For many, ringing in the new year means getting rid of old lifestyle habits. Following the bountiful holiday season, a time when channeling your healthiest self can be tough, many new diet fads and fitness regimens can seem daunting. That’s why we turned to experts at the Southdale YMCA and F45 Edina to learn about the role that fitness plays in their lives, how they work to maintain consistency and the impact that creating an encouraging community has on achieving goals.
Describing fitness as the “fountain of youth,” senior director of health and wellbeing at the YMCA of the North Jennifer Menk says working out is the key to maintaining a well-rounded lifestyle. “Moving, functionally, can help with activities of daily life and keep us independent, pain free and reduce ... stress,” she says. “It also benefits mental health while increasing stamina, endurance and flexibility.”
Growing up in an active household, Menk says she always looked forward to swimming and playing tennis several times a week at her local gym. When she wasn’t there, she was in her mother’s dance studio in her family’s basement. Now, she says her movement is sourced from her active kids and nature.
Encouraging physical fitness, Menk says it is also important to engage all elements of your body for whole-person well-being. “Physical fitness was the foundation, [but] I have found conditioning my mental and spiritual well-being to be just as important or sometimes even more so as I have evolved throughout my career and life.”
A part of what makes that balance possible is the community the YMCA has created for its members. As the backbone of its mission, the organization strives to create a place where people can grow as a whole person through mind, body and spirit. Focusing on five core values—caring, equity, honesty, respect and responsibility—the facility is home to a variety of personal and group training experiences for all levels and abilities. With a passion for helping individuals realize their potential, Menk says her career provides her with the opportunity to support personal growth and encourage others to become their best selves.
“Group exercise at the Y has inspired many communities of people who care deeply for one another,” Menk says about the fitness community. “It is not uncommon for people to share their most special and difficult moments with their Y family before anyone else. It is a beautiful thing!”
Menk’s tips for maintaining fitness goals in the new year:
What would you say to individuals to encourage consistency?
Schedule your well-being experiences as you would any other appointment, meeting or event. If you are intentional about taking time for your wellness, you have a much better chance of achieving the results you seek.
Where do you turn to for fitness and health inspiration?
Our bodies and souls are our best teachers. Checking in with how I feel inside and out is a daily practice that keeps me rooted and reaching.
What element does exercising bring beyond physical health?
Movement improves mood, clears our minds and lifts spirits. Enjoy the natural “feel good” hormones released when exercising!
7355 York Ave. S.
YMCA of the North
F45 Training Edina
Drawn to the supportive atmosphere created inside the walls of F45 Edina, training manager and head trainer Jared Etienne says the group fitness approach is what makes this gym so special. As an active athlete throughout high school and college, Etienne says he has always loved the culture that came with being on a team. “I value that aspect of working together, going through it together [and] getting better together because it is just a lot of fun,” he says.
Community, at its core, is the foundation of F45. With a goal of bringing like-minded individuals together to accomplish healthy goals, Etienne says this is the aspect that makes the space so motivating. “The need for community, being around others and doing that in a positive growth environment is intoxicating and addictive,” he says.
However, creating environments such as this starts with strong relationships. Establishing these bonds through goal setting in the onboarding meetings, Etienne can gauge when to push and support individuals throughout each workout (according to their abilities). “Seeing people discover what they can do for the first time is truly something special,” he says.
Though it is exciting to see members push new limits, Etienne warns that the latest fitness fads and new workout regimens can naturally bring levels of discomfort for some. “There are going to be things that you will do that will make you uncomfortable, but that is super important because it is in that moment where you will find the most growth, not only physically but mentally,” he says.
Stressing the importance of pushing one another to be the best that they can be, the F45 team turns to moral support to help encourage this optimal growth. For Etienne, that is his favorite part. “People have a lot going on in their lives, and I get to be that day-maker,” he says. “I get to be that bright light; I get to be that person [who] inspires them and is positive for them ... I get to make real life-changing impacts.”
5125 Edina Industrial Blvd. Unit 300
F45 Training Edina