I originally joined Yankee after my boyfriend (now husband) bought me a trial membership as a graduate school graduation present. At that point, he was at CrossFit gym for a couple years, and saw me struggling with motivation and boredom working out at my local YMCA.  Also, as a former college athlete, I missed the comradery of exercising with teammates, and he felt I would benefit from group classes as well. I had my eight year anniversary with Yankee this past July.

It’s hard for me to narrow down which goal to share with you, but the most significant positive change for me has been Yankee’s impact on my mental health. My timing of joining Yankee corresponded with a particularly low point in my mental health journey. I got to a point where I was medically unable to work and each day was grueling, to say the least. It was after my first WOD that I finally felt this profound sense of relief that I had been waiting for. After that, attending class at Yankee was a key part of restoring my mental health. To this day I consider exercise to be an essential part of my self-care and have difficulty getting through the week without it.

I could go on for a long time about the other ways my time at Yankee has positively influenced my life, but I’ll try to keep it short. It provides a social outlet, increases self-esteem, and allows me to practice making myself a priority. In my professional life,  lessons I have learned at Yankee have affected my ability to do my job. They have taught me tolerance for feeling uncomfortable and that I am capable of doing hard things. Additionally, I am significantly more physically fit than when I started.  I have built muscle mass, lost fat, and I’m capable of everyday tasks which others might find difficult (e.g. moving furniture, carrying heavy groceries). Family members don’t wait for my brother’s help in carrying heavy objects, they ask me.

In the past, I worked out at a YMCA. I was bored, unmotivated, and uncomfortable working out next to strangers. I was writing my own exercise plan, which meant I did the same thing over and over again with little effect. My experience at Yankee is the opposite of that. I don’t dread going to the gym and I look forward to seeing the coaches and other members. Fitness professionals write my workouts and tailor them to me. They are challenging, varied, and effective, like they should be.

The staff at Yankee have also helped me through multiple injuries including a sprained ankle and tendonitis in both of my shoulders. They’ve helped restore my body back to normal and customized workouts so I could continue to exercise during treatment. Most recently, I was able to get rid of the tendonitis in my shoulder with no outside treatment besides Yankee’s programming. I can’t imagine going back. Yes, Yankee is more expensive than the YMCA, but an investment in my physical and mental health is the best decision I could make for myself.

My goals when joining Yankee were to relieve anxiety and depression and find a fitness routine I enjoyed. If my body got more toned in the process, I wasn’t going to complain. I achieved those goals a long time ago and while smaller fitness related goals have popped up here and there, my main goal overall since then is to be consistent and maintain progress. If I happen to keep getting stronger, I won’t complain about that either.

My overall experience at Yankee has been a positive one. Besides the amazing benefits of exercise, my favorite aspect about Yankee is the people. There’s a connection made after suffering through WODs together and not doing it alone makes it so much more enjoyable. People join for all sorts of reasons, and everyone is welcome and accepted. Members receive a huge amount of support from both coaches and other members, regardless of performance or ability. I’ve been lucky enough that some of my family members have joined Yankee. My mom (Kris Kievit) joined first, followed by my Aunt Cheryl Dudzinski and most recently, my Aunt Joy Ancher. Now I get to see my mom and two aunts multiple days a week at the gym and we have something to bond over. Finally, if I haven’t mentioned it yet, Yankee’s coaches are awesome. Owners Brendan and Ashley take what they do very seriously and truly want the best for everyone. After knowing them for 8 years and seeing Brendan for class more often than I see any of my close friends, they’ve been there to support me through many life changes, and I know I can count on them to support me going forward.