peace Medal. Congratulations!

Kindness Boomerang

With the submission deadline for YMCA Peace Medals nominations coming up in September, I wanted to share an amazing and very inspirational video by Life Vest Inside. Watch as the camera tracks an act of kindness as its passed from one individual to the next and manages to boomerang back to the person who set it into motion.

Nominate someone who inspires you for a YMCA Peace Medal.

Crowfoot Member of the Month

I teach an Active Older Adults resistance training class on the weight floor every Thursday and my class participants never cease to amaze me.  I chose Linda Davies to be the May Member of the Month because she is so compassionate and willing to give herself to help meet the needs of others before herself.  She is one of my class participants and she always helps an older, less mobile, gentleman who is also in the Active Older Adults.  She sacrifices her workout to help him when I am busy helping everyone else.  She is my little helper 🙂 This is just a little blurb she wrote about herself:

I have been a participant of the North/Crowfoot YMCA since the early 1980’s.  In that time I have gone from participant to member, to volunteer, staff member for 22 years and finally back to a member.  In my time at the Y I have taught Pre/post natal classes, preschool in the pool as well class and private lessons for kids, adults and special needs.  Outside of classes, I have meet wonderful people of all ages and abilities.  I cannot think of a better place to be or to workout.

Now that I am retired I am trying out the weight floor – whole new experience.  It can be just as wet for me as the pool at times.  When asked the reason why I started at the Y, it was because I didn’t need to put on makeup and dress up to sweat like some of the other clubs around my house.

Crowfoot Member Of The Month

It is with great pleasure to announce March MOM to an 86 year old athlete.  He has taught me so much and is truly an inspiration not only to me, but to the many people he has come in contact with at the YMCA. His name is Hans Daniel and this is his story:

I always like distance  liked sports; when in school I was not permitted to participate in 10 km  race because I was not yet 18 years old.  Thus I ran around our church many  times  until the 10 km  distance was reached. Together with other boys of my class  we cycled to Langenberg to learn hang gliding. This was fun but also work because the gliders had to be carried up  the hill after every start. Things improved a lot when I volunteered to join the Luftwaffe. Near Hirzenhain  a 2 km  hill permitted flights  of two hours and more. When an altitude of 1000 m, was reached we could fly along the Lahn river towards the Rhine river and return. Unfortunately  I was called up a few days later. With the Luftwaffe  any training with motor planes  stopped because of shortage of fuel.
In Canada I  joined a rowing club in Regina. We rowed in the morning and   in the evening. Our coach watched us from,  his motor boat traveling parallel  to us.  In July we travelled  to Winnipeg for a regatta comprising Chicago Toronto, Hamilton, Halifax and others.  I was rowing  in a boat with four men for the weight class of up to 150 lbs.  We had practiced a start with 1,4 half, ¾ , full. On the Red river there was room for 8 lanes. We were  in the boat at 7 :00 but had to wait until noon  for the start of the race. It was very hot and we did not get anything to eat or to drink. These were the rules. Finally we heard the starting gunshot.  A minute later  we saw all seven boats behind us We could not believe it. We rowed, rowed and rowed and  heard the yelling of the coach on the deck. I punched Al Haverty in the back, the coach came with a bottle of German wine and I finished it alone.
After suffering a fall  and sustaining a concussion 4 years ago which severely affected my balance,  I was encouraged by my family to join the YMCA for some personal training classes to focus on this area. This involved  machines which I had never seen  before and opened up a whole new world of “sports”  for  me strengthening my muscles and my precarious balance.  Later in September I thought I would benefit  from a class setting involving resistance training with peers, where  my input would be corrected and critiqued to find my optimal output. I have enjoyed the trainers, camaraderie  and the program and feel it has helped and I look forward to training every day. My hope is to regain my balance so I can ski in the winter and do some 5km running races with my grandchildren.
The Y has been a wonderful new experience for me and I enjoy the workouts and enjoy the companionship of the staff and fellow members. The staff is always very friendly and helpful.

Crowfoot Member of the Month

It is my great privilege and honor to announce February’s Crowfoot Member of the Month who is actually a full time staff member here. She is my boss, Strength and Conditioning Director, Pam Ruhland.

She had been coming into my mind for MOTM for a little while now because she has been the glue that has held our team on the weight floor together.  I have never been more blessed to have a boss like her.  Over the last year and a half that I have worked here I have seen her not only push through her own personal battles with grace and courage, but has helped all of us push through our own.  She is the mother of 6 children who are the most intelligent and sincere kids I have met, has a loving husband who she has been with through thick and thin…a lot of thick, and yet through all her trials has stayed true to herself.  She has strong moral values and is always striving for perfection and will call you (meaning me lol) out when she sees something that needs to be called out on.  She is my role model. I trust her with my struggles and secrets, I look to her as my friend with the sound advice I would get from my mother.  It’s hard to believe she is my boss because she’s so much more than that.  It’s not in every workplace where you are actually a little sad when you find out your boss won’t be in for the day.

She is always fighting for the betterment of our weight floor team and continues to challenge us in so many different ways.  She is serious about her job, her health, supports YMCA charities and truly walks the walk when it comes to health and fitness.   I really couldn’t help but give a shout out to her like this, I can’t think of anyone more deserving. She is my mama bear and I am thankful everyday that I have a boss as accepting and loving as her.

2013 Healthy Living Inspiration

“The more time you spend contemplating what you should have done… You lose valuable time planning what you can and will do.” Lil Wayne

Wondering where to find inspiration for health? Who should you ask about fitness & wellness? How do you keep going moving down the road to healthy living? The answer is one fast click away.

Follow YMCA Calgary on Facebook for:

  • Fitness tips
  • Motivational strategies & quotes
  • Healthy living advice
  • Nutritional suggestions
  • Creating a happy, healthy family
  • What’s happening at YMCA
  • Connecting & belonging
  • A little YMCA humor

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Following YMCA Calgary online provides just another way you can connect with others, build meaningful & positive relationships and become part of a like-minded healthy & supportive community.

Bogi Gyorfi 2nd Place Woman in Lake Louise – Banff Ski Race!

Saddletowne YMCA’s very own Strength and Conditioning Director, Bogi Gyorfi is the second fastest women in the Lake Louise to Banff Loppet – Cross Country Ski Race!  What an amazing accomplishment to finish 72 km in 5 hours!  Well done Bogi,  you are an inspiration to us all!

Making Fitness Fun

Looking for some ways to reenergize your workouts and bring a little fun into your time at the gym? Check out this article on the Fitbie website with 21 ideas on how to make your workout time more fun.

“Stuck. Fed up. Bored stiff. For every way we express our mind-numbing exercise frustrations, there’s a totally simple way to break past it, says exercise physiologist Amy Dixon. Make gym time fun time with these energizing tips and bust out of your workout rut.”

Read the article in full on the Fitbie website.

Shout out to a superstar at Crowfoot, Shawn Hollar!

The Crowfoot YMCA is filled with amazing members, staff members and volunteers. This is a community that comes together for things like “Adopt A Family” during the holidays and the “Strong Kids Campaign” all year round. I wanted to give a special shout out to someone who not only personifies our Core Values but by simply being in the building inspires the people around him to be better and give more of themselves. Shawn Hollar began as a member and then transitioned into a Volunteer in the Youth department and is a crowd favorite on Friday Teen Nights. Shawn has over come many medical obsitcals to be here with us and we are so thankful that he is well and lucky that he chooses to spend his time here at the Crowfoot YMCA. Thank you for being you Shawn!