General Archives - South Sound YMCA

By: Brad Hankins

This month we will begin exploring the three primary fitness practices which together make the foundation of fitness.  The practices are cardio/aerobic exercise, resistance (weight) training and body movement. Body movement being any activity causing changes in direction, position and speed e.g. yoga, pickleball, dance, basketball, tai chi etc.

This month let’s examine the most familiar of the three, cardio/aerobic which has been at the forefront of modern fitness since the 70’s and early 80’s.  Who knows, you might have a dogeared copy of Jim Fixx’s book Running in the attic or still occasionally rock that hot pink headband from those VCR work outs with Jane Fonda.  Cardio has been a fitness staple, and financial success, for decades.

The two most common cardio questions I get from clients are 1) do I really have to do this and 2) how much is enough? The answers are yes, and it depends. The yes is based on years of empirical clinical evidence indicating aerobic exercise is the single best modifiable factor in the prevention of, and recovery from, cardiovascular disease and other chronic health conditions. The it depends is directly related to your current level of fitness and desired goals. Of this there is no debate, the path to physical health goes through the crucible of cardio.

If you have a chronic health condition always consult your medical provider before beginning any exercise program.

Cardio exercise is any movement which increases heart and breathing rates, and sustains those elevated rates over time.  Aerobic (the terms cardio and aerobic are interchangeable in the exercise vernacular) means the movement is sustained long enough your body begins using oxygen as one of its energy sources.  The movement can be walking, running, biking, swimming – any movement using large muscle groups.  The good news is most everyone has the equipment to begin walking for exercise, a great cardio practice.  Essentially a pair of comfortable shoes with good support, a selection of pants/shirts/jackets, and in our area a raincoat is all you need.  And a dog if you have one, dogs need cardio too.

Treadmills, exercise bikes and elliptical machines are great to help focus your aerobic activity.  Your favorite branch of the SSYMCA has a selection of cardio equipment and staff to help with machine set up and review basic walking or peddling instructions.  Then there’s swimming, which is both an aerobic and resistance exercise.  Your local Y has a pool, or pools, available for lap swims as well as instructors and classes.  With these resources available weather is not an excuse to avoid increasing heart rate and respiration.

A good initial time goal is 20 minutes of sustained movement that increases both heartrate and breathing, three times a week. However, if five or ten minutes is your beginning exercise limit, that’s great – the important thing is you have made a commitment to exercise regularly!

When a 20-minute goal is reached then begin working toward a 50-minute goal by slowly increasing exercise time 10% per week, but do not exceed a 5 minute increase at any given time.  In the beginning, exercise duration is more important than intensity.  In other words, first increase your time on the treadmill, not the incline.  When you get to 50 minutes, then experiment with incline.

Measuring exercise intensity can be done either by monitoring heart rate or breathing difficulty.  Self-heart rate monitoring can be tricky when walking outside, however most cardio equipment at the SSYMCA branches have heartrate monitors built into the safety bars.  Safe exercise heart rate ranges by age can be found at the American Health Association website:

Breathing rates are best gauged by the ability to speak in full sentences when exercising.  In other words, you do not want to exercise to the point of gasping when talking. Your exercise buddy can help monitor your breathing or simply ask yourself if someone asked me a question right now, could I answer in a full sentence?  If you find yourself unable to respond in a full sentence simply slow your exercise speed, but don’t stop exercising. Then give yourself two to three minutes at the new exercise speed and reassess your breathing.

Cardio exercise is critical to health improvement and necessary to reach new fitness levels.  However, it doesn’t have to be intimidating and can be an enjoyable practice, regardless of age.  Please let us know how we can help add a cardio exercise practice to your fitness journey.

If you have questions or would like to share your fitness journey, please email me at

Brad Hankins RN, CPT



By: Brad Hankins

For a lot of us discipline has been both our friend and nemesis for decades. We could not have successfully raised families, enjoyed lifetime relationships, or built sound finances without discipline.  However, to get us there we first used willpower, not unlike kindling to a campfire.  Longevity, with a high quality of health and life, is willpower fueled discipline, but not necessarily the willpower/discipline combination we knew when we were younger.

Later life discipline is an act of exploration and experience.  There are hobbies, sports and challenging adventures we want to experience, but never had the time.  There are places we want to visit, perhaps since childhood.  We have new things to do and see and the simple desire to explore and experience can blossom into a love of the new and unknown.  This desire to fully experience the gift of longevity is sustained by exercise induced good health, which helps us both physically and emotionally.

