Victoria L.

Lakewood Family YMCA


It all started when I got sick. I had breast cancer and went through chemo and radiation. One of the side effects of my treatment was that I couldn’t sleep very well. I used to try working out after work and it never stuck, so when I found that I wasn’t sleeping, I thought I might try a morning class. I found the Y online and gave them a call to see if they offered something early.

I didn’t have any hair; I wore a turban to cover my head and I came in to try a 5:30am cardio strength class that was nicknamed Morning Madness. It was great. Right after that class, I went home and slept for two hours! I figured that eventually, I’d get sick of getting up so early to exercise, but that was seven years ago and I haven’t stopped coming. About four years ago, I saw a cycling class going on across the hall and now I do both classes Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

I think one of the things that keep me here is that I’ve made a whole group of new friends. Dozens of friends. There’s a network of people here who check in on each other and they’ll text you if you aren’t in class to see how you’re doing.

Since I’ve been coming to the Y, I sleep better. I’m more even-keeled than I was before. I definitely feel the stress of my job a lot less. That’s the thing about long-term, regular, vigorous exercise—I feel a sense of well-being that I never felt before and it’s with me all day.

You have to make a habit of it and don’t stop. Just because you don’t feel like it isn’t a good reason to not come in. Everyone in the mornings talks about how they didn’t want to get out of bed today—but everyone’s glad they came.