Locker Room and Warm Water Pool Capital Projects


Locker Room, Warm Water Pool and Physical Therapy Space

May 19th, 2021

As our YMCA begins to recover from the impacts of the COVID pandemic and we look enthusiastically to the future, we are excited to get our capital project underway.  As you know, it has been a challenging year for the Y, our community and our neighbors and friends.  We are pleased and excited to be in a position to get our projects under construction this summer so that our community will benefit from the facility improvements. 

The Dahl branch in La Crosse will get a full locker room remodel – including a new steam room and sauna, bathrooms off the pool deck, larger universal locker (family) room and more. The Houser Branch in Onalaska will be getting a new warm water pool, a steam room and sauna and a new Physical Therapy space operated by Gundersen Health System.

Dahl Branch - Full Locker Room Remodel

The Dahl branch will have the largest transformation.  Our locker rooms haven’t been renovated since the building was built in 1969. A lot has changed since then including how our members and community use our Y. With the remodel we will be providing members and program participants with barrier free accessibility, improved privacy, better access to the pool, and a safer environment for all members. 

So now you ask, what are you doing to upgrade the locker rooms?

  • Gutting everything – but not all at once.
  • Within the new universal locker room, we will create private changing and shower rooms – designed for young children and their parents or care givers, seniors, members wishing for increased privacy, and members who need improved access to the facility.
  • We will create a female locker room and a male locker room to serve members in a more modern way, including private showers, new lockers, and improved accessibility for all.  Within these two new locker rooms, we will create private changing and shower rooms for those members seeking additional privacy. Additionally, we will be doubling the number of bathroom facilities for our female members. 
  • By combining youth and adults in the same locker rooms, the increased traffic and activity levels improve the safety and security for all Y members and guests.
  • We will replace all the plumbing, fixtures, air handling equipment, lighting, and more, to improve facility efficiency as well as member and participant comfort.
  • We will create two bathrooms off the pool deck which will improve access for young children, as well as those needing assistance.

FAQs - Dahl Branch

No. These projects are being funded through a combination of gifts from generous donors along with some internal YMCA financing. Membership rates are not being changed as a result of the planned improvements.

Yes, in fact, one of our main objectives as we plan for this remodeling project is improved barrier-free accessibility of the Dahl Y.  This will include improved access to lockers, additional barrier-free shower rooms, better access to the pool area, and a design that removes the entry doors to the three locker rooms.  

At this time we are anticipating that construction will begin in the summer of 2021, and will be completed by the fall of 2022.   

During construction at the Dahl Branch, we will be staging the projects in a way that ensures that we have locker rooms available for everyone. We will provide additional details as the construction project approaches and gets underway.  

Yes, plans include the addition of two bathrooms off of the pool deck.  This will dramatically improve bathroom access for members and guests and will no longer require members to walk through the locker rooms to access the bathrooms. 

Yes, transitioning from five to three locker rooms allows us to improve privacy, increase the number of bathroom facilities, and improve safety and security for our members because of the increased traffic and volume.  The new design also allows for a Universal Locker Room with private changing/shower rooms as well as private changing rooms being added to the male and female locker rooms.  Additionally, this new design will align with what we’re seeing in contemporary YMCA’s.

Yes.  The new design will have children and adults using the same locker rooms.  Since we opened the Houser Y in Onalaska in 2006, children and adults have been using the same locker rooms without any issues or concerns.  Additionally, the proposed locker room design is consistent with the design of contemporary YMCA’s and the increased traffic and activity levels improve the safety and security for all Y members and guests.

Once remodeled, the locker rooms will not include lounges. A few years ago we created a wonderful community lounge space off of the locker rooms. Once the remodeling project is complete, this space will be equipped with coffee, snacks, lounge furniture, high tables and chairs and more.

We’re excited to be planning for a Universal Locker Room that will include fourteen (14) private changing and shower rooms, including sinks, showers, and toilets.  Several of these rooms will be fully handicap accessible. 

Plans include new air handling equipment, improved ventilation and an improved ability to control temperature and humidity within the locker rooms and community lounge.

Our plans include a new steam room and sauna to be constructed off of the swimming pool deck, accessible from the pool.  The decision to relocate the steam and sauna is based on improved safety and security for our members resulting from these spaces being more visible to Y staff and members.  These new spaces will be large, state of the art, co-ed, and easily accessible.

Once the project is completed, lockers will continue to be available for rent in the male and female locker rooms.

For now, sit tight and wait for further information.  We will make the transition from construction to the new lockers as easy and seamless as possible.  Watch for more information coming soon.

