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Hooray for the Y#8217; Staff 12/30/2006 Amid black lights and blaring music that would motivate Archie Bunker to do the running-man dance, Sandi Allen encourages her troops. #8220;Keep pushing.#8221;

Amid black lights and blaring music that would motivate Archie Bunker to do the running-man dance, Sandi Allen encourages her troops.

“Keep pushing.” “You can go faster.” “Come on, I know you can do better than that.”

You don’t seem to remember that it’s 5:30 a.m.

She starts the class with an easy pace, then pushes us to begin climbing hills or sprinting.

“Let’s turn up our resistance,” she says, then tells us to stand up and pedal on the bike and sit back down. Back up, back down, back up, back down. Now it’s time for sprints n faster, faster, faster.

Her conditioning amazed me. After all, wasn’t I in decent shape?

Sandi has only been in Suffolk a short time, but she has already touched many people. Just attend her spinning class and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Sandi sort of ushered me into the YMCA and invited me to her spinning class, which she claimed wasn’t that difficult.

For those who aren’t familiar with a spinning class, the average person burns more than 500 calories in a 40-minute class. However, in Sandi’s class, we surely burn twice that.

I must admit, with a marathon under my belt, I figured the class would be a piece of cake. I was wrong. By the end of the first class, my legs were weak and Jell-O like, and I had gained an appreciation for every person who woke up at 5:30 a.m. and attended Sandi’s class.

I’ve been to only three or four of her classes, but can already see the difference she makes in people’s lives. Some folks would never have exercised had they not come in contact with Sandi or the YMCA. Some folks wouldn’t have shed a pound, but they did because they had a place to go to, and because Sandi knows how to motivate people.

When we slow down, she gets us going faster. When we want to quit, she won’t let us. We all need a Sandi motivating us; heck, it’s too hard to motivate ourselves.

Many cities and regions across our country fight health issues ranging from diabetes to obesity to just plain laziness. The YMCA of South Hampton Roads in Suffolk is working hard to correct those problems in Suffolk.

Folks who battle these issues every day need somewhere to turn, somebody from whom they can seek advice and encouragement. They can always find that at our local Y.

Although I am still considered an outsider, I can tell you that there isn’t a place more diverse, genuine and enjoyable I have found thus far in Suffolk than the YMCA. From the first week here, I’ve been welcomed wholeheartedly by the staff and management. I’ve even been considered part of the crowd the few times I have played basketball there with the younger guys. Of course, their pleasantries could be a direct result of my helping their egos while they run circles around me.

In Suffolk, the Y is more than free weights and elliptical machines. It’s about personalities.

For example, every visitor who graces the entrance of the facility will get a smile that encourages one to get fit.

Every little bit helps in the effort to keep folks coming back.

Lindsey is the publisher of the News-Herald. Contact him at jesse.lindsey@suffolknewsherald.com, or call 934-9611.