Healthy Living Y Stories YMCA Health and Fitness

Gerald’s road to recovery

After a serious car crash left him feeling lucky to be alive, Gerald braved a long recovery process and got back to his lifelong passion: cycling. Today, at 88 years old, his favourite CycleFit instructor, Kim, says Gerald “can totally rock the class!” Here’s Gerald’s Y Story:

My absolute favourite way to get active is to ride my bike. Back in 1980, my friend and I even co-founded the Oshawa Cycle Club so other cycle lovers could go on group rides together. But then I had a major bicycle accident: a driver made a right turn in front of me, and I went straight into the side of his car. The crash left me with facial fragmentation and a broken neck. I received plastic surgery and over 100 stitches, wore a halo vest for 3 and a half months, and was forced to retire early on disability.

With lots of hard work and many years of physiotherapy, I was eventually able to get back on my bike. In 2010, my son-in-law also retired and told me I should join the Oshawa Y with him. He said there was a CycleFit class I could try during the winter, since I couldn’t ride my bike in the snow. That’s how I met Kim, who teaches what’s become my favourite class. Her enthusiasm and energy is totally inspirational, and I enjoy the routines so much I do her class up to 5 times a week!

It’s worked wonders for my health. When I turned 80, I rode half of the Rideau Lakes Tour — a total of 180 kilometres. And then for my 85th Birthday, I celebrated by riding 86 kilometres.

But the Y’s done so much more than keep me physically healthy. Going to these classes has allowed me to build new friendships and a sense of community, which helps me combat the feelings of loneliness and isolation that so many of us struggle with. The Y also keeps me in the strong, healthy state I need to be in in order to continue living independently in my own home, and the community I have there gives me something fun and energizing to look forward to. I’m so happy to be able to be this active at 88 years of age, but I’m also grateful for the ways my physical health has helped build up my emotional and social health.