LANCASTER — Kathleen Carlson calls herself an adventurous person. Her plans to go skydiving this month on her 38th birthday no doubt prove that point.
But she took on the adventure of a lifetime about five years ago when she decided to lose weight and started taking classes at the Robert K. Fox Family YMCA. She now teaches classes at the Y, along with her full-time job as a case manager for children with disabilities at the Fairfield County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
Carlson said she has lost about 150 pounds now.
“I grew up my entire life struggling with my weight, my health and issues with food,” Carlson said. “In my 20s as I continued to gain weight my health problems became more evident. I worked with doctors to try to manage my issues, but a recurring theme was the need to lose weight. I decided it was time to make a change. I started slow, monitoring my food intake, and just walking around my neighborhood.”
She later wanted to do more exercise, so she joined a Body Pump class at the Y. Carlson said that’s when her life started to change.
“When you join a class at the Y, I call it your Y family,” she said. “It becomes the people you’re looking forward to seeing and are kind of holding you accountable. The instructors help push you to go a little bit further. After I joined one class I started doing different classes and just continued on my fitness journey.”
She suggested to the Y staff that they start a Pilates class, which led to Carlson teaching the class herself. She said her classes are for anybody regardless of what their fitness goals may be.
“One of the things I always say as an instructor is we’re all on the same bus, but we all have different bus stops, and that’s OK,” Carlson said. “So if your stop is here, here or here, you do whatever works best for your body. One of the things that the Y helped me with is knowing that you can work on your health at any stage, any point. And it’s nice to have that Y family behind you cheering you on.”
She said those wanting to get into better shape can take little steps instead of going hardcore all at once.
“That is definitely how I started,” Carlson said. “I started just by walking. Then I just used the equipment. Then I just took one class. And then I took two classes. And I took three classes. You can build on it when you find what you enjoy.”
She said making small reasonable goals is one thing she would tell someone else looking to improve their health.
“Anything is enough,” Carlson said “Starting one day a week is enough. So don’t overdo it.”
Additionally, she said those coming to the Y should introduce themselves to get support from others.
Away from work, Carlson enjoys hiking with her husband, Harry.
And, of course, there is the aforementioned skydiving experience in Tennessee for her birthday with a friend.
“It’s something that I’ve always thought about doing,” Carlson said. “But with my weight it was never really an option. So now that I’m healthier and I am of the correct weight, I said that you only live once so you might as well.”