The YMCA, Ensuring a Brighter Future

Sarah Rank

Sarah Rank: Weightlifting at the Y Gives Working Mom More Strength & Energy

Most fitness success stories involve weight loss. Sarah Rank’s story is one of adding body weight by increasing her muscle strength and endurance. She and her family joined the La Crosse Area Family YMCA in 2012. “I wanted to gain muscle and feel stronger,” says the 35-year-old Sarah. She achieved her goal with a newly discovered passion for weightlifting and running at the Y. For Rank, the mother of three young children who works full-time, she believes that “consistency is key” to her success. What Sarah does to maintain her motivation to exercise seems simple, but it’s become a life-changing action. She marks every day she goes to the Y on her calendar. She looks back and confidently reports that she’s accomplished about 292 work-outs in 2014 and 300 in 2013. “I’ve always been a numbers person and a person of routine,” she says. When she first joined the Y, she worked out twice a week. Then in January of 2013, she started hitting the Wellness Center six days a week and she achieved more results that she wanted for herself.


Sarah continues to work out at the Y every day, except for Friday when she and her family walk and bike together outdoors. Her husband, 36-year-old Rob Rank, dedicates himself as a stay-at-home dad to their children – Andrew, 8, Elise, 5, and Jameson, 4. The family also benefits from the Y Child Watch, where the kids enjoy spending time while mom works out. Sarah smiles as the staff members greet her children by their names. “This is like my family here at the Y,” she says. Sarah feels as positive about the Y’s Miracle League Baseball for her oldest son. “Andrew has friends and he has mentors,” she says. “It’s not about winning; it’s about everyone participating.” One of the most important practices Sarah wants to instill in her children is to taking care of their health. Seeing their mom regularly work out at the Y and exercising every week as a family remains vital to imparting those lessons. Her children love caterpillars and showed interest when Sarah told them about a butterfly’s long flight. “If a Monarch butterfly can complete a journey from Wisconsin to Mexico, then surely I can make it to the gym for 30 to 60 minutes a day,” she says. “The task doesn’t seem so daunting when put into that perspective.”


Weightlifting filled Sarah’s craving for a more intense workout. As a visual person, she watched YouTube and created a routine on note-cards, which she carried with her at the Y for a month. “I was worried at first about being looked at, but then other members started asking me questions,” she says. “I’m happy to share my routines.” Weightlifting has not only improved her physical endurance, but also sharpened her mental stamina. “I used to feel like napping in the middle of the afternoon,” Sarah says. “Now I feel more energetic all day.” She lifts weights to work combined muscle groups on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, she does cardio exercises, mainly running on the treadmill. Sarah has surprised herself at how much she enjoys exercise. “I despised running while growing up,” she recalls. Weightlifting is most relaxing for Sarah. She puts on her headset with music and focuses on each exercise. “This is my time for me,” she says. “I can concentrate on each repetition. It’s the most relaxed state I’m ever in when I’m weightlifting.” She’s no longer intimidated by other Y members; she’s inspired. “I saw guys doing chin-ups and burpees, and I thought to myself, ‘There’s no reason I can’t do that.’ I added it into my cardio days as a way to finish up the session,” she says. “Women truly can do anything men can do.”

– by Kim Seidel, Seidel Ink LLC