Everyone can grow their potential and thrive. The YMCA helps strengthen our community. We love sharing personal stories of the Y's impact. Have a story you'd like to share about your time at the Y? Call 715-841-1819 or email Carrie.
Meet a Member- Sue Meyer:
Sue Meyer was not a Y member when her physician told her about the Y’s 12 week LIVESTRONG at the Y program. She wanted to try to regain strength she had lost after her surgery for breast cancer. The Wausau woman said she helps her mom with therapy several times a week so she wanted to make sure she could remain a good caretaker.
The other LIVESTRONG participants in Sue’s session stay connected and share the ups and downs. They check in with each other often.
“I email the past participants to keep them encouraged,” Sue said.
When they graduated the program in October, Sue crafted awards for everyone made from concrete core samples. The keepsake reminds each of them they have a strong “inner core”.
Not only did Sue gain confidence for strength training and other exercise through her Livestrong experience but she also gained a job, working at The Landing. As the new center opened in October, Sue gave tours and got involved in programs.
“I made five pies the Thursday before Thanksgiving—started at The Landing!” said Sue. I like the people. It’s just such a positive atmosphere.”
Meet a Member- Madison Lee:
Madison Lee, 8, likes when her fellow gymnasts are on the podium with her. As the competitive season winds down, Madison’s mom Heather said she’s eager to move into Level 4 with the Woodson YMCA Whirlers.
Heather coached the Level 2 program, drawing from 16 years of her own gymnastics experience. Heather said Madison was tumbling at age 1 and taking an interest very early in the sport.
The family moved to the Wausau area about five years ago and Heather enrolled her daughter in Kindergymnastics at the Wausau Branch. Madison was already tumbling in the “Big Gym” by age 4.
“She’s excelled really quickly, she’ll practice on a certain skill until she gets it!”
Meet a Member- Donna Kuehl:
“I’m so amazed at the encouragement you get, even some of the guys who are ‘all muscle’ and everybody on the staff.”
It’s hard to imagine that Donna Kuehl, 70, was only able to lift one pound weights as she now makes her way around the Wellness Center at the Aspirus Branch, squatting, dead lifting and slamming battle ropes.
Donna first reached out to the YMCA following five months of physical therapy and surgery. Her therapist connected Donna to a trainer in the Y’s Transition Program. She was rehabilitating from a fall that tore Donna’s rotator cuff and did extensive damage to her arm.
The Weston woman, who had never before exercised, took a chance on herself that is paying off. Donna invested in weekly personal training with Shannon Ramsey.
“I decided with some hesitation to give it a try. It turned out to be a great way to get started and past the intimidation fear factor,” said Donna.
After two years of consistent training, Donna is now holding her balance on a Bosu ball, lifting weights, keeping her joints mobile with various bodyweight exercises and climbing stairs much easier.
Donna continues to work her balance and strength working through the trainer’s plan twice a week on her own in addition to her personal training session.
“If I can do more weight, I tell her,” Donna said.
She feared that she might develop long-lasting issues from the shoulder injury and her doctor recommended that Donna keep using her arm as much as possible to fight arthritis. Donna enjoys quilting and playing mahjongg at The Landing at the Woodson YMCA -Wausau Branch so she’s motivated to exercise to stay agile for her hobbies.
“I’m in a place where I never expected three years ago to be and it makes me happy,” she said.
Meet a Member- Pam Zahn:
Pam Zahn went searching for a cancer support group. She found a little family. Enrolling in Livestrong at the YMCA last fall at the Wausau Branch, Pam connected with survivors who she now considers dear friends.
Pam, 55, was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor in 2018. Following a year of treatment – surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and medication- that left her extremely fatigued, she signed up for the 12-week program.
Pam’s initial fear was that she had never used exercise equipment and had no experience working out. When the group got in the pool for water exercise, she was out of her comfort zone but enjoyed it after all.
The survivors, ages 38 to 78, supported one another with a shared understanding of treatment plans and all their side effects.
“We laughed a lot,” said Pam. She said there’s days she’s still hurting but typically the movement has given her relief. Pam continues to exercise on her own several times weekly or with her new Y friends in the Wellness Center.
“Not only do you gain the confidence of coming to the gym,” Pam said, “you gain a small little family. We still meet as a group because we like each other.”
Pam and her husband have a farm in town of Maine where they grow hemp, ginseng and have beef cattle. Twice a week she works in her pottery studio. She’s a mother of two sons.
Meet a Member - Dave Schumann:
Dave Schumann has spent the past six years at the Y mainly making shots in the gym, playing pickleball. He now plays the sport around the country in tournaments. He is also involved, as a member of the Wausau Area Pickleball Club, in teaching others his love of the game.
“I’m interested in growing the sport,” Dave said, after last week’s Intro to Pickleball Clinic at the Wausau Branch.
He said beginners might think it’s harder than they expect at first. They have to get used to the way the ball moves, not as much bounce as in tennis. It’s a great way to get exercise and meet people.
“Everyone’s having fun by the end,” Dave said.
His club raised the funds to install six additional outdoor courts at Marathon Park this summer. The rest of the year, players enjoy social play and drills and skills at both Y branches.
Dave is a long-time Y member of close to 30 years!
Meet a Member - Kou and Maly Lee Family:
For the past two years, Kou & Maly Lee have been coming to the Y to have fun and be active as a family.
"It's good for them for now and in the future," said Maly.
Their youngest, Rose, is learning skills on the balance beam in Beginning Gymtricks, coming home tired but content!
Maly said she has consistently noticed how much more energy that working out has given her. Kou enjoys playing with the kids in the gym or swimming. It's been a great way to fight winter boredom and stay healthy as well, he said.
Meet a Member - Tim Lutgen:
Y member Tim Lutgen said so many have helped him to gain a better understanding of maintaining his fitness and health that now he is driven to help others.
In late 2018, Tim became short of breath on a hike and decided to get checked out. The lower half of his heart was not pumping properly. The Wausau man needed a stent to improve his blood circulation. Although Tim took regular walks, his health and nutrition were not his priority back then.
Tim, 65, credits his supportive wife, Roxanne, and his cardiac rehab team for getting him focused on his health. He changed his entire mindset and began eating “smart”.
“When you’re given a second chance, you don’t waste it,” said Tim, a father of six.
At the Y, Tim committed himself to daily workouts. He spends up to 90 minutes on the elliptical machines, sometimes the distance of a 10K or longer!
One achieved goal led to another for Tim and now he’s maintaining an 80 pound weight loss! He’s been able to drop five prescription medications.
Meet a Member - Les Bisgrove:
There's a small but impactful program running on Mondays at the Wausau Branch for a variety of movement disorders.
Les Bisgrove of Mosinee is living with Multiple Sclerosis and he says the weekly classes have made him stronger. Les explained that he's got better control of his balance since he started in Exercise for Better Movement and he's more aware of his abilities.
"I've been doing the class sessions continuously for a year and a half. I think it helps a lot. I can do more reps from the start. I'm trying to get more balance and flexibility. It benefits any condition," said Les.
He enjoys using the pool to take weight off his legs. Les said the instructors have given him plenty of stretches and exercises he can use for everyday life.
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