AnnMarie and her Vera daughter
AnnMarie and her daughter Vera
Donelson Y member AnnMarie enjoys her time at the center, as does her daughter, Vera.

AnnMarie lost more than 100 pounds. Now, she inspires others in her water classes.

AnnMarie first joined the Donelson-Hermitage Family YMCA when her daughter, Vera, was six months old. “I didn't have any family close by and I was really overweight and depressed and I needed an outlet.”

Since joining two years ago, she’s lost more than 100 pounds. AnnMarie credits her success to Y-Play and group exercise classes.

Group Exercise: Catching “The Bug”

AnnMarie admits she was timid when she tried her first group fitness class. She didn’t make it to the finish of that Boot Camp class at the Donelson Y. But she keeps coming back. She fell in love with Cardio Kickboxing, Boot Camp and BODYPUMP.

"I’m firm believer in (group exercise) because I had no idea what to do out on the Wellness Floor," she says, "and I needed that guidance. We are all in it together, and there is camaraderie. It was an empowering feeling. I got the bug.”

From Participant to Instructor

AnnMarie teaches aqua fitness
AnnMarie teaches a water aerobics class at the Y, one of several she leads at the Donelson Y.

Less than a year after taking her first class, AnnMarie approached Cheri, Donelson group exercise coordinator, about becoming an instructor.

“She is hardworking and gets the most she can get out of a class,” Cheri says.

After completing her certification, AnnMarie took the only opportunity available at the time—water classes. She shadowed Jean, a seasoned water cardio instructor, and eventually took over H2O Cardio on Monday nights.

“AnnMarie is passionate about her fitness journey and is ready to be a light to others on their fitness journey. I am so fortunate to cross paths with her,” Cherie says.

This fall, we offer Cardio Kickboxing with AnnMarie on Fridays at 5 p.m.

It Takes a Village

AnnMarie also works part-time in Y-Play. Without Y-Play, she might not be where she is today.

AnnMarie and Y-Play staff
AnnMarie, left, describes the Y-Play staff at the Donelson Y as "my village."

“The women in Y-Play are my village," AnnMarie says. "If I didn't have those women and a safe place to put my daughter for an hour, I don't know how far I would've gotten.”

AnnMarie’s transformation has meant so much to her family. “It saved my life. It’s helped me become a functional, healthy adult and mom.”

Words of Wisdom

AnnMarie encourages others to start small. “Take one day at a time. Make one healthy choice after the next. You can't do it all in a day.”

She adds that she also prepares most of the food she eats at home and involves Vera and her husband Jonathan in the process.