Houser Branch: Warm Water Pool, Physical Therapy Space

We are excited to announce not only a new warm water pool, but also a steam room and sauna to the Houser Branch in Onalaska.  Also, Gundersen and the Y are partnering on a new space for Gundersen physical therapy services at the Houser Branch. This new space is tentatively scheduled to open fall 2021, pending construction and coordination.

FAQs - Houser Branch

YES! We are very excited to be bringing a warm water swimming pool to the Houser Y to better meet the needs of our senior members, our young members and those members wanting a warmer water experience.  The plans at the Houser Y also include a steam room, sauna, and a new room off the Wellness Center which will be used by Gundersen Health System to provide physical therapy. 

Although we haven’t determined a final temperature for the warm water pool, we are anticipating a temperature of approximately 90°F (current pool temp is about 84°F).

Yes, the construction of the new warm water pool will eliminate the addition of any future whirlpool at the Houser Y.  This decision has been made because a warm pool will serve far more members in the community compared to the number of members who would be served with a whirlpool. 

The new pool will be constructed on the south side of the Houser Y behind the locker rooms.  This will allow members to access the new pool through the locker rooms and from the existing pool deck.  Because the air and water temperatures in the new pool will be higher than the existing pool, the new space will be separated from the current pool by glass doors. 

The new warm water pool at the Houser Y will be used for adult water exercise classes, parent and child swim lessons, and preschool swim lessons. This will open up additional time in our current pool for lap swim and open swim.

Yes, plans include a steam room and sauna to be constructed in the space behind the slide.  These spaces will be large, state of the art, co-ed, and easily accessible.

Have additional questions?

Face Covering Update


May 18, 2021

Effective May 18, 2021, the La Crosse Area Family YMCA will be implementing the new guidance issued recently by the CDC. As directed by the CDC, if you are fully vaccinated you can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic. 

Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19? 
  • You are welcome to remove your face covering. 
  • We trust that you will make the best decision regarding your own health and that you will follow our four Core Values of being Caring for others, Honest by being truthful in what we say and do, Respect by treating others how we’d like to be treated, and Responsibility by being accountable for your actions. 
Not Vaccinated Yet? We ask that you: 
  • Continue to wear a face-covering in all areas of the facility (this includes youth/teens 5 and older)
  • Social distance 6 feet apart from others
  • Consider getting a COVID-19 Vaccine
  • (Vaccine clinic hosted by the Y coming in June)
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer 
 Please note that:
  • Face-coverings are still required in all licensed child-care programs (child care center and school-age programs). 
  • Masks will continue to be required in the Healthy Living Center at the Dahl branch.
  • We will remain diligent on safety and cleaning protocols and will ask our members to continue to help us in this area.
  • Please note that these guidelines apply to YMCA employees as well. 

Lifesaver Award: Laura, Angie and Madisyn


A heroic effort by Laura, Angie and Madisyn

We are proud to recognize Madisyn Irwin, Laura Collins, and Angie Sonnefeld for their heroic efforts in saving Tim’s life.

“Every minute is about a 10% less chance that somebody’s going to walk out of a hospital and live a normal life thereafter. Tim Musch had four minutes. In those few minutes, three employees at the YMCA all worked together to save his life.”

Laura, Angie and Madisyn were awarded the “Lifesaver Award” yesterday by the City of La Crosse Fire Department.

Thank you WXOW and WKBT-TV for helping share this amazing story.

And thank you to the Fire Department for their quick response and supporting our Y team during this emergency.

2020 A Year in Review

When our community came to a grinding halt, our staff, members, and donors stepped up to help. We adapted to serve the community in new and meaningful ways, and we were able to do so because of your generosity.

We are proud of the work we were able to accomplish this year and want to take a moment to share our highlights with you. Enjoy!



111 youth learned and played in our full-time Child Care Center.
Our School-Age Care Program provided 1,450 youth with a safe and fun environment.
Y personal trainers led 2,600 personal training sessions to help individuals reach their wellness goals.
5,100 registrations for programs to help youth gain confidence in activities such as swim lessons, martial arts, gymnastics, sports, and dance.
Families checked into our Y Child Watch 10,500 times so they could focus on their health while their child laughed and played with other children their age.
28,000 people in our community, chose the Y as a place to lead a healthier lifestyle and connect with friends.
Y members checked into our group fitness classes 39,250 times.
From lap swimming to open swim to swim team, we had more than 75,000 visits to our pool this year.
Our Wellness Centers had more than 168,000 visits from Y members for their cardio or strength training workout.
More than $1.1 million was contributed to support our Y this year (COVID relief funding, grants, and donations from local businesses, foundations, and individuals).


