Home Diocesan News Holy Family parishioner teaches YMCA fitness classes with a twist
Holy Family parishioner teaches YMCA fitness classes with a twist Print E-mail
Written by Karen Kastner, Special to the Exponent   
Friday, 23 March 2018 14:50

BOARDMAN – There are stereotypical top-sergeant fitness instructors who order clients to overdo, and then there is Holy Family parishioner Linda Modic.

A fitness instructor and personal trainer at the Boardman YMCA since 2005, Modic is the Pied Piper there, encouraging students to stay within their comfort zones, to enjoy themselves, to ponder their spirituality, and to smile, smile, smile.

On any given day, she packs them into the pristine activity rooms in the YMCA off Market Street. While she primarily teaches active older adults – many of whom just beam at her despite the controlled rigors of the classes – she also teaches other fitness classes, such as a “step” course, which involves moving on, over and around a low platform, and leads a walking course each summer.

YMCA Fitness Coordinator Debbie Mirone, who enthusiastically stopped by to comment, said of Modic, “She puts her heart into it. That’s what makes her so popular.”

On a Tuesday morning earlier in the year, for example, 35 women and one gentleman filled the spacious, sunny classroom for “Silver Sneakers Classic,” marching in place and exercising their arms to 1960s tunes such as “Hang On Sloopy,” “Cheer Up Sleepy Jean,” and “Downtown.” As it turned out, “Downtown,” made famous by Petula Clark, proved to be the sing-along favorite of the class members.

Some of the senior women have developed rather muscular legs, as evidenced by shapely calves showing below their yoga pants.

Class members joked with and confided in one another quite a bit before and even during class. One mature woman was overheard to advise her contemporary, “I would forego the furs and jewelry in favor of a cleaning lady.”

Modic encouraged the seniors to “Make sure your core is nice and tight,” “Do your best!” and “Pop those arms!” periodically.  She repeatedly asked her pupils where their smiles were, once scrunching her nose and admonishing, “It’s not Crabby Tuesday!” That comment produced smiles from her students.

At one point she commented from the front of the class, “I love your faces right now!”

As class concluded, Modic reminded her students that Jesus Christ had encouraged His faithful in the Gospel of John to “live abundantly” and, in turn, she said she tries to help students live more abundantly and healthily so that they can leave the Y more fit to do God’s bidding. Although God gives us many trials, she noted, these are “tests of our faith, and we must persevere.”

She asked her students, “How many times a week do you strengthen your physical body? Do you do the same for your spirit? Are you doing that work?”

Modic, a mother of five with three grandchildren and one grandchild on the way, went on, “It is important to move! Inhale faith, exhale doubt!” She encourages her students to bask in the joy of life.

In an interview before her classes, Modic, who holds an associate’s degree in applied science from Youngstown State University, as well as many specialized certifications in the fitness field, stressed that she encourages the Y members to follow their physician’s advice and precautions and to always listen to their own bodies. “If it hurts, don’t do that,” she said simply.

She encourages students to “ease” into exercise, explaining that they should be energized by it rather than overwhelmed and disheveled on the couch afterward.

Her classes stress strength, balance and coordination activities. “As we age, one of the big risk factors is falling … We don’t want to have to depend on anybody – we can live independent for the rest of our lives,” Modic stated confidently.

People with diabetes and other chronic diseases are often advised to get more exercise. When they find a physical exercise they enjoy and new friends to encourage them, they are more likely to stick with it.

Although experts recommend adults take strengthening classes two days a week and cardiovascular workouts three to five days a week, Modic, who shares an interest in fitness with her husband, Brett, said even one or two days of exercise will prove beneficial.

Continuity is often the key to better physical health. “Get away from sitting too much. This will keep your heart and lungs strong,” Modic stated.


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