February 2017

From the Director: February is American Heart Health Month

February is American Heart Month and as a leading community-based organization committed to improving the nation’s health, the YMCA of Northwest Florida urges everyone in Pensacola, Navarre and the surrounding areas to help prevent heart disease by lowering your blood pressure. Two ways to keep the pressure off your heart are by monitoring your blood pressure and reducing sodium intake.

According  to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the nation’s number one killer, responsible for 1 in 3 deaths each year in the United States. Additionally, 32.6 percent—about 80 million adults—have high blood pressure, with less than half of them having it under control. High blood pressure is most prevalent in minority communities, and is often referred to as “The Silent Killer” because there are typically no warning signs or symptoms.

The Bear Levin Studer Family YMCA encourages heart health through our partnership with Baptist Health Care by offering Wellness Wednesday Healthy Cooking Demos.  Each Wednesday, a Baptist Health Coach will demonstrate how to make a great tasting and healthy recipe while you watch!  The series also features physicians on hand to answer your health related questions.  The funs kicks off at noon and is FREE to member and non-members alike. We ask that you register with Chris Parker because space is limited.

We are also increasing the availability of the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program – which is part of the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program. The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program helps adults at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles to help reduce their chances of developing the disease. Type 2 diabetes is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and people with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or suffer a stroke as those who do not have it.

Here in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, we will be offering the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program in the first quarter of this year. The program provides a supportive environment where participants work together in a small group to learn about eating healthier, increasing their physical activity and making other behavior changes, with the goal of reducing body weight by 7 percent in order to reduce their risk for developing diabetes. A trained lifestyle coach leads the program over a 12-month period beginning with 16 weekly sessions followed by bi-weekly, then monthly maintenance sessions. Increased physical activity and moderate weight loss not only reduce diabetes risk, but also have an impact on lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.

Besides monitoring your blood pressure, reducing sodium intake is a great way to keep your heart healthy. Per the American Heart Association, too much sodium in your system puts an extra burden on your heart and blood vessels. In some people, this may lead to or raise high blood pressure. Everyone, including kids, should reduce their sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day (about 1 teaspoon of salt). Having less sodium in your diet may help you lower or avoid high blood pressure.

   The Y offers the following tips from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help reduce sodium in your diet. 

  1. Think fresh: Most of the sodium Americans eat is found in processed foods. Eat highly processed foods less often and in smaller portions—especially cheesy foods, such as pizza; cured meats, such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and deli/luncheon meats; and ready-to-eat foods, like canned chili, ravioli and soups. Fresh foods are generally lower in sodium.
  2. Enjoy home-prepared foods: Cook more often at home—where you are in control of what’s in your food. Preparing your own foods allows you to limit the amount of salt in them.
  3. Fill up on veggies and fruits—they are naturally low in sodium: Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit, fresh or frozen. Eat a vegetable or fruit at every meal.
  4. Adjust your taste budsCut back on salt little by little—and pay attention to the natural tastes of various foods. Your taste for salt will lessen over time. Additionally, keep salt off the kitchen counter and the dinner table and substitute spices, herbs, garlic, vinegar or lemon juice to season foods.
  5. Boost your potassium intake: Choose foods with potassium, which may help to lower your blood pressure. Potassium is found in vegetables and fruits, such as potatoes, beet greens, tomato juice and sauce, sweet potatoes, beans (white, lima, kidney), and bananas. Other sources of potassium include yogurt, clams, halibut, orange juice and milk.

 At the Y, our goal is to build a community of diverse individuals who support each other in meeting health and well-being goals. 

From our friends at Y-USA and Chris Parker, Wellness Director, Bear Levin Studer YMCA

Member Spotlight: Ludgina Dieujuste

Ludgina Dieujuste    Ludgina Dieujuste has been a long time Y member. Growing up slightly overweight and then adding the “freshmen pounds” throughout her first year of college, Ludgina realized she needed to do something about it. During summer break following her freshmen year, Ludgina’s father persuaded her to start walking with him. That was just the beginning. Soon she was running, and then she was hooked. Ludgina has been an avid runner ever since.

          Fast forward a few years. She is now a military spouse moving from place to place, a mother of three who works and has many other commitments. She finds fitness and running give her the energy to meet her life challenges.

          While on many of her runs, she found herself thinking of ways she could share her passion for good health while serving her community and God. It was after some thought that “I EMBODY” and the “I EMBODY ALL THINGS GREAT 5K” were born.

          Ludgina hopes I EMBODY will be an organization that will inspire others to find additional strength, positivity and compassion while serving our communities.  

          The first of the I EMBODY 5Ks will be held April 1 at 8 am on Navarre Beach. The run will raise money to help feed hungry children and assist families in our community. All proceeds will support the Weekend Food Program of Navarre, Loaves & Fishes, Soup Kitchen of Pensacola, and Navarre Pregnancy Resource Center.

          Ludgina shares, “I am so happy to be fulfilling my purpose by helping to raise money to feed my current community through my passion for running. The energy, strength and positivity that I have to keep going during my runsLudgina run 2 is definitely from God. Planning an event like this is not easy, but He gives me the strength to keep pressing on each day! Happy to be doing His work on this Earth.”

          Ludgina is still looking for additional sponsors for the event. “We cannot raise this money without the help of our community," she said.

          Ludgina is a tremendous supporter of the Y, her community and her church. We are so fortunate to know her and support her efforts. Please contact her if you would like to run, walk or crawl for a good cause or have other ideas for supporting her efforts.