Woody Allan reminds us that 90 percent of life is showing up. Exercise is the same.  Only twenty percent of Americans have a gym membership, according to, while just 20 percent of that 20 percent make it to the gym at least three times per week. This means only five percent of Americans go to a gym on a beneficially regular basis. Five percent is a pretty elite group.

Many among these active five percenters have benefited greatly from discipline, willpower, and patience. Patience both with themselves and the fitness process, a formula proven to work with time. However, they first used their will power to focus inward and slowly fuel their discipline infused exercise journey.

Using willpower and discipline you may find many skills and talents—accrued over your lifetime—will reappear making life, and new experiences, once again seem limitless.

I would enjoy hearing about the success and challenges you find along your fitness journey.  Please feel free to email them, along with any questions, to me at


Brad Hankins RN, CPT



By: Brad Hankins

As I write this—at near 70 years of age—a 60-year-old man can expect to live to age 81. A 60-year-old female to 84.  That’s according to the Social Security Administration, who, I think we can be assured, keeps a close eye on these things. In contrast, the University of Washington, ever the optimists, predict we may see possible life spans of 130 years within this century.

This increase in lifespan will be driven by continuing improvements in medical diagnostics, genetic research, and pharmaceutical discoveries. However, considering the time it currently takes to see a doctor, you may be 130 before you can explore these possibilities.

A headline caught my eye last week. As older Americans, we can expect just one healthy birthday after age 65, according to The World Health Organization. On the other hand, the healthy-birthday-loving people at the Centers for Disease Control tell that same 65-year-old they can expect nearly 2 more decades of good health.

What are those of us in our 60’s, 70’s, and beyond to think of this academic and statistical conflict? The mixed messages can feel overwhelming. Should lifespan be studied? By all means. Should predictions of how long we live put limits on how we live our life? Not in the least. Regardless of age, we can live inspired lives, on our own terms.

In my own life journey, I have found several thinkers who sum this up well. Psychoanalyst Erik Erikson pits integrity against despair as two opposite poles tugging at us in later life.  Similarly, author Maria Popova believes most of us dwell in a land between cynicism and hope. Both ideas describe a wonderful space to explore life, especially when we now have the time, wisdom, and patience to do so.

As a nurse and a personal trainer at our YMCA, I work primarily with older individuals. When we train together, I find we share similar concerns and hopes about aging well. Those interactions with members inspired this column.

Each month, we will discuss different aspects of longevity. In June, we will explore how exercise not only increases life span, but more importantly, affects our quality of life. I would enjoy hearing your questions, thoughts, and experiences. Please feel free to write me at

Brad Hankins RN, CPT

By Lesli Baker

Happy Holidays! There are many Holidays this time of year!

I thought that I might share a few with you, as each of our valuable YMCA members may observe a holiday different from each other! A wonderful way to celebrate our diverse community to know and appreciate the Traditions of our neighbors.


Hanukkah, or Chanukah, is an eight-day Jewish celebration that commemorates the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem following the Maccabean Revolt. Those who took part in the re-dedication witnessed what they believed to be a miracle. Even though there was only enough oil to keep the menorah’s candles burning for a single day, the flames continued to burn for eight straight nights.

Hanukkah celebrations revolve around lighting the menorah. On each of the holiday’s eight nights, another candle is added to the menorah after sundown. The ninth candle, called the shamash (“helper”), is used to light the others. Typically, blessings are recited and traditional Hanukkah foods such as potato pancakes (latkes) and jam-filled donuts (sufganiyot) are fried in oil. Other Hanukkah customs include playing with dreidels and exchanging gifts.


The name Kwanzaa comes from the phrase “mutanda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. Each family celebrates Kwanzaa in its own way, but celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal. On each of the seven nights, families gather and a child lights one of the candles on the Kinara, then one of the seven principles, values of African culture, is discussed. An African feast, called a Karamu, is held on December 31.


In the Christian faith, Christmas is the historical celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Whether celebrated for this religious reason or solely as a cultural celebration, Christmas traditions vary around the world. Americans celebrate with Christmas trees, visits from Santa Claus, and dreams of snowy landscapes.

