They Did And You Can Too!

Posted by on Apr 10, 2013 in ,

As we continue to focus on health and wellness this month, it is only fitting that we share a couple inspiring stories of everyday people that changed their lives through diet and exercise; Cheryl Pasternak, and some of the YMCA’s own instructor’s journey to a healthy lifestyle.

Cheryl after picture




Cheryl Pasternak, Lynn’s daughter, is truly on the path to attaining her goal weight with the help of the Holyoke YMCA. Cheryl, like most people, was not a fan of working out until she tried classes at the Y. About 3 years ago Cheryl and Lynn started going to Zumba classes a couple of times a week. She found out quickly that the classes are actually fun and get fast results, so she decided to try some other classes which included body sculpt and cardio hip hop. Cheryl was inspired by her Zumba instructor’s own transformation, so last May she decided to work out more and really kick it in gear. Cheryl made some good friends through the Y which includes her instructors Maggie, Jes, Juan and more. She says that they were a big part of her motivation; they are very friendly, supportive and will do anything they can to motivate you. With the help of the YMCA she was able to lose over 80 pounds and ran her first 5k Hot Chocolate Run a couple months ago. Cheryl takes classes 3-4 times a week at the Y and eats healthy. She plans to continue to stay fit and inspire others to jump start their way to healthy living.


Juan Vazquez is a Cardio Hip Hop instructor at the YMCA.  He is a fit and healthy 32 year old, but looking at him today you would be shocked to know that Juan weighed 310 pounds just two short years ago. Turning 30 made him realize that he wanted a change in his life. He lived on the third floor and couldn’t walk up the stairs. Juan says he didn’t want to die young and decided to dedicate his life to becoming healthy and in shape. He spent a year of his life nonstop working out without any help. Although this worked for Juan, he does not recommend working out alone. He says that a lot of people think they’re too big to go to the Y or it’s too hard, but changes only happen one baby step at a time. He tells his students to take it day by day and never give up.  Juan has a personal training certificate, works in the Wellness Center and teaches Cardio Hip Hop at the Y. Inspiring others to be healthy is a huge part of his life. It is never too late to change your lifestyle around!


Jesicca Andrews, a Zumba instructor at the Y, says that the YMCA also changed her life. When Jesicca was 29 years old she was asked to be the maid-of-honor in her best friend’s wedding. Although she was excited and honored, she was also nervous because she weighed 290 pounds. Jes knew there would be many photos and photos are memories that last forever and that is what motivated her to change her life. Months before the wedding, Jes cut out carbohydrates from her diet. Just by doing this she saw fast results, losing 30 pounds. The weight loss gave Jes the motivation and confidence to go to the YMCA to lose even more. She said that the classes at the Y were most effective and also her favorite. The instructors at the Y were so encouraging that Jes wanted to continue to take more classes. When Jes realized she wanted to make fitness part of her daily life, she became a certified Zumba instructor. Now she teaches Zumba at the Y and lost over 100 pounds!

These inspiring stories prove that anyone can make the changes necessary for healthy living. The YMCA will help and motivate you to reach your goal. What are you waiting for? Every day that goes by is a day lost to transforming your life!

    1 Comment

  1. Her other passion is Bellydancing. She has been involved in dance all her life, but about 10 years ago made the change to study the art form of belly dance. The reason Sheryl began teaching bellydance 5 years ago is that she believes: Bellydancing helps people express themselves, it helps increase the level of confidence inside and outside the classroom, while promoting a healthy lifestyle.

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