Ludgina Dieujuste - Founder 
I Embody All Things Great 5Ks...Moving For A Purpose

By Michael Ledger
Director, Betty J. Pullam Branch


Program Corner: Bear Levin Studer YMCA Master’s Swim Club

Master’s Swim Club is a new program offered at the Switzer Aquatics Center at the Bear Levin Studer Branch. This club is for swimmers who are seeking to increase their swimming ability in two focused ways: endurance and stroke technique. The club is designed for intermediate to advanced swimmers who already have some swimming ability and are at least familiar with competitive swim strokes. A swimmer who is looking for a structured workout is also an ideal candidate for this club. In short, Master’s Swim Club is both swim lessons for a swimmer who wants to improve and personal training for the swimmer who wants a coach to encourage them in their swim training for fitness and endurance. Skilled swimmers who enjoy a group class environment but also want to swim laps will appreciate the experience of the Master’s Swim Club.

As Master Swim Coach, Sarah Roberson brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. A long time swimmer herself, Sarah began swimming at a young age and attended the University of Tennessee on a swim scholarship. Sarah has also taught swim lessons to children and adults for many years and assisted in coaching a summer league swim team. She swam Master’s for eight years and is a four-time National Champion and All American. Additionally Sarah is a YMCA certified instructor.

Sarah coaches master swimmers based on their personal fitness and training goals and provides a positive group experience in the pool.

Goals of current Master Swimmers include:

“Get in shape and get my form back”; “Improve strokes with better technique”; “Swim faster and be more efficient in my strokes”; “Train for Iron Man 2020 and clean up my strokes and have fun!”

Sarah coaches swimmers to achieve these goals by providing workout drills that improve conditioning and strokes with expert techniques and instruction. As swimmers improve through better technique, injuries are reduced and they become a better swimmer and build endurance and confidence.

master swimmermaster swimmer

This club meets at the Bear Levin Studer Family YMCA Monday/Wednesday/Friday from 5:30-6:30am. The cost for the coaching is $40/month for Y members and $80/month for community participants


Exercising Together: Senior Fit

Regular physical activity is important for everyone at any stage of life. However, it carries more significance for the older adult population. According to the CDC, only a moderate amount of physical activity is needed to achieve numerous health benefits. Some of these include reduced blood pressure, helping to maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints, and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The Bear Levin Studer YMCA offers a number of options for older adults to achieve optimal health. One such option is our Senior Fit classes. Meeting Monday-Friday at 10:40 am in the Greenhut Multipurpose Room, participants will get 60 minutes ofsenior fit class moderately intense of exercise at their pace and fitness level. They will also have the option to use a chair for part or all of the class. Each class focuses on a different format, which include Strength, Yoga, Cardio and Balance throughout the week. Check our latest group fitness schedule here to see which format takes place on a particular day. If you need to move a little more and want to make some new friends, come join us!  

By Chris Parker
Wellness Director, Bear Levin Studer Branch

 Health Focus: Portabello Market is Open inside the Bear Levin Studer YMCA!

Come check out Portabello at the Y and you will find fresh, delicious food you can eat at the Y or take along to your office or next stop in your day. Each day Leslie stocks the market with freshly made breakfast sandwiches and an array of lunch sandwiches and salads such as Honey Walnut Chicken Salad Sandwich, Turkey Provolone Wrap, Curry Chicken Salad, Balsamic Chicken Salad, Grilled Veggie Sandwich and many others. The market also offers packaged snacks like hummus and nuts and cheese along with muffins, bagels, whole fruit and energy drinks.Portabello 2

Portabello is here to serve the Y, so if there is something you would like to see, make a suggestion! Based on member feedback, Leslie is currently working toward providing some type of smoothies.

Another great benefit of the Portabello Market is they carry personal items as well as great food! Forgot your towel, shampoo, shower gel or bath soap? Portabello can help.

Stop by the Portabello Market the next time you check in at the Y. You will love what you find there!


Market Hours:

Monday- Thursday 6:30am-1:30pm and 4:30pm -6:30pm

Friday- 6:30am 1:30pm




Staff Spotlight: Tammy McKinney

Tammy McKinney

is your role at the Y?
Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor

What do you enjoy most about being on staff at the Y?Helping others reach their health and fitness goals, as well as talking to members every day!

What is your Favorite Sports Team?Cleveland Cavaliers

What tip would you give members trying to achieve a healthy lifestyle?Don’t think of it as a diet, but as a lifestyle change! 



Customerville Survey Winner-Ludgina Dieujuste, Betty J. Pullum Branch

Ludgina Dieujuste Twice a year, we randomly select a name from all the participants who completed member surveys during the previous six-month period. The winner for the period of July-December 2016 is Ludgina Dieujuste! Ludgina is a member at the Betty J. Pullum Branch in Navarre, Florida. As our winner, Ludgina has won a $300 gift card to the store of her choice.

Congratulations Ludgina, and thank you for taking our survey!

Make sure you take the time to complete a survey. You could be our next winner!






Living the Y Example Winner-Hannah Quick,  Pullum Branch

We encourage all staff to engage with our members and provide excellent customer service. Each quarter throughout the calendar year, we tally the names of employees who are mentioned positively in our member surveys and recognize the staff member with the most mentions. Hannah QuickThe winner of the last quarter of 2016 is Hannah Quick, the Child Care Site Coordinator at the Pullum Branch.

Congratulations Hannah, and good job living the Y example!