The YMCA, Ensuring a Brighter Future

Dave Grieve

Y Puts Him On the Road to a Healthy Lifestyle

Dave Grieve describes the Y as his "vitamin pill." Like a nutritional supplement, the Y has improved his strength, endurance, and overall health and appearance since he joined three years ago. Yet Dave's story is more complex and inspiring than a vitamin.


When he was 58, doctors told him he was a "walking time bomb" with two blockages in his heart. Some minior chest pains after he ate were his only clue. He also had high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. He underwent non-invasive open heart surgery, which brought a typical several months' recovery time down to less than four weeks. Although he went back to work, he felt determined to not return to unhealthy habits.


It's always easier said than done. One of Dave's biggest challenges is working the night shift, which can wreak havoc on keeping a normal, wholesome schedule, including eating and sleeping well. Joining the Y placed him on the road to recovery by providing some consistency. "When I'm not at work, I am here at the Y," Dave says. Each step he took brought Dave, at age 61, closer to completing three triathlons in the summer of 2013.


He recalls his first experience at the YMCA-La Crosse Branch with enthusiasm and gratitude: It has a whirlpool! A sauna! Towels! Fresh coffee and the newspaper! He expressed excitement about the raquetball court, which he enjoyed playing with a friend. "The Y is such a good fit for me," he says. Dave became involved in classes slowly. "It was a growing process," he says. He started boot camp and loves the variety. When he initially pushed himself too hard and pulled a muscle or two, he told himself that he was no longer trying to keep up with younger members. He would exercise at his own pace. "Do what you can do. Don't let other people distract you," Dave advises. "You will get stronger and stronger. Start working out and enjoy it. Don't make it a job."


His discomfort with swimming was another obstacle he wanted to overcome. Swimming was difficult for him. When he accomplished nine laps - a quarter mile - about a year ago, he felt confident enough to consider the Y's annual triathlon. He was biking in spinning class and running three miles on the treadmill, in addition to lifting weights. A big part of him felt ready for the event. The day of his first triathlon at West Salem in June brought unseasonably cool temperatures. When he looked out at Lake Neshonoc, where he was to swim, he panicked. "I didn't think I could do it, and then I relaxed," he says. "I just wanted to get it done." He did it! He completed the biking and running portion as well. His training paid off, and he went on to participate in Viroqua's triathlon in July. Once an avid motorcyle rider, Dave says he would usually attend a large rally in August. It happened to fall on the same dates as the Portage triathlon. When Dave told a friend that he was competing in a triathlon, he was surprised but supportive.


Dave has received a lot of encouragement along his road to healthier lifestyle. Another friend gave him a Bianchi road bike this summer, just in time for his third contest. The new bike made a remarkable difference in Dave's ride time compared to his older bicycle. Dave also appreciates the scholarship he receives from the Y to make a membership fit into his budget. "I am thankful for the Y," Dave says. "It's been great for me."


- By Kim Seidel, Seidel Ink LLC. 2013