Friday, June 19, 2009


The Recruits


Doris D. Meneses

The recruits at the YMCA Boot Camp come in all ages, sizes and from all walks of life. There are recruits in their teens and I am the old lady at 54 in our Boot Camp. There are members of all ethnicities that create quite a “melting pot.” Even with all these diversities, the recruits have bonded together and with me in ways that I would never have imagined. They are truly caring individuals who have shown me love, care and concern. They are aiding me emotionally, physically and socially along this journey.

Michelle and Rachel Santi are sisters in their 20’s. I knew their parents prior to Boot Camp but really did not know the girls. From the start, these girls have made me feel so comfortable. They keep me in stitches! Their parents should be very proud of these two as they have taken this old lady under their wings and have such a genuine goodness in them. They warn me when I am doing something wrong so that I don’t get in trouble. I threaten Michelle for being late or wearing a watch as I do not want to do extra push ups. I look forward to seeing them at camp as I know I will have a good laugh. I truly feel they care about me.

Barbie Huber, Esther Birchall and Kimberly McDaniel Gonzalez are young ladies I met at the Boot Camp and bonded with immediately. They are always there for me. Although they are much younger than me, we have body struggles in common. We applaud each other’s accomplishments. They are there for me and I consider all three girls as my friends.

Miguel Quinones is one of the few young men in Boot Camp. He is lovingly called “Cheesecake” for his visits to the Cheesecake Factory. During our Boot Camp, Miguel continually encourages me and often comes back and runs with me when he finishes his runs as I am usually bringing up the rear. Miguel’s beautiful wife and children come by and encourage and support me as well.

John Maas is my boss and, believe it or not, a good friend. John would not attend the first 10 week session of Boot Camp with me and he kept chiding me and telling me it couldn’t be that bad and he could do it because, after all, he referees soccer games. After seeing my success, John decided to give it a shot and his wife, Michele, and children Nicolas and Krystine have also joined. After the first session, John told me he had a new found respect for me and he couldn’t believe that I was participating in the Camp. It is tough. It helps to do this experience with someone you know and John and his family are great supporters.

Sally Garza is a young single girl who worked with me for a short time and is also my neighbor out in the boonies. I really did not know Sally that well but have come to know her more through the Boot Camp. Sally is one of my main cheerleaders. When I mumble that I can’t do something, Sally is there telling me, “Yes you can Doris. You can do it. Come on. Give it a try.” She makes me want to try.

Angela Compton is a young mom with two children who is married to a really nice guy. I never met Angela before but I just don’t know what I would do without her. Angela has kept me going from day one. She pushes me and yells at me to hang in there when things are tough. If she sees me slacking, she pushes me just a little further. On top of it all, she tells me “Doris, you are awesome!” or “Doris. You Rock!” and I know that her words come truly from her heart. She tells me I am an inspiration and that she constantly tells her mom about how “awesome” I am. Me? Awesome? I’ve never been awesome at anything!

These are just a few of the recruits. I don’t know all their names but they are all so supportive of the obese old lady. Boot Camp is a team effort. Everyone pitches in and it is not over until the last person is finished. Sometimes the exercises or runs are so hard that I just don’t think I can move another step or life another weight. Then I hear the sound of the other recruits cheering from a distance, “Doris. Doris. Doris!” Their voices join to encourage me to run out the last leg of the run or finish the final repetition of an exercise. My best friend, Marcie, who encouraged me to sign up for this was visiting my session one day and asked, “Why are they cheering for you?” I don’t really have an answer for that question. I don’t know who started it or why. I often wonder why these youngsters all care to take their time and effort to help me. I wondered at first if they felt sorry for me being so old and obese. I don’t believe that anymore. Why do they care? I don’t know but I thank God every day that they do. I truly could not continue this journey without them. My words cannot convey how much they mean to me and I hope somehow, I have gotten through to them that I could not do this without them.

