YMCA Healthy Kids® Day

Meet Jennifer Whitton

Feeling comfortable led to healthy lifestyle

Jen Whitton joined the YMCA in 2005 to get into shape. Not a regular exerciser or a natural athlete, she was anxious about going to a gym. By her own estimation, she was overweight, and while she wanted to get into shape, she was terrified to work out in a traditional "gym" setting, regularly coaxing friends to come with her. It wasn’t until two years ago that Jen started to take getting in shape seriously. Along with a friend, she signed up for Leonard Jones’ Outdoor Boot Camp class. Thanks to the reception she received from staff like Leonard, Jen felt welcome and started taking group exercise classes and working out on her own.

Throughout the YMCA, she noticed things that were designed to help make people with little to no fitness experience more comfortable, like instructors offering modified movements and allowing participants to progress at their own pace. Between Step classes at Toby Wells YMCA, Leonard’s Boot Camp, and the Weight Loss For Life TEAM Challenge, Jen felt more comfortable and more at home at Mission Valley YMCA. "It got to the point where friends and staff would ask where I was if I skipped a day!" says Whitton. Fast forward to the present — Jen has lost 95 pounds. She’s expanded her training to the pools and just completed her first triathlon (Mission Bay Triathlon) in October. She has a message for other "health seekers" who, like her, want to get healthy but are afraid to start or don’t know how: "Just do it. Once you get over that initial fear, you realize that the people at the Y are here to help. This is not your average gym." — posted 11/22/10