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The Volunteer Instructors

Mimi Vu

As a non-profit organization, volunteers are an integral part of our facility. In fact, 52% of our classes are taught by volunteer instructors! 

We are thankful to these dedicated individuals that tirelessly donate their time to help make the YWCA Health + Fitness Centre a great place. 

Get to know some of these amazing volunteer instructors and check out their class(es)


How did you end up teaching at the YWCA Health + Fitness Centre?

Josh - I ended up as a YWCA personal trainer and instructor because of a back injury. WCB sent me to the Workshape program here to rehab my back. During this I was inspired by the trainers here and decided this would be a great fit for a career...and the rest is history!

Jean - I actually started teaching at the YMCA in 1980 and was the first female instructor there (they had just opened the door to women).  When that building closed in 2006 both Reesa and I moved over to the YW and we have been here ever since!  I have found that the staff and the organization, to say nothing of my fellow volunteers, to be terrific. I love it here!  

Nathalia  - I started as a fitness coach volunteer. I enjoyed showing new members around and when the opportunity came up to teach a class I thought I would give it a shot. And here we are today :)

Wendi D - I attended a one-day dance clinic in 1982 and I loved it. 

Miriam - I became a member in 1980 and fell in love with the classes/instructors and loved what the Y did for the community of women.  I took the Y instructors program shortly after becoming a member and have been teaching here since 1981.

Johanna - I moved to Vancouver for a TV gig. I really missed teaching DanceFit and the YWCA was my first Vancity class! 14 years later...I'm teaching 6+ classes a week and personal training. It's my happy place. 

June - I had been certified in 1982 and had always been active.  I started working downtown in 1985 and my girlfriend was teaching at the YW.  She said I should come and work out, I did and then I applied to teach there a couple of years later.  It's been 30 years since I started teaching at the YW.

Lisa M - The Director of Health + Fitness approached me when I was a member to ask if I would consider becoming a volunteer fitness instructor. I did, and the rest is history!

Shannen - I applied as an Aquafit instructor and was asked to sub a class right away, never looked back!

Kristi - I was introduced to Jill and Dylan by Tim Hawke, who taught my fitness instructor specialist class with CanFitPro. I had never taught before but Tim thought there might a fit with the YWCA. Jill took a chance on me!  

Cathie M - I was enjoying Aquafit classes due to various injuries making it impossible to continue with land classes.  At the time I was also considering future retirement from full-time employment. I thought volunteering to teach Aquafit would be part of that transition.


Why did you want to become an instructor?

Josh -  I became an Bootcamp instructor because I enjoy volunteering for the members at the Y, teaching new exercises and then watching the members get fit and healthy.

Allister - Exercise has a huge and healthy impact on my life so I wanted to help share that.

Jean - Really enjoy fitness and wanted to inspire others to have fun and get fit!  

Nathalia - I thought it would be a great way to put my skills in personal training to practice. I continue to instruct because of the YWCA members. They are inspiring, motivating and it is infectious.

Wendi D - I became an instructor just to see if I could do it. 

Miriam - I was a single mom coming from a very abusive relationship. Knowing that as a volunteer I would be helping to fund the Y’s many special programs was the key reason. I wanted to contribute in some way to the great community work that the Y does.  

Johanna -  It's the greatest mood booster! You get to play your favorite songs, play with like-minded people, and have fun while you EXERCISE! It's instant, constant motivation to move. 

June - I've always enjoyed movement and the joy it brought me.  I wanted others to be able to feel what I knew was a fun way to get fit.  I love the ah-ha moment when a participant gets why they're doing what they're doing.

Lisa M - I thought it would be fun and I would meet a lot of people. I also thought it would help me overcome shyness while giving back to the community. I believe in everything the YWCA stands for.

Shannen - Because I was a participant in Aquafit classes and thought I should teach if I was going to go to so many classes!

Kristi – I have always been active but found that with a busy family and career, I was trading workouts for lunch at my desk. Becoming an instructor was all about accountability. I had to show up for the workout if I was leading it! So far, the strategy seems to be working. 


Describe your class in one sentence.