The recruits are all different but somehow, they all seem to have more faith in me than I have in myself. The recruits are a major part in helping me to break out of the body in which I am entombed. They are teaching me that I deserve to keep fighting to get out!

I am a recruit in the YMCA Boot Camp and the other recruits care about me and maybe…just maybe….I deserve to be there?

Please look for the next article in this series to follow shortly.


Recruit Down!


Doris D. Meneses

On the morning of June 1st and I attended the 6 a.m. Boot Camp class under the direction of Oshun and Nestor. I had Oshun for the first half and went through a lot of stretching and I really felt good as I switched into Nestor’s session. One of the last suicide drills that Nestor has us do for the day was three sets of running the steps and then doing a set of 20 mountain climbers.

For those who do not know, let me describe a tortuous mountain climber. You place your hands on the floor in front of you and stretch out your feet in the back. You then rapidly bring one leg up to your chest while the other is back and then switch over to the other leg. It is like running with your hands still on the floor. One of the recruits actually commented to me how great I was doing the mountain climbers today as I was doing the full climber and not taking the easy way out. I felt like I was in a zone. I could feel that I was really making progress on my last set…..and then it happened!

Pop! I went down like an anchor on the Queen Mary. Pain shot through my right calf like fifty charlie horses grabbing and hanging on for dear life. I felt like a rubber band snapped in my leg. Pain! Tears! Oh Lord no! Memories of my leg injury years ago entered into my head. My mind screamed, “This can’t be happening to me now! Everything came to a stop in the gym. Recruit down! Oh no! It’s me!

Nestor came running over and then Oshun. They asked was it a cramp and I cried and told them I felt a pop and it is not a cramp. They worked quickly, would not let me move and immediately sent someone for ice. The doctor said their fast action kept me from further injury. They made me stay on my stomach with the ice for quite some time until they decided they would get me up. Oshun explained carefully and fully what they intended to do and what they wanted me to do. I was going to roll into a sitting position which I did as she cradled my leg. I sat up and she explained that the next move was for me to put my good foot flat on the floor and they were going to lift me up into a standing position without my bad foot touching the floor. I immediately panic and tell them that I am too heavy and there is no way they are going to be able to lift me. Oshun gives me her famous look that tells me I need to be quiet and trust her, and I do. Her calming ways overwhelm me as Nestor and Oshun lift me to a standing position with ease.

Here I am standing at the far end of the gym and I have to get to the lobby of the YMCA which is a great distance. Oshun looks at Nestor and asks can they “Queen Me.” I have no idea what “Queen Me” means but I didn’t think it was going to be good. Crown me with a good whack on the head maybe, but Queen Me? Nestor says sure and I get really worried.

Oshun explains that they plan to stand on each side of me and I will put my arms around their necks. They will then pick my thighs up and carry me in a throne like position. My mind again screams, “Hello people. I am obese! Did you forget?” I then tell them that I will just hop out on one foot but then the pain tells me otherwise. Oshun and Nestor do not consider my suggestion and immediately pick me up and begin to carry me out. I am amazed at their strength and somehow I am soon out of the gym. I told Nestor I love a young man’s arms around me but not this way! Someone ran to get a camera and pictures are taken! Oh Lordy. They finally get me to the lobby and I am seated on a chair with ice.

It is decided that I should go to Homestead Hospital to be certain of what the injury is. I really do not want to but I agree to go. My boss, John Maas, who takes the class with me pulls up his car and takes me to the hospital as my husband was out of town. I will say that he will never make a good nurse’s aid as he pushed me in the wheelchair right into the wall! I think it was on purpose! He said he was too short and couldn’t see over my head! Yeah right!

