Health Care Initiative is the 'Gentle Push' Needed to Get in Shape
All of this business of profiles, biometric testing and accountability for health as an employee at Penn State was a wake-up call for me.
I've been working too much, eating too much, exercising too little and my body has been responding. Low energy. Difficulty sleeping. Joint pain. Low motivation. Having trouble buttoning pants that used to fit. The list goes on and on.
Faced with the prospect of someone else seeing my "numbers" I decided that it was time to make some changes. Change Number One was revamping how I eat.
I joined Weight Watchers which I found out that Penn State will pay ½ of the membership fee as a health incentive. After 3 weeks of measuring, points and eating more food than on any other diet I've ever been on, I am seeing the weight numbers go in the right direction.
Weight issues? Check. Now, what to do about exercise?
With my history of canceled gym memberships, failed work-out plans and the dusty, unused stack of "get fit at home" videos in my closet, I needed something that would add a bit more movement to this sluggish body.
Hello PYP Studio.
PYP Studio is the new yoga-pilates studio that opened last week on S. Atherton at Creekside Plaza. I've known owners Janet Egerer and Kerry Bestwick for years but have resisted taking their classes until last week. Both women are incredibly fit, gorgeous young mothers who are involved in our local community.
Frankly, the thought of dragging my over-50 body into a studio with a bunch of yoga pants wearing, 30-somethings made me anxious. "I'll get there when I lose 50 pounds" I told Janet. "It looks fun but I don't like to cry when I work out."
I could not have been more wrong.
Kerry Bestwick started the PYP Studio community in a shared space with another health club back in 2007. Kerry's fame and experience with health, wellness and life coaching sometimes gets lost in the fanfare surrounding her husband, international phenom and X Games BMX record holder Jamie Bestwick.
In fact, if you ask Jamie, his workouts with Kerry at PYP, particularly hot yoga, have made the difference in his international competition – in the heat, against younger competitors and after injuries. Kerry is a force of her own and has built an international following with her classes and videos and as a life coach. Janet Egerer jumped in as co-owner in 2012. After some time in a temporary space, PYP Studio opened its doors last week.
Like Kerry, Janet's training and experience puts her in a class of her own. Originally from State College, Janet met her husband Fred, a now retired United States Marine Corp Lieutenant Colonel, when she was living in Georgetown, after earning her degree from Penn State.
As they moved up and down the East Coast with his USMC assignments (including his deployments to Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan), Janet continued to gain experience and recognition in the fitness profession, most notably as a Semper Fit instructor with the Marines.
She is also certified as a group and personal fitness trainer through the American Council of Exercise (ACE) and is a registered yoga trainer (RYT 200). Janet and Fred have three children, including Tommy, their oldest who was born while Fred was deployed to Iraq. Daughters Heidi and "Little Thing" aka Kennedy and their 10 year old black lab Duke round out the Egerer family.
From swimming and playing field hockey at State High to working Marines through PT (physical training), Janet has had a lifelong focus on exercise and fitness. In the 7-8 years that I have known Janet, I've been impressed, if not intimidated by her enthusiasm for fitness. "When you are ready" she said "We would love to have you join the community."
I decided to give the new PYP Studio a try.
The new studio itself is really cool. Kerry and Janet, working with local Fernsler Architecture, designed the facility themselves. It is bright, open and very accessible. Unlike traditional "health clubs" where you sometimes go in and have to figure out how to navigate it yourself, Kerry and Janet and their team of instructors personally welcome their guests and help explain to the newbies how it works.
I signed up for Restorative Yoga and brought my daughter Shannon and my friend Lisa along with me. We arrived a few minutes before class and were able to watch through the windows the last few minutes of Kerry's Power of Three class. Her participants were working hard but definitely having fun. When it came time for our class, I took off my shoes, put my stuff in the cubbies outside of the yoga room and sat down on my mat.
Our instructor for the class was Jill Bailey. Jill understood that we were new to yoga and was very patient. Jill's soothing voice, her obvious experience and training in the concepts of yoga, and her clear directions provided an amazing hour. After I was able to let go of my anxiety about "Am I doing this right?" and "I'm sure I look like a contorted Buffalo in this pose" the class with Jill left me relaxed, stretched and centered which, for my personality and prior anxiety, was a nice surprise.
Feeling a little cocky, I decided to try the Sunday morning spinning class at PYP with Janet as instructor. The spinning room (designed by Jamie Bestwick) has a wall to floor picture to give one the impression that we were out for ride through the gorgeous Central PA landscape.
Aside from the fact that my old knees made it difficult for me to do the "stand up and pedal" part of the work out (and that Fred the Marine was on the bike right in front of me and didn't flinch once in the 50 minutes), the class was amazing. Janet was funny, encouraging and busy motivating each class member to do his/her best rather than compare ourselves to others.
I may not be able to sit for a few days but the message to "dig deeper" and "go that extra 10%" is a great metaphor for heading into a new week. I'll get better with practice.
The cool thing about PYP is that, unlike other health clubs or fitness programs, there is a by-the-class option. In other words, I don't have to jump full into the membership pool if my schedule doesn't permit it. Although monthly membership gives unlimited access to the yoga, pilates, TRX, spinning and other classes is the best way to experience all they offer, a newbie like me can sign up for a class here or there, depending on one's schedule. That way, I'm not paying for weeks I don't use the studio when I travel or if my schedule gets busy.
One thing, as they say, leads to another. A new health initiative focus at Penn State. A personal goal to take back my health and fend off the negatives of aging. Pretty soon, a little weight loss kicks in the "feel good" cycle and the next thing you know, I'm sweating and smiling and looking forward to my next class at PYP studio.
Hey Penn State. Thanks for the gentle push. I am moving in the right direction.