Member Profile: Mark McGaffic


IMG951430Determined to lose weight, Mark McGaffic tried it all. Exercise. Trendy diets. Weight loss programs. You name it. Mark simply wasn’t seeing any results. That is, until he signed up for Nutrition for All and the Get Fit Challenge at the C.W. Avery Family YMCA. Because of these weekly classes, Mark has undergone a complete transformation. In 2014, not only has Mark lost 60 pounds, he’s also completed a triathlon—a feat he could’ve never possibly imagined.

“It’s been phenomenal. I’ve loved the journey,” he said, while sitting in the lobby of the Avery Y. With a slight grin on his face, Mark paused and added, “Shirts I bought that I was disgusted buying, I’ve now given to Goodwill.”

Mark’s transformation began in January when he started Nutrition for All, a 12-week class that helps members eat right and stay healthy. He took on a paleo diet, kept food journals and completed weekly weigh-ins. With the support of instructor Julie Miller and his peers, he cut 30 pounds.

By springtime, Mark’s momentum hadn’t let up. He began the Get Fit Challenge, continued the paleo diet and started prepping for his first triathlon. By this point, Mark had shed upwards of 50 pounds. In August, Mark’s hard work paid off when he completed the Naperville Sprint Triathlon.

“I’d have to say, I’ve never experienced anything like it,” he said. “The triathlon itself. The training. Working with Julie Miller and the group. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.”

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What is Nia?

“What is Nia?”—That’s the million-dollar question, says licensed Nia instructor Kendra Dicker-Deutsch. Is it a dance class? A martial arts program? Well, according to Kendra, it’s both. In fact, Nia even draws inspiration from yoga. Nia, which is now offered at the C.W. Avery Family YMCA, is perfect for those looking for a change of pace, but still want to focus on cardio, strength and meditation. Learn all about Nia in our Q&A with Kendra below:

How would you describe Nia to someone who has never heard of it?
Nia is a fusion-based fitness class that combines the fun of dancing and expression, the power and intensity of martial arts and the meditative feeling of yoga.

To what ages would you recommend this program?
I think it’s great for any age. I found it in my late 20’s. Nia is perfect for anyone who is looking for a cardio workout that is fun, gentle and healing for the joints.

What kind of movements do you do?
We have so many routines that have their own flavor and feature their own style of music. Nia is based in seven cycles. We work to get your body moving as to how it was designed, usually focusing on a body part or a sound.

What else should be our readers know about Nia?
It’s a time to connect with yourself. Nia blends so many things into one class—cardio, meditation and strengthening. Each hour hosts a variety of expressive movements. We don’t simply jump into high intensity. We take time to warm up the joints so that the body is ready to go and ready to move.

Member Spotlight: Angela Townsend

YMCA member Angela Townsend has made quite a transition since she began coming to the Y, and she has seen amazing results. Below, she describes her past, talks about Y staff, and tells us why she hasn’t weighed herself in more than six months!

My story is simple and not too different from others. I never thought about my weight/figure during my younger years. I always ate whatever I wanted and I didn’t think twice about it. Sweets were my weakness and still are. I don’t know what it was that forced me to get off the couch, but thanks to a good friend, Marenda Eison, who put me in check, I’m looking and feeling the best I have in years.

Thanks to the C.W. Avery Family YMCA’s awesome staff and classes, it’s been “easy” to get fit. Kristen Derengowski has been my teacher and whipping me into shape. She puts us through the wringer, but makes it fun at the same time. It’s great to change it up to target different parts of the body, so I’ve tried to take advantage and get into whatever classes I’m available for.

I’ve also slowly modified my eating habits. I’ve gone from candy bar snacks and ice cream EVERY night, to kale smoothies, double servings of veggies and significantly less sugar. I say “forget the scale”—I haven’t weighed myself since October 2013. Be proud of yourself and be satisfied when you start to see and feel a difference—even if you haven’t reached your ultimate goal. Enjoy the view while you’re on your road to greatness!

Healthy Kids Day 2014

2014-06-27_AOF_15731_RGBThis Saturday, all branches of the Greater Joliet Area YMCA will celebrate Healthy Kids Day with free community open houses and health and wellness expos. In honor of Healthy Kids Day, the Y has put together an easy-to-follow list to help families develop healthy habits.

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Member Profile: Diana Hernandez

dianaJuggling Act

If you need some advice in time management, turn to Y member Diana Hernandez. In just under a year, Diana managed to lose 50 pounds while juggling time as a nursing student, working part-time and raising her daughter, Gisselle.

Since last February, the C.W. Avery Family YMCA has served as a home away from home for Diana, where she spends six, if not seven, days a week. Although she admits it’s tough, Diana plans to stay committed to her new and improved lifestyle. Diana says she came to the Y with a goal of losing 80 pounds and she plans on reaching her mark.

In support of her goal, Diana splits her time at the Y taking Zumba, Turbo Kick and Body Pump classes, among others. Her niche, however, is running. In fact, Diana, a former high school track and field athlete, was able to return to the racing world in 2013, and participate in two 5K runs: The Dream Run at Humboldt Park and the Santa Hustle, a Christmas themed run throughout the streets of Downtown Chicago.

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