Swimming at the Y Keeps Him Pain- and Medicine-Free
Conrad Page sheepishly admits he's "slowed down" in recent years, but it isn't easy to believe him when he shares the exercise routine he's just completed at the YMCA-North Branch in Onalaska. Page's friendly face sports a healthy flush following his workout, which began with his 1.5 mile walk from his home to the Y. Then he hit the swimming pool, where he swam 2.5 miles at a steady pace for 1.5 hours. His routine always includes strength training. After his laps, usually swimming freestyle and side strokes, he'll use the diving blocks for upper body conditioning. The walk back to his house completes his exercise routine. The bitter cold this past winter forced him to drive to the Y, but he made up the miles on the indoor track in the Wellness Center.
Taking the advice of his wife, Flo, he joined YMCA-North Branch about three years ago to maintain his excellent health. Flo is active at the Y, where she takes water exercise classes and spends time with good friends. The 70-year-old Conrad says it's been more than three years since having his first and only major surgery to replace his hip. Swimming helped him to recover more quickly from surgery. He suffered from back pain for several decades as well. Swimming, along with strengthening and conditioning exercises, has helped him to become free from chronic pain. "My back is the best it's been since I've been in my 20s," he says.
It's easier to understand how he's slowed down when he compares his life before surgery to now. Conrad regularly ran several miles a day, but today he looks enviously at runners. Still, the pool brings him much consolation. He's even been known to share a few helpful tips for swimming when other Y members in the pool have asked him. He enjoys the YMCA-North: "I like the people. Everyone is always very friendly. You get offered fresh towels for swimming every day," Conrad says. "I always joke with the staff when I check in that they know me on a first name basis, but they see my name on my membership card."
Remaining pain-free gives him motivation to keep exercising, especially at a time when he knows many who suffer from daily aches and pains. He's grateful that he takes no medication and wants to keep it that way. His weakness is a sweet tooth. "I will always take a second piece of birthday cake or pie, if I am offered it," says Conrad with a smile, knowing he'll exercise more to burn extra calories. In recent years, he lost 50 pounds, going from 180 pounds to his current trim 130 pounds. With three children and six grandchildren, he celebrates a lot of birthdays. Conrad describes himself professionally as "semi-retired," which gives him more time for his family and activities. He and his wife will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this summer.
Conrad worked in downtown La Crosse during the 1970s at several large department stores, including Sears and Doerflinger's. He recalls having an "early bird" YMCA membership, allowing him to exercise between 5:30 and 8 a.m. before his job. Most of his professional life, however, was spent as an entrepreneur running his own business, Pages Furniture Repair. He still works on projects for many customers. Going to the Y is part of his active lifestyle, instilled in him since he's been a young child who was born and raised in Onalaska. "This is home for me," says Conrad, a 1961 graduate of Onalaska High School. "This is where I hunt, fish, spend time on the river - and go to the Y."
- By Kim Seidel, Seidel Ink LLC. 2014