Volunteer gives back to YMCA in a big way
“That sense of community is what really makes the YMCA a special place for me.”
Volunteering is a way of life for Adèle Poirier, who gave up a well paying fitness instructor job to become a volunteer at the South Park YMCA.
“Even though I got paid at the other facility, I choseto teach at the Y,” says Poirier. “There’s such a sense of community here, people come regularly to the classes and there’s a sense of unity among the members that I didn’t find anywhere else.”
Adèle had no intention of becoming a fitness instructor – it just happened. She was enjoying a fitness class in a gym one day when a member of the management team noticed that she hadpretty good form, and suggested that she teach a class. “I’m glad I did because it showed me my own potential as a leader, and I’ve carriedthat through to other parts of my life as well,” says Poirier. Plus it’s wonderful to share a passion for healthy living and fitness. It’s wonderful to, hopefully, inspire them and motivate them to do the same.”
Adèle teaches an Aqua Fit class on Thursday nightsand an Aerobic Groove class on Monday nights. “I always tell them, ‘Fake it till you make it,” she says with a smile. Good music helps, too, she says, mentioning Springsteen.” I’m motivated by music, and I find a lot of other people are too,” says Poirier. “It keeps them from looking at the clock and it keeps their heart rate up and keeps then enjoying what they’re doing at the same time.”
The YMCA gives Adèle an opportunity to express herself and share her knowledge with other people. She says, “It’s a beautiful thing, and that’s a win-win situation for me and for the people that come to my classes.”
Adèle’s motivational classes also seem to have staying power with some of the participants. “There’s a woman who comes to my Aerobic class, and she told me one day, ‘You’re the voice in my head when I’m in other classes or when I’m in the conditioning centre working out.’” You’re the voice in my head that’s reminding me to keep my shoulders down and back and my form nice and tall, to keep my abs tight.”
A good teacher, Adèle also tries to educate her class during their workout, so they know exactly what they’re doing. “A class is a really good opportunity to get an introduction to fitness, get an introduction to what it means to get your heart rate elevated to a level to improve your cardiovascular fitness,” says Poirier.
“It’s a group environment where you get to do something with other people.” Adèle even noticed that some people in her class created their own Buddy System. “They’ll help make sure that you get there on a day where you’re feeling like, ‘Oh, I don’t know if I can get to the gym today, I’m tired.”’
“There are a million different reasons why people are here and they all find something that supports them in some way, something that keeps them coming,” she says.
“So that’s special and that sense of community is what really makes the YMCA a special place for me.”