My experience at Homestead Hospital’s Emergency Room was wonderful. From the moment I arrived until my discharge, I had nothing but fantastic treatment. My nurse, Ashley Richmond, the doctor, X-ray techs, physical therapy guys and everyone were wonderful. I even got to ride the moving bed in the X-ray room. I cannot thank them enough. I left the hospital on crutches with my leg immobilized in a brace.
Diagnosis is a calf strain and it is similar to an Achilles tendon tear or rupture, but occurs higher up in the back of the leg. A sign of a calf strain is similar to that of an Achilles tendon rupture - you may think you've just been hit in the leg and hear a "pop" and there is sudden pain at the back of the leg. Yep I felt it! No fat lady mountain climbers for a while!

The next day I visited my favorite Physical Therapist, Dickie Spiroff and his Physical Therapy Assistant, Gentry Pedraza at Homestead Physical Therapy and they provided exercises to help heal as well as gave me treatment for the same. Gentry did a leg massage and I felt she was literally picking up the muscle out of my leg and squeezing as she has hands of steel. Pain…but good pain!
Each day since the injury I have exercised my leg as I am intent on getting back to Boot Camp. Last night I swam a mile and can now walk with just a slight limp so I will be back to Boot Camp on Monday to at least concentrate on upper body. I cannot give up and let my obesity take over. My mind has yet to be trained that I can do this by myself. I am truly amazed by all the people who care about me. I am a recruit in the YMCA Boot Camp and many people say I deserve to be there! Maybe I do?

Please look for the next article in this series to follow shortly.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


The trainers at the YMCA Boot Camp are wonderful. They are very diverse in their styles which help to keep the sessions interesting. They keep you guessing as to what exercise you will be doing and they know how to push you to your limits.

As I stated in a previous article, the Boot Camp is not only a physical journey but an emotional one as well. Each trainer has pushed my emotional buttons.

Mikey the Marine is tough and I think if Mikey had his way, he would love to run a Boot Camp exactly as it is done in the Marines. He pushes us hard and demands respect but yet there are moments when I can see a completely different side to him. Mikey has come up to me several times with a certain look in his eyes and told me, “Do you know how amazing you are?” I was confused by those words the first time he said them. I have never been called amazing in my life. I wanted to turn around and see if he was talking to someone behind me but…..hello….he was right here talking to me! The obese old lady! He has a look about him that really makes me believe that I have astounded him! He tells me that he sees me giving my one hundred percent and that he is amazed at what I can do. My heart tells me that those words are not just for show. Mikey the Marine actually cares about me!

Nestor the Youngster is grueling. He loves to put us through drills that keep us moving. Our movement never seems to slow down or stop with Nestor. Even at his tender young age, Nestor is intent on teaching you the correct form and making sure you understand how to do a move. I met Nestor during my second session of Boot Camp. By then I had completed one eight week session and during the orientation for the second session, Nestor leaned down and looked into my eyes and said, “Are you ready for me?” I looked at the Youngster and said, “Are you ready for me?” Nestor said in a menacing tone, “Have you heard about me?” I turned to Nestor and said, “Yeah honey, but have YOU heard about ME!” That started a great relationship. Nestor drives me and encourages me continually. “Come on Doris…you can do it.” “Come on D (the nickname he and Rico call me), don’t quit on me now. Are you going to let me beat you?” are words I constantly hear from Nestor and I usually get a high five when I complete the task. I am amazed at the relationship that this youngster and I have formed. I truly feel that he cares about me!

Rambo Rico is amazing. He gets on a roll and his brutal sessions will often go over an hour because he is on the train to an exercise high and we are in the caboose tagging along. No one complains. We just keep exercising. Rico is boisterous and loud and I actually detested him the first several weeks of Boot Camp. I just did not like him and I constantly told my best friend who got me involved in this that I did not like Rico at all. She was shocked. I don’t know what happened or what changed but suddenly, Rambo Rico became someone I truly care for, admire and respect. He constantly does little things that impress me. I have seen him act as a role model for several youth and watched him interact with the other trainers, member and employees at the YMCA. He is open and easy to talk to. I feel I can tell him anything and I do. He wants everyone to succeed and he pushes us hard. Rico has proved to me that he really cares about me!

