Whole Family Workout


Second of a three-part series

Whole Family Workout

Hennesy family gets healthy participating in YMCA programs

By Robyn Davis Sekula


January 18, 2008

After 15 years of both working for Jeffersonville-based American Commercial Lines Inc., both Jeff and Tonya Hennesy lost their jobs in the same month in 2005.

Jeff Hennesy, who was manager of employment and legal compliance, and Tonya Hennesy, computer programming support, had met at the company and had worked there for most of their careers.

They were left to rebuild from the ground up. Tonya Hennesy started her own company and now owns Integrity Web Source, a computer services, desktop publishing and Web site development firm. Jeff Hennesy works with her as a consultant but is job hunting in the human resources field.

Along with that fresh start was another move: changing to a healthier lifestyle.

Tonya Hennesy began working out at the YMCA of Southern Indiana with friends, and when the friends dropped out, she encouraged her husband to join her. Now, they work out at least three times a week.

"This past two years has been very stressful," Jeff Hennesy said. Working out "is part of how we are going to manage stress and be healthy. This is the new way things are."

Working out together

Connecting with someone else who wants to work out is key to maintaining a workout routine, said Julie Callaway, wellness director for the YMCA of Southern Indiana.

"As long as you have a buddy, you can hold each other accountable," Callaway said. "You tell each other you'll meet at a certain time or go to a certain class together. Whether it's a kid or an adult, it's not as fun to go by yourself and be on the treadmill by yourself for 30 minutes."

Fitness mostly is a new goal for the Hennesys. At one time in his life, fitness was paramount, Jeff Hennesy recalled. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1983 after graduating from high school in Texas, and while in the Marines, he became very fit.

"I desire that again," Hennesy said. "I remember being able to run six miles and hardly breaking a sweat."

Tonya Hennesy said she had never seriously played team sports or worked out in her life before now.


Jeff Hennesy and Tonya Hennesy met on the job in 1990 and married in 1992. Both played on the American Commercial Lines softball team, but other than that, neither exercised.

Tonya Hennesy joined the YMCA with a friend two years ago, buying a family membership, and convinced her husband to join her about a year ago.

In 2003 Jeff Hennesy, who is 6 feet 2 inches tall, quit smoking, and his weight grew from 190 to 230 pounds. He's now at a comfortable 200, and wears pants that he hasn't been able to wear for a few years.

Tonya Hennesy is 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 150, the same she has weighed for at least the past six years. But her clothes fit differently now and her body is more toned.

"We've changed our workout routine and replaced muscle with fat," Jeff Hennesy said.

Working out together keeps the Hennesys motivated.

"He definitely encourages me," Tonya Hennesy said. "He's the one who showed me all of the different weight machines. I wouldn't have touched them before. I would have just done what I knew, which was the treadmill."

Jeff Hennesy likes it that someone holds him accountable, too. It "motivates both of us to get off of our butts and get to it. When we're done and we catch our breath, we feel a lot better."

Their routine

The Hennesys use some of their daytime hours to squeeze in a workout. After their children go to school, they go to the YMCA to work out, usually about three mornings a week. They stay together during their workout.

When they began working out a year ago, both walked on the treadmill and gradually built up to running on the treadmill.

Then the couple added strength training, and now they work out on an elliptical machine for a half-hour. After that cardiovascular workout, each does individual strength-training exercises.

During the summer, when the children are out of school, the entire family goes together.

Daughter Sydney, 9, joins them working out, while Cooper, 6, goes to on-site child care. Some evenings, the family swims together at the YMCA or takes their dog on a walk.

Sydney participates in a youth fitness program at the YMCA designed for children ages 7 to 13, Callaway said. The program is held in the regular workout gym at designated times when a youth wellness coach is available to assist them. Children younger than 14 are not allowed to work out in the gym unassisted.


The program takes participants through a series of 20 exercises that change every 30 seconds. Going through the entire routine three times gives them a 30-minute workout.

The children in the program periodically visit with a youth wellness coach, who teaches them how to use gym equipment. At the end of the program, the children are going through an entire cardiovascular and strength-building workout.

Sydney also participates in other programs outside of the YMCA that keep her active, including tennis, dance and gymnastics. Cooper plays T-ball and basketball. The Hennesys anticipate that Cooper will participate in the youth YMCA fitness program when he turns 7.

Eating habits

The changes they've made in eating habits are more subtle. They've worked more whole grain into their diets and avoid white bread as much as possible. They drink diet sodas instead of the full-sugar variety.

The Hennesys have been somewhat successful at encouraging Sydney and Cooper to eat more vegetables and fruit.

Tonya Hennesy also has started taking a multivitamin to make sure she gets all of the nutrients she needs.

Jeff Hennesy's goals are two-fold: to get off of his cholesterol medication entirely by eating better and exercising and to live longer and healthier lives than his peers. He also wants to see his children make solid, healthy choices.

"We are real lucky that we are healthy," Jeff Hennesy said. "We are getting to an age now where we have friends who have dropped dead in their 40s. ... We want our kids to be as healthy as they can be."


Jeff and Tonya Hennesy

Jobs: Tonya Hennesy owns Integrity Web Source, a computer services, desktop publishing and Web site development firm. Jeff Hennesy consults with her in the business.

Residence: Clarksville

Children: Sydney, 9, and Cooper, 6

Married since: 1992

Ages: Jeff Hennesy is 43, Tonya Hennesy, 40

The big change: About a year ago Tonya Hennesy invited her husband to join her during her workouts at the YMCA of Southern Indiana. The two now work out three times a week, and daughter Sydney joins them on occasion.

Other changes: Adding whole grain to their diets and decreased their intake of sugar

Results: Jeff Hennesy has lost 30 pounds; Tonya Hennesy's weight has remained the same, but she is more toned.


YMCA Details

Jeff and Tonya Hennesy work out at the YMCA of Southern Indiana, 4812 Hamburg Pike in Jeffersonville. The Hennesys bought a family membership, which entitles the entire family to visit the YMCA as often as they wish.

Their membership allows them access to cardiovascular and strength-building equipment, participation in group exercise classes, access to personal coaches to help them create a workout plan, and other activities. The membership is month-to-month and costs a family $62 per month, plus a one-time joining fee of $115.

YMCA of Greater Louisville offers similar rates. There are 12 YMCAs in Louisville, and membership in any one of them buys unlimited visiting rights to all of them. The communitywide family membership is $79, plus an $80 joining fee, according to the organization's Web site. Similar amenities are available.

People with communitywide memberships at either the Louisville or Southern Indiana YMCAs can use facilities of both organizations. For some YMCA branches, a less expensive membership is available for that location only.

Other rate packages are available, including those for youth, single adults and seniors. For more details go online to www.ymcalouisville.org or ymcasi.org.