Couple kicks it up at Y for better health

in Community by

Photo above: Ken and Kelly Seremak are shown here before and after their efforts to lose weight and get healthy with the help of the YMCA. Photos provided.

Staff reports

Ken and Kelly Seremak have been members of the Wardle YMCA in Port Royal for several years, but a visit to the doctor late last year was the trigger Ken needed to really utilize their memberships and get moving at the Y. With encouragement from wife Kelly, better eating habits and the assistance of Y personal trainer Jeff Lewis, Ken has transformed his health for the better.

In a recent “My Y” story, Ken said, “Most people don’t give much attention to health and nutrition until something goes wrong or it doesn’t feel good. Just like many others, my wife Kelly and I were the same way, and had our share of health issues also. 

“Kelly has suffered with many allergies that have forced her to restrict her diet and become a pescetarian (a vegetarian who also eats fish). I have had issues with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. We both have been overweight most of our lives.”

In December 2016, Ken’s doctor told him that his diabetes was “out of control” and he recommended he start taking insulin immediately. Like most people, he became very concerned. 

After relaying the diagnosis to Kelly, she recommended that they start exercising together, modify both their diets and get healthy.

“We have been members at the YMCA for many years, but I was not a faithful attendee,” Ken said. “While we were both active people when we were younger — Kelly is now 47 and I am 55 — neither of us were consistent with our total wellness.” 

The Seremaks moved to the Beaufort area 15 years ago and are originally from Chicago. Kelly said, “I’m ‘retired’ from being a homeschool mom for our four children, two boys and two girls.” 

Ken is the area sales rep for Atlanta Dental Supply and as a couple they are active with church ministries at Calvary Baptist Church and their four children now have five boys between them, making the Seremak’s busy grandparents.

While Kelly attended various classes at the Y throughout the years including swimming, yoga and group exercise classes, even an intense kickboxing class, last summer she hurt her ankle and took to the pool for some of the classes offered there. However, she then injured her shoulder and was not able to swim any longer, so she “discovered” the kickboxing class with Jeff Lewis and really liked it.

“I was able to share my health concerns with Jeff and he offered many good recommendations, including stretches and exercises, even cryotherapy,” she said.

Lewis has been a personal trainer and group exercise instructor at the YMCA for four years. He is also a retired Marine Corps drill instruction – and that passion for motivating others shines through during his classes and in encouraging others in sustaining a healthy lifestyle.  

Ken started coming back to the Y to get healthy. He walked on the treadmill while Kelly attended the classes. By late January he started to attend the fitness classes also, especially the ones that Lewis was instructing. 

“Jeff really pushes the class so we each get the most of it,” said Ken. “His knowledge in health and nutrition, and his desire to motivate the class (‘The Family’, as Jeff would say!) has helped us so much.”

Now, after six months, Kelly and Ken have lost well over 100 pounds collectively. After re-visiting the doctor, Ken is medication free. His blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes numbers are all back in the normal range. 

“People ask us how we did it and all we can say is the old-fashioned way … through diet and exercise,” said Ken. “We are very happy we started to be more faithful to the YMCA and many people there have helped get us on the right path. I want to give a special thanks to Jeff Lewis for always taking the time to discuss issues with us and to offer encouragement along the way.”

The YMCA of Beaufort County is part of a 172-year old worldwide organization that enables the citizens of Beaufort County to develop values and behaviors that are consistent with its mission: To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all. The Wardle Family YMCA of Beaufort County was charted in 1990 and opened its doors in June 1996 in Port Royal.

Visit ymcabeaufortcounty.com.

Interested in getting back on a path to better health after a long hiatus? YMCA Wellness Director Denice Davis Fanning shares some tips to get you started:

If possible have a fitness assessment by a doctor or wellness coach.

List your goals. Are your goals realistic?

What type of exercise do you like? Make a fitness plan around what you like.

Try joining a group exercise class. You will make friends and feel encouraged to not miss the class.

Remember fitness can be really fun and it also relieves the stresses of daily life. Not to mention all of the health benefits you gain from exercise.