YOU!!!!!! for re-opening and doing so in such a thoughtful way."

"I walk 3 miles every day and do Yoga and Strength video workouts. The Y taught me the power of staying active and exercising not just for my physical health (which is important) but also for my mental health and to keep a positive outlook during these times. Plus some of the women who I used to meet after exercise email and encourage one another. I miss them but would not have them in my life if it weren't for the Y. Thank you, Y and I hope to see you soon!!"

The Y saved my life.​

"I cannot thank you enough for providing child care to essential workers during the shutdown. As a parent, it has provided me such relief! I literally cried after dropping off my kids this morning, a cry of relief and knowing they were in great care in these uncertain times. I cannot wait to pick them up this afternoon and hear all about their day! A sincere thank you from the bottom of my heart!" -Carla

“A year ago, I found myself on the street. I thought, how can I live every day like this. I came to the Y because I wanted to feel like I was part of the community again. You have these little connections, these little miracles that you get to see and be part of when you’re here. It’s helped me transition back into the real world.” - Matt


The year 2020 brought clarity about what is most important: health, family, education, and human connections. At the Y, this is all possible. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your friendship, loyalty, and dedication to the Y and to our community. Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!
Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay hopeful,

Bill Soper

Amy Holte
Director of Development

If you would like to support the Y and help strengthen our community, please consider a donation today.

New Updates to Y Policies


November 20, 2020

Thank you for your continued support of the La Crosse Area Family YMCA. Since re-opening in June, we have truly appreciated that so many of you have continued your memberships, donations, and use of our facility.  At this point, the ability of our Y to remain open, and provide critical services depends directly on the behavior and actions of our staff and members working together. 

As you know, it has been a challenging eight months for our community, our neighbors, and our friends. In recent weeks, and with the significant rise in COVID cases in our community and our county, it is clear that we must all do more to help stop the spread. As an organization that has played an integral role in the health and well-being of our community for more than 137 years, we feel we must do more. Our community, our neighbors, and friends are important to us, and they are counting on us to do what’s right for our community.  

Effective on Monday, November 23rd, we will require masks at all times, in all locations, and without exception.  Effective Monday, we will require every Y member to comply with this new policy.
This policy change will be evaluated every thirty days and adjustments may be made based on changing community needs.

Exceptions while swimming, showering or getting a drink and children under 5.


  • Group Fitness Classes
  • Water Exercise
  • Cycling Classes (PIQ)
  • Racquetball
  • Family Pool (Houser)
  • Gym


  • Swimming Pool
  • Y Child Watch
  • Wellness Center

YMCA Facility Usage Policies:

  • No more reservations required for the Wellness Center. Come at any time. We will maintain a capacity of 30 members in the Dahl Wellness Center and 40 members in the Houser Wellness Center. Check in at the front desk gate when you arrive.
  • The overall one-hour time limit for visiting the Y will be removed. However, we still recommend that you limit your time at the Y but you are welcome to participate in multiple activities.
  • The time limit in Y Child Watch has been moved back to 2 hours. Please drop your child off when we are open and enjoy some “you” time at the Y.
  • In order to better manage the capacity of our gyms while allowing families and individuals use of the space, we will be returning to a reservation system on Monday, Nov. 23rd. Bring your own ball. Pick up games are not allowed at this time. A gym supervisor will be onsite during open gym times. Make a Reservation
  • Children ages 7-13 will be allowed to use the gymnasium during designated times while a parent or guardian is in the facility (parent can be working out in the Wellness Center but must remain in the facility). No reservation needed but a capacity total of 20 youth and adults will be maintained. Designated times can be found on our website by clicking the ‘reservation’ button (even though no reservation is needed). Teens ages 14 and older can continue to use the Y without a parent or guardian in the facility.
  • Singles (one-on-one) racquetball matches will be allowed. Please continue to reserve your court online. Reservations will be in 1-hour time increments for Court A and for Court B (to be labeled soon). Only 1 member needs to reserve a court. Both members should check in at the front desk gate.
  • Virtual Fitness at the Y will not require a reservation. Virtual Fitness at the Y will be on-demand with over 1,000 classes to choose from at your convenience.
  • Masks are still required for all members 5 years of age and older.
Since reopening on June 1, member safety has been our top priority. The decisions we have made since reopening have been carefully considered and discussed before implementation, including this decision. We’re trying to do our very best to balance the needs of our members, the safety of staff, the well-being of our community, and the financial sustainability of the Y, all while navigating through the various guidelines. As you can imagine, this pandemic has been financially devastating for our YMCA. We learned yesterday, that all YMCAs and all fitness facilities in Minnesota are being forced to close due to the pandemic. We feel fortunate that we are able to remain open but we know we must all work together to help our community and to keep our facility open.
Staying active is critical to a healthy spirit, mind, and body. There is strong evidence that physical exercise is one of the best ways to defend against the virus. In addition, the Y provides a safe place to reduce the impact of social isolation. Please work in partnership with us so we continue to serve our members.  In the coming weeks and months, we need the support of our members more than ever before. We want to thank you in advance for your cooperation and support with this policy change. 
Through good times and tough times, the Y has continued to provide essential services to all who need it. Your support is critical so that the Y can continue to impact our community today, tomorrow, and forever.
Warmest regards,
Bill Soper



