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YMCA’s 130+ Years Of Impact: Group Fitness With Jane Anderson

Jane Anderson

PHOTO BY J. Alan Paul Photography

The YMCA has been making an impact in our community for more than 130 years. For February’s cover story, we met with individuals and families who’ve been a part of the organizations past and present to share stories and hear the reasons why they continue to support the Y.

Group Fitness With Jane Anderson

Jane Anderson worked at the Wells Fargo across the street from the Downtown YMCA. She started working out on her lunch breaks in the mid-1980s. While attending group fitness classes, she would think, “Oh, it would be so much fun to teach, but I could never uhb do that because I’m a banker.” One day, however, she was in a class where the instructor didn’t know her. The instructor approached her asking, “What club are you here from?”

Jane said, “I belong to this club.”

“You’re not an instructor?”

“No.”

“You should be.”

That was all it took.

What did the instructor training program look like?
“For the Y-certification, at that time, they brought someone in. It was a two-day training and we had to take a written exam about kinesiology and 32-count movements. It was pretty extensive. Kathy Rogers, who was an instructor at the time, was my mentor. I can remember the first time she had me do a warm-up. I forgot to warm-up half the body parts because I was so nervous.”

What classes have you taught?
“The first class I taught was Step — it was a high impact class back in the leg warmer days. I’ve taught Step, Circuit, Boot Camp, Boxing Aerobics, BODYPUMP®, BODYFLOW®, BODYVIBE®, CXWORX® and Spin. I have four Les Mills certifications and I’m teaching three of them — I’m not doing BODYVIBE®. I teach four formats — Cycle, CXWORX®, BODYPUMP®, BODYFLOW® — and teach about five classes a week. I started teaching in 1996 and I’ve never left the Y or taught anywhere else.

“When we first started Cycle, it was at the Y on Broadway. We had six bikes down in the basement. It was a dungeon. We would have maybe three people show up. It took a long time for that program to kick in. That would have been 1997. Then we were on a racquetball court and went into the big studio where we’d have to roll the bikes in and out every time. We finally got the cycling studio in 2011, which was a big deal.”

How have you seen the Y change during your time?
“I think one thing with group fitness is it’s all cyclical. What we did 10 years ago, we might not do now but in another 10 years, it’ll come back again. It’s evolving all of the time and it takes a lot of work to keep up with the latest. I love Les Mills because they send us education every three months, that way you know it’s all state-of-the-art, up-to-date and safe. All you have to do is memorize choreography. I’m hoping it keeps my brain sharp.”

Do you have any advice for people who want to get involved in teaching group fitness?
“If it’s something you’re passionate about, go for it. Step out of the comfort zone. It takes a long time to get fluent in teaching. I’ve been doing it for 20+ years and it’s like my second arm right now, really easy. I see new instructors and it’s a struggle. It takes a long time, so stick with it. A lot of people think you just stand on the stage and it’s really easy but it’s not, especially if you’re teaching a Les Mills program with all of the choreography. It’s an hour of choreography, so you put the music on and you can’t have any notes out because that’s a Les Mills no-no. You have to be on queue and prep for the next move and it’s a lot.”

Why the Y?
“I think, for me, the biggest thing is the members. They’re like family. I used to work full-time so I’d teach on my lunch hours and then early mornings. Now I’m retired from the bank, so it’s more flexible, but I still do early mornings because I have a group following that’s been with me for 20 years. It’s crazy that I’ve had some of the same people in my class for that long.

“It’s also the little things that I love. For example, a member who goes to my classes answered a social media question about what inspires you about exercise, and she tagged me and said, ‘My Body Pump instructor, Jane Anderson, because she makes working out fun and pushes me to work harder.’ I was just in awe. It’s stuff like that when you don’t feel like you’re making a difference. All it takes is just one person to make your day.”

What impact do you think the Y makes in the community?
“When I think of the YMCA, I think it’s the groundwork of the community. They are so involved in the youth and the elderly — check out their Silver Sneakers program — and they help with the scholarship programs. I feel like there are so many outreach programs that are making a difference in so many different groups of people’s lives.”

Kara Jeffers

Written by Kara Jeffers

Fargo Monthly Editor Kara Jeffers is from Garrison, North Dakota, a small town north of Bismarck, North Dakota, on Lake Sakakawea. She graduated from North Dakota State University in May 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in theatre arts. In addition to working at Spotlight Media, Jeffers also works at the Fargo-Moorhead Visitor’s Center, where she’s one of the first people (and, at times, the only person) visitors meet when they arrive in North Dakota—talk about pressure.

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