Oshun has a way of bringing out my innermost secrets and fears. I don’t know how she does it but she forces me to confront things I do not want to confront! I attended a morning session where Oshun had us doing team races. We had to run to a set of cones and jump over them ten times. After the cones, we were to run to a folding chair that our team mate was holding, step up and down on the chair ten times and then race back to the line where our team mates were waiting. I called Oshun to the side and told her I could not do the chair. She asked if it was because of my knee and I responded no. She asked why. With tears welling up from embarrassment, I explained that I was afraid that the chair would collapse because of my weight. Again, Oshun told me I would do it. When it was my turn, she told the young man holding the chair that I was afraid of getting up on the chair and to hold it steady. She made it seem like it was because of my knee. Not my fat. She then held my hand and said, “Let’s go!” I successfully confronted my fear and finished the chair challenge.

Another morning, Oshun tells us to get jump ropes. Suddenly my mind screams, “Jump rope? I am a woman who weighs almost 300 pounds! My God woman! I have not jumped rope since elementary school some 48 years ago! There is no way I can jump rope, let alone across the gym!” I don’t know what hit me but I start tearing up. I tell Oshun that I can’t jump rope. She tells me I can and don’t worry. I wipe my tears hoping that no one else sees me. Another recruit who has taken me under her wing, Angela, saw me and asks if I’m o.k. I brush it off and tell her I am but deep down I just want to burst out in heavy sobs. I suck it up, line up and with Oshun’s encouragement, I at least complete a few jumps. This obese old lady can jump rope! Oshun seems to know my inner soul. I know for a fact that she cares about me!

The trainers are all different but somehow they all seem to know that underneath this jolly obese woman is another woman who is very embarrassed by her obesity, feels unworthy in life and is upset by her lack of mobility. This woman would love to be able to try new things but she will not because of the body in which she is entombed. That woman is fighting to get out!

I am a recruit in the YMCA Boot Camp and the trainers care about me and maybe…just maybe….I deserve to be there?

Please look for the next article in this series to follow shortly.

(Note – best wishes to David Cruz who is leaving his position as Membership and Wellness Director to go to nursing school full time.)


After attending the evening Boot Camp sessions, I had a conflict in my schedule and could not attend. That meant I had to suck it up and attend the 6 a.m. Boot Camp Session because if I miss, I know I will be in more pain than ever. I have had three children through natural childbirth, including pushing one out who was the size of a huge watermelon, but this pain would be too much!

I live west of Florida City out by the Everglades. In order to make it on time to the early morning session and work, I decided that I need to pack my bag the night before with my clothes for work as I will have to shower and dress at the Y. After all, we are talking about 6 a.m. The time before the birds are up and this will seriously cut into my beauty sleep!

First of all, it is not easy to pack the night before because I don’t know if I’ll feel fat or not so fat in the morning. Which size do I select from my multi-size closet? Will I be bloated tomorrow morning? In addition, I have to pack soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, underwear, shoes and the trowel to apply my morning make-up! Add to that my two bottles or water and I go to bed and set that alarm for 5 a.m. It is then that I start having nightmares of things I may forget and it seems like every hour I am checking the time.

The alarm rings and it is still dark outside. I have to be crazy but I get up, put on my Boot Camp outfit, grab a yogurt, granola bar, take my vitamins and grab my bag and I am out the door. I arrive at the Y about 5:40 and as you can imagine, no sunrise yet! My mind tells me that normal people are still in bed! I am abnormal. I walk in, sign in and see there are instructions written on the sheet. Bring weights. I pick up weights and head to the gym.

As this was my first time in the morning class, I was really worried as I am being taken out of my comfort zone. Who would be there? Will I know anyone? Would everyone be looking at me? Could I do the exercises that these trainers threw at me? Should I be here? Will I be the laughing stock? My “fat lady mentality” (F.L.M.) was taking over again.