Updates to Kids Tri, Maple Leaf and Walk with Warriors

Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 spread, and recommendations from the CDC, Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the La Crosse County Health Department, we have made changes to our 2020 special events.

The Kids Tri will not take place in 2020. This decision was not an easy one to make, as it offered a great opportunity for the kids and families to focus on staying active and healthy. We felt like this decision was for the greater good of our community, helping protect our vulnerable populations and healthcare workers.

The Maple Leaf Walk Run will be offered as a Virtual Event this year. The race will still offer the Kids Maple Mile Fun Run, 5K, 5 Mile and Half Marathon distance. A t-shirt will be given out to all participants (curb-side pickup at the Y or mailed) and a medal will be awarded to half marathon finishers. Registration prices will be adjusted accordingly and current registrants will be sent a separate email to manage their registration.

Walk with Warriors was hosted in early June as a Virtual walk. Due to the severity of the COVID-19, we will not be hosting an in-person Walk with Warriors this year. Thanks again to everyone who participated virtually!

As part of our mission and cause, we will continue to explore opportunities to keep our community active, connected and engaged. We strive each and every day to serve our community and make it a better place for all.
We look forward to offering this event in 2021.
-the Y

Summer Programs Return



Help your kids be active this summer. 🏃🏻 ☀️ 💦 🏃🏿‍♀️

Learn life-saving skills in swim lessons 🏊, meet new friends in soccer ⚽, gain confidence in gymnastics 🤸🏽 or have fun in the sun at outdoor day camp 🌞.

Registration begins Monday, July 13th. This will be a 5-week session beginning July 20th.

The safety of our participants and employees will be our top priority

For class dates, times and location, please visit our website:

Steps we’re taking to help keep your family safe:
☑ Reduced class sizes
☑ Additional time between classes for disinfecting and cleaning
☑ Daily temperature checks and screenings for Y staff

💻 Online registration opens at 5:00 AM
📞 Phone registration opens at 7:00 AM

*We will update our Y website and Facebook page with any changes as decisions are made throughout the upcoming weeks.

Reopening Our Facilities


YMCA Phase 1 Reopening: June 1st

Our staff and entire Y family are preparing and getting ready to reopen our Y’s under a new normal. YMCA Phase 1 Reopening will begin on Monday, June 1, 2020. As we make plans to see all of you again, we want to thank our wonderful members and donors who have stuck with us and supported the Y during this unprecedented time.
The support for the Y and our work in the community has been simply amazing. When this experience is in our rear-view mirror, we will look back with a sense of pride for the way the Y quickly responded to the critical needs in the community, and a sense of deep gratitude for those members and donors who supported us.  
We will be reopening in phases in order to keep our members and staff safe while adhering to guidelines from the CDC, our County Health Department, and the State of Wisconsin. We are working on finalizing the plans for the phased re-opening and we will be sharing those with our members in the coming days.
As we finalize these plans for the phases of our reopening, we want your feedback! I hope that you will take a couple of minutes to take the survey in this newsletter to let us know how you feel about our reopening and what we can do so you continue getting the most out of your YMCA membership.
We will continue reviewing these guidelines regularly and we will communicate reopening plans through email, our website, and social media. We cannot wait to see our members in our facilities again, and we know you can’t wait either!
Stay well, and see you soon.
Bill Soper

Free Supper Program by the Y

The YMCA will hand out suppers at 3 locations in a collaborative effort with the School District of La Crosse and the Boys and Girls Club.

La Crosse, WI April 15, 2020—The Y is stepping up to the plate. In response to a critical need in our community- feeding children, the Y will provide free ‘grab and go’ supper at three locations beginning on Wednesday, April 15th:

  • North Community Library (1552 Kane St) 4:00-4:20 pm

  • YMCA Community Teen Center (1105 King St) 4:30-5:00 pm

  • Poage Park (500 Hood St) 5:10-5:30 pm

This food program is similar to the Y’s Summer Food Service Program, serving meals to anyone 18 and under. The food provided will be a meal that can be reheated at home.  Meals will be served Monday-Saturday. Saturday’s distribution will include a meal for Saturday and Sunday. So weekends included!

