Y Stories: Amanda Marlatt's journey to become an Arriba instructor

Y Stories: Amanda Marlatt’s journey to become an Arriba instructor

This post was written by YMCA member Amanda Marlatt.

My name is Amanda Marlatt and I want to share with you my personal journey to accomplishing my goals and bettering myself.  I have to say, I couldn’t have done it without all the lovely people who work at the YMCA who supported me through my whole journey.

I was a shy kid with low self-esteem. I was bullied at school and I never felt like I fit in. I gained confidence when I entered the workforce, but my self-esteem took another hit after my first child was born.

Shortly after I turned 30, I decided I needed a change.  I made a New Year’s resolution to be less shy and to surround myself with women I could call my friends and colleagues.   I started going to the Mississauga YMCA when my son was about one-years-old, but it wasn’t until he turned three that I became a regular member. 

I started my fitness journey by simply walking on the track, since the group fitness classes seemed very intimidating. 

Walking on the track at the YMCA gave me a perfect view of the gym.  Every Sunday morning I would hear music and see people dancing in the gym and having fun. One day, I worked up the courage to join in. I placed my son in a children’s program and participated in an Arriba class, which incorporates music, dance and exercise. I loved it! Before I knew it, I was attending Arriba class every week. 

In January 2015, and with one year of Arriba classes under my belt, I learned about the YMCA’s fitness instructor training. The thought intrigued me, but could I cut it as an Arriba instructor?  Showing up on the first day of training was hard; after working in the demolition construction industry, I didn’t think I would feel comfortable learning side-by-side with dancers and fitness professionals. As the day progressed, I soon felt a lot of love coming my way — I got so many compliments on my moves, especially from lead trainer Sherry Perez. If it weren’t for Sherry’s positive energy, I may have given up that first day. At the end of the day Sherry told me to reach out to Y staff member Nazia Khan to continue my journey to becoming an instructor.

Nazia really took me under her wing.  With her guidance, I learned that there is so much more to instructing than just learning the choreography.  She told me that I could be a shy fitness instructor, and still be successful.

Over the next few weeks at the YMCA, I started making connections with staff, other volunteers and with participants.  I started forming relationships with people, learning names and swapping phone numbers.  Now, every time I walk into the YMCA, my work outs are filled with giving and receiving love. 

I subsequently lost about 7 lbs and my endurance increased, to the point where I was outlasting my male coworkers on construction sites.  I also encouraged my husband to get active, which resulted in him losing 20 lbs.  Now we are both in the bet shape we had ever been in.  

The day I became an officially certified Arriba instructor was an amazing day! I had come so far in such a short amount of time with the support of all my wonderful friends at the Y.

I highly recommend the instructor training program. It boosts your self-esteem, it makes you a healthier person and it allows you to give back to your community.  I just hope I can empower other women in the same way I was empowered here.

Thank you so much for reading my journey.

– Amanda