It may be dead quiet on Marco before dawn on any given day, but things are pretty lively in the gym over at the YMCA of South Collier (Marco Y).
Here, to the accompaniment of kickass music—that on this particular morning leans heavily on the rap genre—Y Group Fitness Instructor Stacy Witthoff conducts yet another of her 6 AM to 7 AM sessions that have made her such a Y fixture.
Witthoff, while not as publicly visible as some of her colleagues who work regular hours, has instructed at the Y for the past 18 years, and simply loves promoting fitness and health.
And indeed camaraderie.
“A lot of people in my classes have developed amazing friendships,” Witthoff says. “They get together outside the Y. It’s also been great for new people moving to the area.”
Shelli Connelly has been with the class since Witthoff kicked it off in 2001, armed with college–level instructor certification—from FSU.
“I love Stacy’s energy,” says Connelly, who likes working out early before heading to her day job managing her own cleaning company. “There’s not a day that I haven’t been challenged.”
Sessions, which Witthoff tailors to all fitness levels, consist of high and low impact exercises that include stretches, calisthenics using bodyweight, push-ups and training weights.
A couple of years prior to becoming a mom for the first time—in 2001, son Ryan is now a college student—Witthoff also instructed at the Y, concentrating more on boot camps, kickboxing and spinning.
Ironically, Witthoff wasn’t wild about exercise before her teens. “Then I started tennis in eighth grade, and became extremely competitive,” she said. “After that, it was training four hours a day, and it ended up with our doubles team going to State.”
She also developed an interest in softball, golf and swimming.
Witthoff says that over the last few months, the pandemic forced some adaptation—she chose virtual class workouts—but the easing of restrictions has now enabled her to resume classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with the appropriate precautions. Details on how to participate are available from the Y.
The Y’s CEO Cindy Love-Abounader is impressed by Witthoff’s early-bird staying power and says she’s also always willing to help the Y in the background. “We are blessed to have a Y team member who’s dad (Marv) helped start the Y and also served as Y president. Stacy was a Y kid and is now a Y supporter.”
By day, Marco born-and-bred Witthoff works along with her brother Scott Needles as a Realtor with The Needles Group under the umbrella of John R. Wood Properties.
Their dad Marv is himself, a long-serving Realtor who cut his teeth working with the original Marco Island developers, the Mackle Brothers.
Witthoff’s husband Curt has worked in a variety of educational fields. They also have a daughter named Mia.
For more on the Y’s wide variety of programs and activities for adults and children, visit marcoymca.org or call 239-394-9622. Follow on Twitter at ymcamarco, on Facebook at marcoymca, and Instagram at ymcamarco.