Ensuring a Brighter Future

Bwalya Desmond

Exercise Isn't a Job, "It Is a Gift"

Bwalya Desmond naturally exudes the confidence and beauty of a happy, physically fit working mother. She exercises at the Y North about five mornings a week when it opens at 5. She's full of energy and grateful that she's ready to work out in one of her favorite group fitness classes.


"I don't consider it a job to exercise; it is a gift," Bwalya says. "This is the body God has given me, and I want to take care of it."


Every morning before the sun rises, she's eager to go to the Y. She loves to talk with friends and other Y members working out. The group classes, such as spinning, boot camp and strength training, fit her outgoing, friendly personality. "When my alarm goes off, I thank God for another day," Bwalya says. "I'm here by the grace of God. I'm so thankful."


Her motivation to exercise and her relationship with God were strengthened during a difficult pregnancy with her first son. To save her baby from a premature birth, Bwalya was medically ordered four months of bed rest. During that time, she prayed a lot and read the Bible. "I learned that no one else could help me but Him," she says. "I had to do my part, but it was up to Him to help me and my son."


Her prayers were answered when her son was born at 37-1/2 weeks, weighing a solid 7 pounds, 6 ounces. Today he is a healthy 9 year old. Bwalya and her husband of 13 years, Tim, have a second 6-year-old son. Their oldest was born in November, and Bwalya returned to the Y in March. She hadn't exercised in nearly a year. "That taught me that you can stop exercising for a while and then return again," she says.


Bwalya, age 38, describes the Y "as good place for my family." Her sons have been involved in swimming lessons, karate, basketball, and other activities. They enjoy playing games together in the gym.


Along with group exercise classes, Bwalya participates in the Indoor Triathlon each February and runs the half-marathon in the Y Maple Leaf Road Races. She won second place in 2010 and third place in 2011 for her age group.


Living in the La Crosse area for more than 20 years, Bwalya can't remember a time when she wasn't a Y member. Exercise gives her the energy she needs to put in 10- to 12-hour days at CenturyLink, where she works with the company's engineers, and to care for her family.


"I love what the Y offers; I love the variety of classes," she says. "I love the people, and the instructors are excellent – they work so hard for the members. We're all there for the same reason – to stay healthy and take care of ourselves."


- By Kim Seidel, Seidel Ink LLC. 2012