The YMCA, Ensuring a Brighter Future

Phil Uehling

Y provides senior with an active daily routine


At 85-years-old Phil Uehling loves to compare going to the Onalaska Y every week day morning to the responsibility of holding a career. “It’s like having a job but you don’t get paid for it,” says Phil, with his gentle manner. He gives a smile when he shares how much he enjoys his daily routine at the Y.


He arrives at 7:15 a.m. and warms up on the track upstairs in the Wellness Center. He’ll accomplish a dozen or so chin-ups and then sit-ups on the exercise equipment. The Y has enabled Phil to maintain his flexibility and his strength. Phil shares that he didn’t routinely begin an exercise program until age 67; but ever since then, he’s been hooked and remains consistent with his physical activities.


On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, he heads back downstairs for the Senior Shape-Up class with other members at 7:45 a.m. Following the 45-minute program, which includes a challenging amount of chair and floor exercises, he takes a break for coffee with friends. Socializing is definitely a part of his healthy regime. He doesn’t stop there. After his social time, he returns to the Wellness Center for some additional exercises on the weight machines about three days a week. The other two days a week, he engages in extra cardio work, such as walking on the treadmill or the track, or taking a Cruisin’ Cycling spinning class.


By 11 a.m. he’s ready for a shower. Before he returns to his home in Onalaska, where he’s lived all of his life, he meets a friend for more coffee and his last round of socializing in the Y lobby. Whether it’s sharing a cup of coffee, playing cards, or working out together, fellowship is important at the Y. Did you know older members can attend a Senior Potluck at the North branch or a Breakfast Club at the La Crosse Y?


“It’s a very profitable way to spend your time by coming to the Y,” says Phil, who has been a Y member since 2008. “It helps your body to stay healthy and it helps your mind to socialize with others. It’s way better than watching TV.”


While Phil will be the first to admit how much he loves his routine, that doesn’t keep him from trying a variety of classes at the Y for seniors, such as yoga and cycling. He isn’t shy to participate in group exercises programs. Senior members are encouraged to participate in an array of fitness and wellness activities, all under the guidance of caring, supportive, and knowledgeable staff. Active Older Adults classes at the Y also include water exercise, and Zumba Gold. The sessions accommodate a wide range of interests and functional abilities of senior members. “You just can’t depend on one thing to keep you coming here. It’s the variety that keeps you interested,” Phil remarks. “As they say, ‘Variety is the spice of life.’”


Phil worked at Trane Company for many years, before retiring in 1988. His hobbies in amateur radio, and training golden retrievers, also have kept him busy, along with coming to the Y.  Phil is married, and his wife has been known to join Phil at the Y on occasion. He has three children, six grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. He appreciates his family, and he “appreciates everyone here at the Y. Everyone is so friendly and helpful,” Phil says. “I appreciate that the Y is here in Onalaska,”

– by Kim Seidel, Seidel Ink LLC