WEST MORRIS AREA YMCA Makes a difference for local resident

Various programs zero in on what you can accomplish

RANDOLPH, NJ __When Joyce Van  Brunt first came through the doors of the West Morris Area YMCA in 2008, she did so, using a walker. The retired junior high nurse had been diagnosed  in 1981 with Multiple Sclerosis, an auto immune condition in which nerve damage disrupts communication between the brain and the body.

Her journey began 12 years later when she  noticed her rhythm was off and she began tripping and lost vision in her one eye, which eventually corrected itself. These physical disabilities made land activities  problematic.

“I wanted to enjoy my life doing things, the Succasunna resident recalled. “With MS you have to focus on  reclaiming your body,” she noted. “So I turned my attention to the water. Workouts in the water have less pressure and that helps movement with my hips and knees minus the pain.’

Kathy Lamia, Senior Fitness Director of the Y, concurred many incapacities are difficult to manage on land. “You must work your  way through muscle development and doing it on land can be daunting. Joyce has become a model for the desire and accomplishments of doing just that: using the many programs and facilities – tools for everyone – in Joyce’s case,  to further her progress with MS.”

MS affects the brain and spinal cord, causing a wide range of symptoms including vision, arm or leg movement and sensation or balance. Pain, fatigue, and impaired coordination accompany the condition as well, although the  symptoms, severity and duration can vary from person to person.

Joyce’s willpower and perseverance has led her to many activities. The underwater treadmills were a fantastic tool and eventually she was ready to work on her core with land- based programs.

“I never thought I could do Barre but now I love it” she  said. “The wonderful part about the programs here is that each one offers the building up of muscles and strength of many parts of the body. With me this was crucial .”

“Name a program and I get benefits.” Joyce  said. ’”I  initially feared falling. So I used the walker at the Y and a  cane at home. What you learn here you  take with you back home.”

According to Lamia, “Now she does everything!” Known as the can do woman,  Joyce enjoys  Pilates and the Barre classes. “They both work the tiny muscles which in turn help restore my balance. I learned about muscles that I never knew I had!”

She found herself trying new activities she had never thought she could do and loving them. Belly dancing and Zumba classes helped her stiff hips.

“The great thing is about whatever your health  condition the instructors will modify your routines which boosted my confidence and I told myself I CAN do this, and I did. Success breeds more success and I eagerly anticipated coming in each day to explore new activities. ’                         

The social aspect hasn’t been ignored here either. “ It’s like a family here. Members and staff alike are all so positive. There is no room for depression. You need that boost when you are struggling with a physical  condition. If you haven’t been in a while, you find that people will ask, where is she?” That’s such a wonderful feeling that people know you and are looking for you.”

 Joyce spends two hours, five days a week at the Y.  She now swims 12 laps each time in the pool, but she’s not done improving. “I’m adding the use of fins to my routine, next.  The Y has been a Godsend for me and I’m sure many other members.

The West Morris Area YMCA is for youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.

March 5th, 2024