Many children in our communities depend on meals they receive during the school day, but when school is out on weekends and school breaks they still need food.   Throughout the school year and summer months, the three partners work together to identify families and places in the community where there is a need to get food in the hands of children. Our current collaboration efforts during this unprecedented time are no different. The School District of La Crosse will be preparing the meals and the Y will be delivering and handing out the meals at the three sites.  The Boys and Girls Club has assisted in identifying locations and families and will be promoting the locations.  

For questions and information, please call 608-769-2946.

To support this program and additional emergency child care services, please consider a donation to the Y.


“This institution is an equal opportunity provider.”

COVID-19 Update


Dahl and Houser Y's to Close - Will Become School Age Childcare Sites

For over 137 years, the La Crosse Area Family YMCA has always been an organization that walked in the direction of a challenge. Today we must focus our resources on those who need us most during this unprecedented time.

As we share additional news and updates with you, you will continue to see that your Y is committed to being there for those who need us most and we ask you again to join us in the effort. We ask that you continue to invest in your membership so that we can maintain vital life-changing and life-saving programs in our community.  At this time, we invite you to join us in service to others needing our help. If you prefer to put your membership on hold, please contact us at [email protected] and we will do that for you, but we invite you to join us in service to others needing our help.  We know your membership is meaningful to you and that meaning lies in the relationships you have built at the Y. Those relationships are based upon how much you care about our community and want everyone to have the opportunity to thrive – no matter what our world is facing. Thank you in advance for joining us.

As we indicated yesterday, we are pivoting our resources to best support the most pressing needs in our community. We are aligning with our community partners to serve parents who must work including health care workers, first responders and “essential” employees protecting our community. These families need safe and reliable places for their children and we will be there for them.

Please note that due to updated recommendations from the CDC, Governor Evers, in concert with what most Wisconsin Y’s have decided, and in an effort to slow community spread, we have made the decision to close both Y facilities.  As of the end of business on Tuesday, March 17, both of our Y facilities will close to members so that we can repurpose our facilities in order to provide emergency school age childcare, in support of Governor Ever’s push for childcare, which is a critical community need during this time.  Additionally, childcare is exempted from the Governor’s orders. 

An important note about emergency childcare:  Emergency childcare is an absolutely essential service for our community.  We have received many amazing responses from our community regarding this service including donations to support this critical service.  While it would be ideal if every parent was able to stay home and shelter in place, it is simply impossible.  Many families in our area must work.  They are employed by hospitals, they stock your groceries, they are doctors, nurses, and the important people who support local medical teams.  Many of these people have children who deserve to be in safe care while their parents provide these critical community services. 

The YMCA is planning emergency childcare for approximately 200 children.  The local school districts serve approximately 16,000 students in total, so the community can assume that the vast majority of children have other options.  The Y is here to serve the group that does not have other safe options.  In preparation for offering emergency childcare, our experienced and professional staff are taking serious and appropriate precautions:

  • Health aides on site during drop-off to screen children and staff.
  • Small groups of students spread out in our Ys.
  • Parents will drop off and pick up children in the entrance area in an effort to limit movement throughout the facility.
  • Children will be monitored throughout the day for symptoms.
  • All CDC recommendations are being followed.
  • Our staff team for this critical service, are not in the group of compromised individuals (due to age and health history).
  • Of course, if mandated by the County Health Department or the State of Wisconsin, we will close down these programs.

We plan to restore full operations at both Y’s as soon as we are able.  Of course, we will continue to make day to day decisions as we receive updates from the La Crosse County Health Department, the YMCA of the USA, Governor Evers, and the CDC.  Please visit our YMCA website at

Finally, to support your health and wellbeing goals we are offering Y360, an exciting new YMCA on-demand fitness program for adults and kids to do at home. You and your family can exercise together and have some fitness fun! You can access it today at Y360 On-Demand. Also, for your wellbeing and mental health, watch for Mindful Minutes from Sarah Johnson, our Mental Health Director.

In the meantime, we invite you to join us in service to others needing our help through your continued membership.  Again, if you prefer to put your membership on hold until operations are restored, please contact us and we will do that for you, but we invite you to join us in service to others needing our help.  Thank you for your support as we work diligently to ensure the health and safety of our community.

Best regards,
Bill Soper