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24 Sep 2017


By Gracie Carroll

What It Was Like To Break a Guinness World Records with the YMCA

By Gracie Carroll

It’s 5am on the morning of January 11th, 2018, and I’m laying in bed wide awake. Considering my natural habits as a night owl, it wouldn’t be uncommon for me to be heading to bed at this hour of the morning, but, today I’m getting up to head to the gym bright and early.

This isn’t your average (extremely) early gym visit however, because this morning’s challenge is all about attempting to break a Guinness World Records with the YMCA. The mission? To take part in the Y’s #SweatForGood exercise ball class. The goal? To break the Guinness World Records for the largest exercise ball demonstration/class. As you can imagine, this was set to be one busy class.

With these types of events it can be hard to imagine what to expect; would people show up? Would it be busy enough? Would people be excited? I searched the #SweatForGood hashtag for answers as my taxi pulled up to front doors of the YMCA’s Grosvenor Street location in downtown Toronto.

At 6 am it’s still pitch-black outside, but the grand entrance is warm and glowing. Inside, it’s buzzing. Even with more than an hour to go before our record attempt begins, there are swarms of enthusiastic attendees already dressed in their complimentary Sweat For Good t-shirts from the YMCA. The age range is vast, and it’s clear that family members, friends, colleagues and individuals who are all part of the YMCA community have chosen to dedicate their morning to coming together for this momentous workout.

To be fully transparent, it’s been about 15 years since I was last in a YMCA facility, but it’s exactly as I remember: clean, welcoming, spacious and family-friendly. It’s just one of those spaces that automatically feels like a secondary home for anybody; a space for the community. I feel excited and nostalgic, and I love it.

After changing, I shuffle into the room dedicated to our record-breaking attempt, and I’m greeted by a ginormous gymnasium filled with what looks like one million oversized exercise balls. Those who have claimed their spots already are happily bouncing up and down in their seats as I navigate through the crowd to find some space alongside my fellow fit-fluencers in attendance, Jose Lopez, Dani Goddard and Karen Kwan.

The class itself is led by one of my favourite fitness personalities in Canada, the incredibly talented and motivating Eva Redpath. Even in front of what’s sure to be one of the biggest classes she’s ever taught (and at 7:30 in the morning, mind you), Eva is her usual up-beat and inspiring self while leading us all through a low-impact but high energy exercise ball workout for 30 minutes. Everyone in attendance is all smiles and continuously cheering; it feels more like we’re at a giant fun dance together, rather than a gruelling workout class.

As we hit the 30-minute mark and our class comes to an end, the entire room waits patiently as the Guinness World Records adjudicator that’s on site tallies the total number of class attendees. Did we manage to actually break the record? We take series of massive group photos while we anxiously await the grand reveal.

After a few more minutes of waiting, it’s finally time for the announcement. A somewhat reserved seeming adjudicator from Guinness World Records is on stage recapping the event and the record we are trying to break. As she goes over the details one by one, her voice and energy gradually climb to an epic high has she announces that WE! HAVE! BROKEN! A GUINNESS! WORLD! RECOOORRRD!! The crowd goes wild, we all high five and hug, and I think to myself that this woman is truly a professional ‘Hype Woman’ and freaking awesome at her job.

As one of the 454 world record-breaking participants at this class, I’m overwhelmed by fuzzy feelings and a sense of pride. I mean, how often do you get to kick off the new year at a workout class that sets a new record? There’s no better feeling than seeing the YMCA team presented with a framed award from the Guinness World Records to commemorate the incredible achievement.

Putting together a class and event of this scale is no easy feat, and it’s what makes me love places and businesses like the YMCA so much. It’s not just about getting your sweat on and feeling your best both physically and mentally, but it’s about bringing people together in a positive environment and connecting with the community in a fun and challenging way.

For more information on your nearest YMCA location and how you can get involved in their offering of programs for Torontonians of all ages, please visit the YMCA GTA website HERE.



(Story by Editor-in-Chief, Gracie Carroll)

*Photo credit for the top and bottom 2 photos; Stephanie Lake from The Canadian press*

*Please note that this post has been brought to you in partnership with YMCA GTA, all opinions my own*

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