Oshun Marcella has us stretch and do warm-up exercises. Now you have to know at that time of the morning, Oshun looks like she has been up for hours and is ready and raring to go. At 6:05 a.m., a few people walk in. For every person who walks in late, we are made to do 10 push-ups and then say, “Thank you….Mary or John or whatever their name is.” As we continue, several more people come in late. My body begins to hate the door of the gym. It is drilled into our heads that 5:55 a.m. is being on time. Walking in the door at 6 a.m. is late. Oh Lord, I never want to be late! Soon Oshun notices that someone has a watch on and we are made to do more push-ups and thank the person. My arms feel like jelly, we have barely begun and I am just beginning to wake up!

Our group is divided up and half go to Nestor and half to Oshun. At the ½ hour point, we will switch to the other trainer. I am with Oshun. We do all sorts of demanding exercises and my body is still rebelling with screams of pain. The recruits who have been in the class assist in telling me how she wants our hands placed on the weights and how to do the other moves correctly so that we are not all made to do extra due to my error.

Nestor then takes over our group. Nestor is the youngest of the trainers and I call him the Youngster. He teases me about that and I am grateful he doesn’t call me the “old lady.” To Nestor, I am simply “D.” Before class starts, Nestor looks like Dracula just waiting to draw blood. At this point, that would be o.k. but he really wants my entire body! Hey. That’s a good point. I can tell others that there is a young man who wants my body! Unfortunately, he wants to put it through an endurance test like no other. You can just look at Nestor and tell that he enjoys his job. He loves to do suicide drills. Run and touch this line. Run back. Squat. Get down lower! The youngster keeps us moving non-stop. Nestor keeps telling me to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth. Either my nose is too small or it is filled with too many boogies (yes...I said boogies) because I just cannot get enough air into my lungs! I really want to swear but end up with the saying, “frick and frack and frick and frack” when I am pushed to my limit. You can use you imagination and translate that! After what seems like an eternity, class is over. Both Oshun and Nestor tell me I did a good job. Again the fat old lady wonders if I really belong here. I stagger to the showers.

After showering, I realize I forgot my hair brush. Oh great! I decide that I am getting my hair cut shorter so I don’t have to worry about blow drying my hair before work! My new Boot Camp Doo!

Walking out of the Y at 7:30 a.m. when everyone else is just starting their day feels amazing. I feel refreshed. Maybe the shower woke me up. Suddenly I feel like I had accomplished a lot and my body feels full of energy. It is a natural high and starts the day off on the right foot. I will go again to the morning class.

I am a recruit in the YMCA Boot Camp and maybe…just maybe….I deserve to be there?

Please look for the next article in this series to follow shortly.


Every Boot Camper Deserves a Day of Pampering!

For Mother’s Day, I asked my daughter, Debi, to attend a workshop with me on the Saturday before Mother’s Day at the YMCA. It was a special Mother/Daughter workshop put on by Oshun Marcella, one of the trainers in the Boot Camp. My daughter told me to also sign up my niece as she wanted to attend with us. I thought that was a little weird as my niece is so busy but hey, I know I’m her favorite Tia (Aunt)! I signed up that Wednesday and we were set.

That Friday evening, I was sitting watching TV with my husband and to my surprise, my daughter, Jessie, walked in the house. Jessie just got married last month and lives in Tampa. I was so thrilled that she came to visit for Mother’s Day. Little did I know that this was planned by my family and Jessie would be attending the workshop with us, and my niece was just an excuse!

Jessie heard me telling my husband that I needed new sneakers for Boot Camp as my old ones were already worn out. She decided to get on the internet as she told me that I needed to go to a store where I would run on a treadmill while they video you and decide what shoe you need, “gait analysis”, a new term for the old lady. She found a store in Miami and decided we would go there Saturday and that would be my Mother’s Day gift.

