Getting healthy can be fun

Just 30 minutes of daily exercise can make a difference. And a wellness coach can help you get there— for free.

Michael Mayotte’s easygoing personality doesn’t seem like the drill sergeant many of us might imagine in a wellness coach. In fact, his No. 1 piece of health advice is to have fun.

Fun? Doesn’t getting healthier mean trading in desserts for diets? The couch for crunches? Twinkies for tofu?

Not according to Mayotte, a wellness coach at the Baptist Y Healthy Living Center in Mandarin. “Small tweaks can make a big difference. Just 150 minutes of activity a week can lower your blood pressure and get your heart in better shape.” The key, he says, is finding an activity that you enjoy.

MMayotte_400“You aren’t going to do something you hate, so if running isn’t your thing, pick something else,” he said. “Even walking your dog more often can help. I help people find activities they like and that fit into their everyday life.”

Remember fun?
Mayotte likes running, but his favorite activities are soccer and disc golf because they make him feel like a kid again. “Remember when you were little? Exercising was fun and most of the time, you didn’t even realize you were doing it,” he said.

People of all ages, sizes and fitness levels are among Mayotte’s clients. You don’t have to be a YMCA member and the wellness coaching is free.

All the wellness coaches at Baptist Y Healthy Living centers share one common trait that this is a “no judgment zone.” He recalled one client coming in after a few sessions saying, “You’re going to be mad at me.” Instead, Mayotte helped her focus on going forward.

“Everyone is going to have ups and downs, and that’s OK. We all have birthday parties, vacations and holidays. It’s all about making small changes along the way toward your goal and getting back on track,” he said.

Taking the first step
One of the first steps is usually a health screening, which includes blood pressure, body composition, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar. Each session lasts about an hour. “Getting a health screening isn’t mandatory,” Mayotte said, but it’s a good idea because it gives you a baseline to compare and see your progress.

“Every client is different and their goals are different. For some, it’s maintaining their health and for others, it’s stepping it up to the next level. Whatever a person’s goals are, our job is to be by their side to help them get there,” Mayotte said. It’s not uncommon for him to email or call with an encouraging word.

That’s what he likes about his job — getting to know people and helping them get healthier. “My favorite part is the look on someone’s face when it all clicks and they begin to understand how much control they have over their own health.

“It’s neat to see people turn their health around,” he added.

Baptist has five Y Healthy Living centers – at the Ys in Mandarin, Ponte Vedra, Riverside, Northside and the new Baptist North Medical Campus on I-295 and Dunn Avenue. The medical director is Aristides Sastre, MD, a family physician with Baptist Primary Care.

You can make a free appointment with a wellness coach by calling 904.202.CARE (2273) or visiting

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