Tamar Rafaeli, 52, is a proud member of “The Back Row Gang,” at Merritt Athletic Club in Towson, Md. Although “gang” is a word usually synonymous with something nefarious, Rafeili assured me her gang is quite harmless.
“We older gals that take the class stand in the back and call ourselves ‘The Back Row Gang,’” explained Rafaeli. “There are ‘youngsters’ in the class too, and together it is a blast.”
Rafaeli first became a member of the gang when she joined Merritt about 10 years ago. She originally joined to help alleviate back pain and work towards better health, and, being a diabetic, found that the club helped manage that as well. “The warm water therapy pool did wonders for my back,” she explained.
According to Rafaeli, being a diabetic had continually affected her everyday life. “It changes everything,” she said. “I have to constantly be aware of my intake — what I eat, how much I eat, etcetera. For example, I have to make sure that I eat several small meals daily.”
Being a member of The Back Row Gang has proven to be a great source of support in managing Rafaeli’s disease. According to Rafaeli, the gang’s support was especially helpful when Rafaeli’s mother passed away in April 2012. Her mother had suffered from diabetes as well.
“My Merritt buddies were so supportive during my mother’s illness,” said Rafaeli. “I would have never met these friends if it were not for the gym. It is truly like an extended family.”
The Back Row Gang could typically be found at the back of Merritt’s boot camp class — Rafaeli’s favorite group exercise class. “Well, I absolutely love the class,” said Rafaeli. “First, it is the best workout that I have ever had. Ray Salas, the instructor, is very motivational when he teaches and he makes it fun. It is amazing how good I feel when I take the class. But it is also about the morning after boot camp. My body feels great! This class, and others, have helped to improve my health.”
Rafaeli shared words of advice for those suffering from diabetes. “Exercise should be a part of everyone’s life, but especially that of a diabetic,” she said. “My glucose levels are lower and my A1C (blood sugar) number has also decreased. My doctor is very pleased. In fact, she is a member too!”
According to Rafaeli, she recently renewed her contract with Merritt, in order to gain better health, and for friendship. “Joining Merritt has affected my life greatly, and only in good, positive ways,” she said. “I look forward to going because I know I will feel better physically and mentally. The club contributes only positive things to my life.”
Rafaeli found support for a disease that negatively impacted her life at Merritt Athletic Club. Do you know of members at your club suffering from certain conditions, such as diabetes or cancer? Consider introducing those members to others who may be able to provide them with support. Rafaeli turned to her club for better health, and came away with a support group, or “gang.”
Top 5 Things Tamar Loves About Merritt
1. The gym is fun. There is a great vibe!
2. I know that I will feel better post workout. The health benefits are amazing.
3. I love the classes: BODYPUMP™, Spinning®, RPM, boot camp and Fast Tracs.
4. Locations. Towson and Cranbrook. I can go to wherever it best fits my schedule.
5. The friendships that I have made as a direct result of my joining Merritt.
By Rachel Zabonick