Health & Wellness November Newsletter

Welcome to our Health & Wellness Community! Our expert staff shares their knowledge and experience, providing you with the latest nutritional tips, recipes, stretches and exercise classes to support your health journey.

Nutrition in November!

By Renée Giese

So often, we see “healthy” holiday recipes and ways to ‘beat the bulge’ around Thanksgiving and Christmas. I personally challenge this thought process when it comes to food and social gatherings.

What we have to remember is - we are what we do more. If we eat sensible, healthy meals all year long, one or two meals will do absolutely nothing to derail our progress. The same is true if you eat healthy one or two meals per year and the rest are unhealthy.

When we make recipes, they are generally handed down to us from family and friends. Everyone has a favorite meal that someone in their family has cooked for them. These are cherished and important memories to create and enjoy. Please don’t change great-grandma’s stuffing to chase skinny this holiday season. The other 29 days of the month matter much more than the one day of festivities!


Trainer Recipe Corner

Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad

It should be noted that while this recipe is described as a salad, it truly stands as an entrée.  It is filling, delicious, nutritious, and perfect for a fall dish for lunch or dinner!

Warm Butternut and Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing
Adapted from Orangette, who adapted it from Casa Moro
Yield: 4 servings

For salad:

  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 of a medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

For tahini dressing:

  • 1 medium garlic clove, finely minced with a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste

Preheat the oven to 425°F.


In a large bowl, combine the butternut squash, garlic, allspice, olive oil, and a few pinches of salt. Toss the squash pieces until evenly coated. Roast them on a baking sheet for 25 minutes, or until soft. Remove from the oven and cool.

Meanwhile, make the tahini dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic and lemon juice. Add the tahini, and whisk to blend. Add the water and olive oil, whisk well, and taste for seasoning. The sauce should have plenty of nutty tahini flavor, but also a little kick of lemon. You will probably need to add more water to thin it out.

To assemble the salad, combine the squash, chickpeas, onion, and cilantro or parsley in a mixing bowl. Either add the tahini dressing to taste, and toss carefully, or you could serve the salad with the dressing on the side. Serve immediately.

Do ahead: This salad, lightly dressed, keeps beautifully in the fridge, that you should hold a little of the dressing on the side and that it can be reheated in the microwave.

Personal Trainer Spotlight

Get to know: Matthew Ladewig

“Consistent work pays off! Try to work on your fitness every day.”

Goals a person achieves at the gym can roll over into other areas of life. When a client begins to notice their progress, they feel better overall.


  • NASM Certified Personal Trainer

Goals a person achieves at the gym can roll over into other areas of life. When a client begins to notice their progress, they feel better overall. 

When you work to achieve a goal and you can see and fell that tangible change in yourself, you feel rewarded. 

As long as the person is working on a goal, I can help get them there. We build on that improvement and apply it to other areas.

I enjoy making and meeting personal fitness goals. When I am not training, I will play video games and I compete in a weekly recreational soccer league.


Challenge Accepted!

Come join the club!

The 500 lb and 1000 lb Club is up and running in the Woodson YMCA Wellness Center – come check out the board to see who has made it into the club!  Members complete three lifts - one deadlift, one squat, and one bench press – with the total weight equal to at least 500 or 1000 lbs.

Members who would like to join the club – just set up a time with a trainer to witness your lifts. You can contact a trainer at Personal Training, or stop by the Health and Wellness office to set up a time.

New health & wellness program

Small Group Training

Season 2

In Small Group Training sessions, one trainer will work with four to a maximum of eight clients.  Keeping the group to this size allows the trainer to personalize the trainings to the needs of the group members and allows the trainer to pay close attention to each client’s form so every member can progress safely.

What are the benefits of Small Group Training?

The benefits are numerous!  Besides experiencing the expertise of a personal trainer at a fraction of the cost of one-on-one training, additional benefits include:

What are the benefits of Small Group Training?

The benefits are numerous!  Besides experiencing the expertise of a personal trainer at a fraction of the cost of one-on-one training, additional benefits include:

  • Personalized workouts:  the trainer will get to know the needs of each member of the group and will be able to adjust workouts accordingly
  • Motivation:  having others working with you encourages you to keep going
  • Support:  small groups get to know one another and provide accountability
  • Enjoyment:  working out with friends is simply fun, and when exercise is fun, adherence to it is so much easier!

When do classes start?  How long do the run?  What’s the cost? Details, please!

  • Classes will run for 6-week “Seasons”. Season 2 begins the week of November 6, 2023. The first week will be an introductory week and the season will run through December 22nd, 2023.
  • There will be a “bye week” during the week of Thanksgiving, November 20th – 24th.
  • Each class is 45 minutes, twice a week, for 6 weeks.
  • Classes include two InBody Biometric Scale evaluations, a $70 value. One at the beginning of the 6-week session and one at the end of the session. The InBody report will help the client and trainer personalize their trainings and set specific goals.
  • Classes will include personalized guidance and nutrition support.
  • The cost of each session is $79, for YMCA Members only.


Matt’s Stretch of the Month

The Chest

Our lifestyles often include sitting in the car, sitting at a desk, and hunching over phones and laptops – and all of these activities tend to contribute to tightness in the chest and forward rounded shoulders.  This can reduce range of motion in your shoulders and lead to pain and limited flexibility.  Stretching your chest on a regular basis can not only allow for greater, pain-free range of motion in your shoulders, but it can also improve upper body posture.  Here are a few ways to safely and effectively stretch the chest:

Doorway chest stretch:

This exercise allows you to stretch each side of your chest separately.

  • Assume a split stance with your right leg in the front and left leg in the back, at the end of a wall or in a doorway.
  • Bring the left arm up to shoulder height and position the palm and inside of the arm on the wall surface or doorway. Your arm should look like a goal post
  • Gently press the chest through the open space to feel the stretch
  • Moving the arm higher or lower will allow you to stretch various sections of the chest
  • Repeat on the other side

Above-the-head chest stretch:

  • While either seated or standing, intertwine your fingers, bend your elbows and raise your arms over your head
  • Gently squeeze your shoulder blades together and move your elbows and hands backward
  • Vary the height of your hands to emphasize shoulders and/or chest (hands behind head, hands on top of head, hand a few inches above head)