Saturday morning arrived and we went to the YMCA and spent the morning learning about more natural ways to beautify ourselves naturally. Waxing, massage, natural oils and healthy food were some of the things discussed and we left with our stomachs full and a goodie bag. I have attended several of Oshun’s workshops and it is a shame that more people aren’t aware of her workshops and how great they are. She also puts on a Healthy Eating Workshop and a Healthy Snacking Workshop. In fact, there is a Healthy Snacking Workshop on Saturday, May 23rd at 9:00 a.m. at the YMCA and I believe that anyone can attend it for $5.00. It will be the best $5.00 you spend! Guaranteed!

After the workshop, the girls and I headed up to a store called Runner’s High. Now at that point, I began to get that “fat lady feeling” in my gut and secretly start to panic. They are taking me to a store for athletes. I told my daughter, “Hello…have you looked at your mother lately? I’m no athlete.” Jessie and Debi assured me that this is where I had to go.

As we walked into the store, I saw the dreaded treadmill right at the front door. Oh great. Panic sets in as I realize that I’ll be on display in the window. That will certainly stop some traffic! As I looked around, there were about 8 people already in the store. Of course, my brain was instantly using its FLSC (Fat Lady Scanning Capability) and realized that no one in that store had an ounce of fat on them as they all looked like they have been running for years and here I am still working on breathing and running at the same time! I was getting really nervous and wondered if everyone was looking at me and wondering what the fat lady was doing inside the runner’s store. Then I realized that they would think I was just there with my daughter who was getting shoes….she looks like a runner.

Next! The salesman, Byron Kibort, called on us. He asked how he could help us and my daughter explained that I was in a Boot Camp and needed a good pair of sneakers. I held my breath and waited for him to burst out laughing but instead he asked what kind of exercises I was doing and I explained! I have to tell you that my stomach immediately unknotted and I became very comfortable with Byron. I even flexed my muscles for him! He tried numerous pairs of shoes on me and some he decided he just didn’t like the way they fit and that was it. Although others were waiting, there was no hurry and he made me feel like I truly deserved to be there and that I was special. Once we narrowed it down, Byron put me on the treadmill in the front of the store. Even more surprising, Byron made me so comfortable that I did not even realize that I was in the front window running! After that we tried one more pair of shoes and one more trip to the treadmill, we had a winner. A few pairs of socks along with the new shoes and a thank you to Byron for making me feel comfortable and we were out the door. I will confidently visit Runner’s High again.

In closing, as I type this issue of my Boot Camp series, I have noticed a thread running through my experiences. I never feel like I deserve to be treated like a normal person. My year’s as an obese woman have clouded my thinking and made me feel unworthy. The YMCA Boot Camp experience seems to be slowly opening up my eyes to new ways of thinking. Boot Camp is not just a physical experience.

I am a recruit in the YMCA Boot Camp and maybe…just maybe….I deserve to be there?

Please look for the next article in this series to follow shortly.


I’m Still Here!

The alarm clock is ringing. I hear it but as I reach over to hit the snooze alarm I feel pain like I’ve never felt before. This is the morning after my first workout at the YMCA Boot Camp.

Why are my arms so heavy? Why do my biceps and triceps feel like they are knotted up into tight little balls? Did I have a stroke during my sleep? Should I wake my husband and tell him to get me to the hospital? I decide to try to get up and as I go from sitting to standing my thighs burn with such fire that I let out a scream of pain. I manage to make it to the bathroom and while trying to sit down on the commode, I yelp again in pain as it feels like my thighs are being stabbed with sharp serrated knives. I sit there taking stock of my situation. Eventually, I am going to have to stand up and experience the pain again. What is going on? Can all this pain be from exercising?

