A legacy of friendship
“Everybody knows who you are. When you walk in the door, everyone is friendly.”
It’s people like Diana Burns who are creating a legacy at the South Park YMCA. She and her husband have been coming to the YMCA every day for the past 36 years. They come for exerciseand they come for community. “It’s like family,”says Diana. “Everybody knows who you are. When you walk in the door, everyone is friendly.”
It’s the 7 a.m. fitness classes that keep Diana androughly 20 other members connected. “That 7 a.m.class is sacred,” she says. “It really is. It’s something we look forward to. We come faithfully.”
Every day their instructor Suzanne introduces a different activity ranging from weights and cardioto swimming and stretching.
“Suzanne has been doing it for over 25 years,” Diana says of her instructor with praise. Diana credits Suzanne for keeping the class engaged day after day. “For our class, we are not interested in working out on our own. We need that person to stimulate us,” she says, adding that the secret to staying committed is finding the right activity and right time of day to exercise.
Similar to Diana, most of the people in the class are lifelong members of the YMCA. “We have one member in her 90s. She’s been coming for years too.” Diana reflects on the changes the facility has seen over the years. “When we first started coming they had a record player and records,” she recalls. “That’s how the music was. Before that, I think they even had a piano.”
There is one thing that has persisted since she started coming to the YMCA and that is community. “I could easily say that about 90 per cent of the people I know in Halifax have all generated from the Y,” she says. “That’s a lot of people.”
For Diana, the sense of wellbeing she gets from exercise is more important than getting in shape.
“I always tell people whatever fitness it is, it’s for your mental health. It’s what you get out of it mentally. That is the most important thing.”
The community the 7 a.m. class provides is a big part of her wellbeing. “I come because we’re a group. I mean the 7 a.m. class; we’ve gone through all sorts of things and we are there as family. We are there to support, to guide, to help, to listen. It’s very therapeutic.”
Diana tries to encourage people to try the YMCA. “Give it a bit of time,” she says. “People will remember you. I would love everybody in the city to come and try it. There really are some good memories that we have over the years.”