Josh - My class is safe, fun, energetic, challenging and always different.

Allister - My class is a mix of cardio, strength, and mobility all in one. It's very challenging but you'll be having too much fun to notice.

Jean - Early morning aquatics-sing-along. We have fun while getting fit!!

Nathalia - All fitness level, full body workout where YOU set the intensity.

Wendi D - Energized and fun 

Miriam - Recipe for Miriam’s class - take a group of life warriors, add a dash of humour, along with a sprinkle of encouragement to do one more rep, add a cup of push-ups or hard hill climb, mix together with some high energy music then top off with a slow delicious stretch.

Johanna -  Inspired time meets integrated training...at a really sweaty, fun, thoughtful, choreographed (insert style here!) party. 

June - My classes are fun, inclusive, safe and we get results!

Lisa M - A safe, fun, kick-ass yoga class.

Shannen - An energetic power class that is fun, challenging and gets everyone pumped up!

Kristi - A challenging, efficient cardio and strength workout with retro music and a great
community of regulars (newcomers enthusiastically welcomed of course!)

Cathie M - I teach mid-morning so most of my participants are seniors and being a senior myself I use music that motivates me, and they seem to be motivated too with the familiar music of our era. 


If could only pick one song right now to teach your entire class to, what would it be and why?

Josh - Best song....Celebration! 

Allister - Poker Face by Lady Gaga because who doesn't love a good Gaga song.

Jean - Love old rock and roll as well as modern music but favourite would have to be Old Time Rock and Roll by Bob Seger. 

Nathalia - Back In Your Heart by Junior J. I really like old tunes and this is a little spin on a classic.

Wendi D - Layla by Derek & the Dominos. It’s so uplifting with Clapton’s guitar riffs. It makes me want to work harder and harder. 

Miriam - So many great songs!!! But my current fav and motivator is One Less Day (Dying Young) by Rob Thomas. This song is an anthem about life and living. Living one more day is a privilege not afforded to everyone, so do all you can with the ones you get.  This is my theme song for my Mt.Kilimanjaro hike that I am doing with my daughter in September.

I’m not afraid of getting older 
I’m one less day from dying young 
I see the light go past my shoulder 
I’m one less day from dying young

Johanna - The playlist is pretty signature to my classes so that's a tough one. How about One Kiss by Dua Lipa? I'm all about possibilities! And so is fitness. 

June - That's a toughie as music is in my bones, but if I had to pick one song that would work on repeat for a full class, it would be Don't Let Your Feet Touch Ground by Ash Koley.  This song is uplifting, has a great message and is really easy to dance to!  Standing up straight, up 10 feet tall!!

Shannen - ONLY ONE SONG?!! There are too many good songs to choose from! I love good music in my class.

Kristi - Tough question. Jessie’s Girl, American Pie and Life is a Highway are all contenders. 

Cathie M - Does Your Mother Know by Abba. I get a good response from my class when I demo the moves to this song.


Tell us one thing about yourself that others may not know.

Josh - I lived for 5 years in NS with no electricity, phone or running water from age 7-12. Pioneer good times!

Allister - I still play Pokemon Go.

Jean - In addition to volunteering and working I am also an artist working in acrylics, oils and watercolour.  

Nathalia - I have a full time job (not in fitness) and I volunteer because it makes me happy, feeds my soul!

Wendi D - I’m a bit shy when not teaching. 

Miriam - I am a professional accountant usually sprinting from the boardroom to the barre room over the lunch hour to teach a class.  Always a great stress reliever!

June - I love to knit!

Lisa M - I carried the Olympic Torch during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics torch relay (on day 99 in Brackendale, B.C.)

Shannen - I've been teaching at the YWCA for almost 15 years! 

Kristi - I was once described as a ‘T-Rex’ by a former training partner – all lower body strength and no upper body. I’ve been working to balance my strength every since!

Cathie M - I did the zip-line during the 2010 Olympics over Robson Square.

Volunteer with us!  If you're a skilled and certified fitness professional, you can make a difference in your community by volunteering as a group fitness, yoga, Pilates or aquatics instructor.  We are always looking for passionate professionals to join our team. 

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