I wonder if I should call in sick but then I am determined that I will not be the laughing stock of my office. My boss will never let me live this down if I called in sick because of exercise. After all, he is the one who lovingly calls me the S.O.B. (The Senile Old Battleax.) of the office. Now before you write him hate mail, it is truly a term of endearment. He just likes to joke about my when truthfully, he is not that much younger than me. I decide I’ll show him and I slowly, one leg at a time, one arm at a time, get dressed for work.

Once again, getting into my truck to go to work is an experience. Every muscle in my body pulls at me and lets me know they are present. They all seem to scream simultaneously. At work, the receptionist who sits outside of my office knows when I am coming out as she can hear me groan when I get up or sit down. I hear the giggles in the office as I yelp. I take stock of the situation and realize that I hurt in some places that I never knew I had! Where did those body parts come from? I also realize that this is just another confirmation that my life has been so sedentary that my body is now revolting against me.

The following day I have to go back to Boot Camp. Several of us gather and discuss our common pain. The pain seems to bring us closer together and it helps to get to know the others so I don’t feel so out of place. As I look around, I notice a young girl, Sally, who used to work in our office. We had a good conversation and she is very supportive of my participation in Boot Camp. She told me she was proud of me for being there. Me? Why would she be proud of me? I just could not understand. Another young lady comes up to me and says, “Mrs. Meneses, do you remember me? You taught me music in CCD at Sacred Heart and I went to elementary school with your son, Danny.” I was amazed that I was now in Boot Camp with Kimberly who is my son’s age. Two young sisters who I recognize from church, Michelle and Rachel, are also there and are impressed that I am attending Boot Camp. Another young lady, Angela, speaks up and is very encouraging to all around her. I wonder just how bad I really look if I impress these girls just by attending Boot Camp!

After working all day I wonder how I will ever exercise when I hurt all over. Rambo Rico and Marine Mikey answer that question for me as they immediately line us up. Every recruit is checked to see if we have two bottles of water, no watches and our recruit shirts on. Once again we start all over with no concessions for lingering pain. I actually think they thrive on our pain! One hour to go! Hang on body. Don’t quit me now!

Mikey and Rico keep it interesting in the many different exercises we do. Leg lifts, squats, push ups, etc. Interesting, exciting yet painful. Push ups are an integral part of our Boot Camp. They are used for exercise and for punishment. How does an obese woman do a push up? She does one on her knees and, at the very least, holds her weight up in the air until the others are done. I cannot get my body up into the plane position to do a push up. My arms and legs will not hold me. I struggle to do my best but I know it is not near a true push-up. Will the day come where I can go down and up in a plane position? I don’t think so. Squats are done all different ways. We squat legs together, legs shoulder width apart, wide spread and even squats with weights. No matter what I do, my legs and arms quiver from lack of use and the muscles keep screaming to take it easy!

Once again we run and I feel like I cannot catch my breath. I cannot run more than 15 paces before I am gasping. I do a combination of speed walking and running but I somehow finish. Once again, several youngsters come back and encourage me at the end that I end up running the last part of journey. It is grueling but I am determined not to give up. As I struggle and grunt or groan, I hear the voices of the younger ones encouraging me on. I finish the task I am given and I survive the evening.

As I look around at the end of class, I am aware of several things. It is only the beginning of Boot Camp and I realize that several people have already dropped out. I am still here. It is only the beginning of Boot Camp and Rico and Mikey hug me and tell me how proud they are of me for giving it my all. I am still here. It is only the beginning of Boot Camp and I realize that there are so many supportive people want to see me succeed. They have no connection to me but yet, for some reason, they make me feel like I am worth something. They make me feel like they care. They are slowly helping me change my attitude that I can and will do this? I am still here. It is only the beginning of Boot Camp and already I realize that I already feel a little more energetic. I am still here. It is only the beginning of Boot Camp and I realize that this 54 year old obese woman signed up to be a recruit in the YMCA Boot Camp and I am still here.

Please look for the next article in this series to follow shortly.