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Ten Minutes With a 66-Year-Old Personal Trainer

Melissa Arnold is a Fairfield YMCA instructor who is a triple threat; between being a certified personal trainer, a certified Qigong instructor, and being a gentle, upbeat person, she’s able to keep her students fit, relaxed and smiling. As a personal trainer and fitness instructor for almost 30 years she has decades of experience motivating people toward their health goals. And as an added bonus, having turned 66 this past May, she serves as a real-life role model and inspiration.

How long have you been with the YMCA?
When I was a kid there was no YMCA in Fairfield. We had to take swim lessons in Westport. The Y opened in 1964 and we came here right away. My mother became a board member early on, so I’ve been part of it, more or less, since the beginning.

How long have you been a Personal Trainer?
Since 1992, and I love it. One of the best parts is to work with people and show them that optimum health and wellness doesn’t take more time than they have. They think being over weight that they can’t lose it. They are discouraged but small changes add up over time. A Personal Trainer can show you simple moves that can make big changes.

Have you struggled with your weight?
I had the reverse struggle. I had a lot of illnesses and had to keep my weight and fitness up. In 1999, I was diagnosed with late stage Lyme Disease and could barely get out of bed. I attribute my fitness to allowing me to climb out of that dark hole. It took six years of antibiotics and focusing on nutrition but I’m fine now.

You also teach Qigong classes at the Y, tell me about that.
I went to take a mind, body fitness course on Qigong in 2001. It gave me a new perspective. Instead of focusing on just the physical it brought the whole mind, body, spirit together. I fully believe in not bullying your body. I tell many people, think about how you talk to yourself. People can be very mean to themselves. You need to be nice to yourself.

What is the age of you clients?
As I have been aging, my clients have been too, (laughs!) 40’s and up…I even have clients in their 80s.

Best advice you’ve been given?
Hmmm, my dad had great sayings, “what’s the trouble with trying to get your ducks in a row? Ducks have a tendency to waddle away.” It means don’t worry, enjoy your life. Stress is a huge enemy, more than people realize. That’s why I love Qigong.

What do you love about Fairfield?
A lot of things! I love it’s on the shore. You can walk along the beach to recharge and then go right into town. There are so many good things but it’s mainly the people. It’s a community.

How are you handling the Pandemic?
I’m focusing on the positive and I’m doing Qigong three times a day to help myself stay in the here and now and keep good energy flowing. When the Y closed, people reached out to me, so I’ve been doing personal training sessions and teaching Qigong classes through Zoom.

Are the training sessions and classes open to everyone?
Yes! If someone is interested, they can email me at [email protected] Everyone is welcome.



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