AUBURN — As the year 2020 approached, YMCA fitness instructor Stacy Burns and her friends felt out of touch with their healthy habits.
Feeling they were lacking connection and support, Burns wondered how she could unite as many people as possible to start working out together.
"In this day and age, the best way to make that connection is clearly social media. Whether we like it or not, that's how you connect with people," Burns said.
In December, she started the Facebook page Reboot 2020 to see how many people she could reach and get interest from. The page currently has 244 followers.
"It just shocked me. It was like, holy cow, this is what we needed. This is what I needed," Burns said.
She wanted to continue the group's momentum by offering an eight-week exercise course, which she described as a "friendly little weight-loss challenge" for the new year.
The group's first workout, on Jan. 15, was attended by about 60 people. "It blew up in such a good way," Burns said. She leads the classes, which are open to people with any level of exercise experience, every Wednesday night at the Auburn YMCA at 27 William St.
"These are people that are on the same Facebook page together," Burns said. "To watch them get into the room and little by little each week start connecting that much more — I mean I really think there's going to be friendships made out of this."
When developing the course, Burns also asked her boss and YMCA Health and Wellness Director Laura Clary to allow people without YMCA memberships to join her class.
She was there for the first "final five" exercise Burns leads at the end of every class, when five minutes is set aside for the group to share personal struggles.
"I left there and I felt like I had been at a halftime football locker room talk by a coach. It was so motivating and dead on," Clary said.
Burns has also shared before and after photos of her weight loss with the Facebook group, and tries to show the people in her classes — who are mostly women — support with eye contact and motivation.
"I feel, as a previously obese person, I know how that feels to have somebody say 'I get exactly where you're coming from,'" she said.
To accommodate the different skill levels and amount of people involved in the classes, Burns designed the exercises around partner work, cardio, strength building and interval work.
She attributed the high turnout to the feeling of connection and support within the class. "Women just don't have that the way they should these days," she said.
"I'm far, far from perfect," Burns continued. "But I kind of like who I've become. And I want these women to get to a point where they can kind of like who they've become, too."