Members talk about YMCA’s impact on health and community

YMCA’s Silver Sneakers Circuit class. Photo by Scott Mulford

Lucille Inglese was diagnosed with two dislocated vertebrae and was headed for back surgery. Her husband bought her a YMCA membership and it turned out to be the best thing for her. After weeks of therapy, Inglese began taking Silver Sneakers classes for older adults at the Amsterdam Family YMCA. Soon after, she had strengthened her body core and muscles so that back surgery was no longer necessary. Inglese now volunteers several hours a month at the Amsterdam Family YMCA. Her story is only one of many posted on the bulletin boards at the facility.

“It’s not just the general public we impact, but it’s lives,” Executive Director and CEO of the Amsterdam Family YMCA Nancy Carr said. For the past five years, Carr has been in charge of the facility that moved into a former school building on 58 North Pawling Street in the village of Hagaman in March of 2003. The Amsterdam Family YMCA employs 35 people (half of whom are full time) and offers a variety of programs for all ages. With a history of over 155 years in the Amsterdam area, the stories of its positive health impact continue.

Kathi Schery’s is another shining example. Four years after a motorcycle accident nearly cost her a leg, Schery began the Silver Sneakers exercise program and credits it for helping her walk again.

“Everyone here has been so energizing,” Schery said. “[Wellness Director] Guido (Posso) has been great. I’ve seen Silver Sneakers help a lot of people. It helped me so much to be really walking again.”

Schery who had endured 11 surgeries and more recent medical procedures stepped away from her crutches and stepped forward. “I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am now without the YMCA and Silver Sneakers.” Schery now helps as a volunteer with art projects.

Silver Sneakers is only one of a variety of programs that the Amsterdam Family YMCA offers for the community. Adults can participate in healthy initiatives including MVP “Latin Moves” sponsored by MVP Healthcare, Zumba fitness, Pickleball, 3 on 3 Basketball, Handball, Tabata, Tone Your Body fitness and TRX Suspension Training and “Awesome Abs”.

Wellness Director Guido Posso has seen the numbers of participants grow since he began in 2011. “When I started there were three to five people in the Silver Sneakers classes,” Posso said. “Now the max is 40 to 45 people in a class.”

Silver Sneakers has two groups. Silver Sneakers Classic is designed to increase strength and range of movement through exercise for daily living. Weights are used and a chair is available for seated support. Silver Sneakers Circuit increases cardiovascular endurance with a standing workout. Weights are used in both routines and a medicine ball for low impact aerobic exercise. The two Silver Sneakers classes combined are offered five times a week.

“’Classic’ is more chair oriented [for] a basic range of motion,” Posso said. “For beginners it can be challenging. ‘Circuit’ is more standing and sitting. More cardiovascular. Because your moving a little bit more.”

Posso also teaches a program called Tabata which moves at a little faster pace. The Tabata program involves interval training cycles of 20 seconds at maximum intensity then 10 seconds of rest repeated eight times for four minutes. The entire process is repeated for 20 minutes. Tabata is currently offered three times a week.

“Anyone can take Tabata,” Posso said. “It’s a speed and agility program that can work for any sport. You can use it for anything.”

Tabata and Silver Sneakers are offered at no additional charge to members. The MVP “Latin Moves” class which is offered on Thursday mornings at 11am is free to the public compliments of MVP Healthcare.

“It’s like a slower Zumba class designed for seniors,” Carr said of the program described as a 12 week, fun and friendly workout anyone can do combining fast and slow Latin rhythms to tone the body and strengthen the core. The program is open to the public and all ages. “Women love it and men have tried it. Class sizes are limited though.” The YMCA’s creative programs continue to support healthy living.

YMCA members John Baccari and Pat Duncovich. Photo by Scott Mulford

“The YMCA offers us an opportunity to get in shape,” member and Silver Sneakers participant Bob Bacccari said. “I have arthritis, but by doing this it has enhanced my ability to deal with it.”

Fellow member and Silver Sneakers participant Pat Duncovich agreed with Baccarri on the importance of the programs at the YMCA. “It gives us our healthy living,” she said. “We have access to the gym and play pickleball and basketball. We stay healthier.”

Both agreed the YMCA has a sense of family. “They care here,” the two said. “They care about people and being healthy. They work with you. It’s very community friendly, family oriented environment. Here we make friends and get personal attention. The YMCA is special to us.”

The Amsterdam Family YMCA was founded as the Young Men’s Christian Association of Amsterdam and Port Jackson on June 11, 1857. Incorporated and chartered on May 23, 1888. The current YMCA building was dedicated March 30, 2003.

“The village of Hagaman has been a phenomenal partner and neighbor,” Carr said. “They welcomed us with open arms ten years ago. They know what an asset we are to the community. And we rely on community support.”

The Amsterdam Family YMCA moved to Hagaman after the building on Division Street was found to be in need of repair. The YMCA had to decide to repair the building or seek a new home. After the search for a new location in Amsterdam came up empty, a former school in Hagaman once owned by St. Stephen’s Church with over 30 acres of land was purchased which would become the current home of the Amsterdam Family YMCA.

“This was a great buy,” YMCA Board Chairman John Hassfurter said. “To have over 30 acres of land.” Hassfurter added, “They say it many times, we change lives for the better. We are family.”

Part Two of the this story will run later this week and feature youth and family programs.

Scott Mulford

Scott Mulford has been covering local sports for over 20 years. He previously wrote for the Amsterdam Star and The Free Press of the Mohawk Valley.