The YMCA, Ensuring a Brighter Future

The Yusten Family

Parents Role Model Healthy Living


      Listening to their kids share the lists of Y activities they’ve participated in, Jason and Amanda Yusten agree the opportunities are amazing. “It’s great because they can try out so many different things, and it’s all under one roof,” says Amanda, mother of four children, ages 3, 6, 10, and 12. The Yusten family joined the Y about eight years ago when they returned to the La Crosse area. While each child enjoys their favorite classes at either the Y’s Main Branch or North Branch, their smiles grow biggest when they talk about the family activities, including the Maple Mile, the Turkey Trot, Rudolph’s Dash, and the Daddy-Daughter Dance for Annabelle and Jason, a physics teacher at Holmen High School. They laugh and recall how much fun they experienced in Family Zumba. They also enjoy the Prime Time Center, the pool’s waterslide, and the Family Fun Center.


      Their Y interests diverge when Annabelle enjoys piano and tap dance. Her brother Ethan also likes tap, along with basketball, flag football, baseball, and soccer. These two older siblings have taken log rolling and cooking classes. Owen is going to play flag football for the first time this fall. Each child has benefitted from Y swim lessons and various arts and crafts sessions, from jewelry making to guitar playing. The youngest child Emmitt especially likes open gym time to play basketball; he’ll continue parent-child classes, such as basketball and baseball, as his older siblings have done.


      Like all parents, Jason and Amanda are their kids’ main role models, and it’s easy to see why they’re active. Amanda has taken adult tap dance, women on weights, and other group classes and likes the camaraderie. When her kids are busy at the Y, Amanda gladly uses this “down time” to prepare homeschool studies. The Yustens are committed to healthy living, and Jason even experienced a major physical and mental transformation in recent years.  “A few years ago, I was in the worst shape of my life,” Jason says. “It was following knee surgery, and I was having a lot of complications. I kept saying I wanted to be in better shape.” His words turned into action when Amanda brought him a challenging exercise DVD. He began to believe he could become more physically fit. He used the Y’s Wellness Centers and pools to push himself into newfound strength and discipline. A turning point for Jason occurred swimming one-quarter of a mile, when just three months before, he could only swim three lengths of the pool. The quarter mile swim represented one-third of a triathlon, and he seriously began to train for his first race, Tri-Rock in Lake Geneva. As his family cheered him on, he completed his first major contest. Jason stayed motivated and went on to finish a second triathlon. During this time, he lost 50 pounds and since then, he’s maintained a healthy body weight.


      Along with supporting Y activities, Amanda improved her family’s health through their diets. She planned menus to include more fruits and vegetables and fewer foods with refined sugars and high fats. “We eat a lot of our meals at these tables,” she says of the Y lobbies. The Yustens can be found at the Y about five days a week. They express their appreciation for both facilities and the many friendly and helpful staff members. Jason and Amanda, who met as students at UW-La Crosse and have been married for 15 years, entered unchartered waters when they joined the Y’s Annual Campaign. “Our kids enjoy their time here, and if we can help other kids have a great experience at the Y, that makes us feel we’re giving back,” Jason says. The circle of caring and sharing at the Y continues with such dedicated members and role models.

~ by Kim Seidel, Seidel Ink LLC