Other Days of interest that are observed in December are:

  • Dec 1 – World Aids Day
  • Dec 2 -International Day for the Abolition of Slavery
  • Dec 5 – International Volunteer Day
  • Dec 7 – Pearl Harbor Day of Remembrance
  • Dec 10 – International Animal Rights Day
  • Dec 13 – St. Lucia Day
  • Dec 18 – International Migrants Day
  • Dec 21 – Winter Solstice
  • Dec 21 – National Homeless Persons Remembrance Day
  • Dec 31 – World Peace Meditation Day

Join us to experience new youth programs every month!

Registration Required | $10 for members | $40 for non-members






  • In this class kids will have fun learning new art techniques. A different art medium will be taught every week in a fun and exciting way!
  • Mondays at 4:15pm @ Shelton | Ages 5-10


  • This is a fun and community building class that will help homeschooled kids get their PE credits! We will learn a variety of different group games and even a couple of sports.
  • Tuesdays at 1:30pm @ Shelton | Ages 5-14


  • Rev up your child’s creativity and engineering skills with our Lego car class! Your child will learn to build and design their own unique vehicles using Lego bricks and other materials.
  • Tuesdays at 4pm@ Shelton | Ages 5-10


  • Learn the fundamentals of Floor Hockey by learning skills and doing drills. This class will always end with a game of hockey too!
  • Tuesdays at 5pm @ Shelton | Ages 5-10


  • Tumble on in for high energy fun that teaches basic gymnastic skills in a positive, fun, yet challenging atmosphere!
  • Tuesdays at 5:15pm @ Shelton | Ages 5-10 (Intermediate)
  • Thursdays at 4:15pm @ Shelton | Ages 3-5 (Beginner)
  • Thursdays at 5:15pm @ Shelton | Ages 5-10 (Beginner)


  • In this class we will explore a new sport each week! This class is perfect for everyone whether you want to hone some skills or if you just want to expand you knowledge of different sports.
  • Wednesdays at 1pm @ Shelton | Ages 5-10


  • This class creates opportunities for kids to play, learn, and grow through gardening. We want every child to experience the unique transformation that occurs when they spend time caring for a garden.
  • Wednesdays at 4pm @ Shelton | Ages 5-10


  • Come in and enjoy making some new paintings! Some will be watercolor, some will be acrylics, all will be a blast!
  • Wednesdays at 5pm @ Shelton | Ages 5-10


  • Here we will focus on the basic skills of Basketball such as dribbling, passing, shooting, and defense. This class is great for kids who are new to the sport or those who just want a refresher on the basics.
  • Thursdays at 5:30pm @ Shelton | Ages 5-10


  • In this fun and engaging class, kids will have the opportunity to explore the exciting world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Through hands-on activities, experiments, and projects, kids will develop their critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity skills.
  • Thursdays at 6:15pm @ Shelton| Ages 5-10


  • This is a fun class that will allow young kids to learn all about art! We will work on all different art styles and techniques. All experience levels are welcome!
  • Fridays at 12pm @ Shelton | Ages 3-5


  • Unleash your child ‘s creativity and curiosity with our art and science class! Through hands-on experiments, projects and explorations, your child will learn to observe and experiment while also expressing creativity through art.
  • Fridays at 4pm @ Shelton | Ages 5-10


  • Get ready to build strength, confidence, and a healthy body with our youth weightlifting class! Our expert trainers will guide you through safe and effective weightlifting exercises that will help you develop proper technique and form. Whether you’re a beginner or have some lifting experience, we’ll challenge you to push your limits and achieve your goals.
  • Saturdays at 1pm @ Shelton| Ages 8-10


  • Bust a move is a fun class where your child will learn new dance techniques and will learn a Hip-Hop dance! This is a fun opportunity for anyone interested in dance and all experience levels are welcome!
  • Sundays at 1pm @ Shelton | Ages 5-10



Registration Required | $50 for members | $75 for non-members

Each youth camp this summer will be something new and exciting for kids to learn! They will last 2 hours a day and will go for a whole week! Check out what camps we are offering in June!


  • During the week of dance camp your child will learn several different forms of dance. Each day will highlight a different type of dance for the first hour. The second hour of each day they will learn a choregraphed dance and Friday there will be a performance put on for the parents.
  • June 19-23 from 12-2pm @ Shelton| Ages 5-10


  • During the week for survival camp your child will get many opportunities to learn different survival techniques. They will learn everything from how to make a shelter outside, some first aid, and even get to try MRE’s.
  • June 26-30 from 10am-12pm @ Shelton | Ages 5-10