There are many paths to take when considering the road of fitness. For some, it starts with a quick jog every morning or counting calories while in line at the cafeteria. Everyone has something that works. These Goodwill of the Finger Lakes employees found success in fitness through teamwork.
Anna Rivera’s choice to start hitting the gym is a recent one.
“In November 2016, I lost two people that were very close and dear to me,” Rivera says. “I fell into emotions that I have never encountered before, and I did not like that feeling. I felt like literally running — running away from that feeling that was making me feel something new and I was not comfortable with.”
Rivera, of Goodwill's South Clinton location, looked for an activity that would help change her thoughts to positive ones. The gym was a place that allowed her to do so once or twice a week, and after a few months she found a sweet spot. She even started going with her colleagues Monique Pascucci and Kate McMaster.
“From there on, we have worked out a schedule that fits right in with our tricky lives and are now attending four nights a week,” Rivera says. “From this new course that I have chosen to take, I have learned that a small change can make a huge difference. I now have gained confidence, a place to release stress and have gained a stronger bond with my colleagues. Working out has taken me out of a funk that was causing a bit of depression and confusion.”
Rivera says she has also lost weight and feels less fatigued.
“I highly recommend for everyone to take some time, even if it’s only 30 minutes, to take a long, brisk walk, get yourself active and get your body moving,” she says.
Monique Pascucci, who also works at Goodwill's South Clinton location, says she has always wanted a weekly workout routine. But over the years, she came up with every excuse to avoid following through.
“I came to the realization I was the only person preventing me from achieving this goal,” she says.
Recently, her coworkers Rivera and McMaster started an evening workout group.
“The women I work out with are very supportive and encouraging, and when I don’t feel I have the strength to complete a set of arm power lifts, I have Anna there pushing me through those moments that I want to quit, while Kate encourages me to go five more minutes on the Arc Trainer,” Pascucci says. “I feel more empowered to try a new machine or exercise when I’m with my workout crew.”
Pascucci says the best thing about working out with her coworkers is sharing laughs.
“This makes the physical side of the workout go much faster and easier,” she says. “My advice to those who want to start a workout is to try it with a friend, or come join us.”
When it comes to fitness, Kate McMaster of the workforce development team isn’t a total stranger. In addition to trying to keep up with her two dogs, one of which has a lot of energy and needs to be walked regularly, McMaster also has fitness equipment at home.
“My trick for motivating myself on the elliptical was to pick a series that had a couple of seasons on Netflix and only allow myself to watch while on the elliptical,” she says. “It was easy to make myself go those extra few minutes if I wanted to see how a situation was resolved. But I had no real motivation or means for strength training.”
When her coworkers Rivera and Pascucci told her they were regularly attending a gym to work out, McMaster expressed interest in joining them. She had a couple years ago transitioned into a workforce development role, which is less physically demanding.
“I craved that exertion,” she says. “I had not been in a gym in years. And I was not very disciplined when I used to go.”
Once she got the hang of the machines at the gym through repetition and hard work, McMaster says she gained confidence and satisfaction. She’s even adopted better eating habits.
“Going with coworkers has been helpful in many ways, (such as) team building and strengthening bonds with coworkers, in that we are decompressing from similar or related stresses, but in a healthy way,” McMaster says. “And being able to laugh at yourself with friends makes it less intimidating to try new things, especially in a public setting. Monique, Anna and I push each other to show up after a long day.”
Two years ago, Jessica McTiernan and others started a beep baseball team to play, essentially, an adaptive baseball game for the blind. In the game, the ball beeps and the players are all blindfolded.
“I did not have an athletic background, so I was unsure if I would even like it,” McTiernan, of the contact center, says. “I joined the team because I felt like I needed to think outside the box and do something different from my usual routine.”
Over time, the team learned not only how to better play the game but also what exercises they needed to do to prepare. Eventually, they hosted the World Series, in which teams from around the world competed.
“I learned how out of shape I was and how much work I had to do to get in shape,” she says. “I needed to work on running and stretching my muscles. I realized how bad I was at exercising and that I needed to find ways to make time for it. I also learned what to eat and drink. For example, I learned just how important drinking water is, and that coffee is not good as it takes away stamina for playing.”
At the end of the first season, McTiernan felt better emotionally and physically. She had also lost 15 percent of her weight from the previous year. She kept at it and eventually joined a women’s beep baseball league. In October 2015, she also participated in a small training clinic for the women’s league.
“This year, we have been playing other teams close to us, and recently participated in a small tournament with other teams around the Northeast,” she says. “I will be participating in the (National Beep Baseball Association) World Series again this summer and plan to continue playing for a long time to come.”
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