The YMCA, Ensuring a Brighter Future

Y Board Member Barb Saathoff

Growing Stronger with the Help of

Y Trainers, Staff & Friends Following Surgeries


      Watching Barb Saathoff move confidently, smiling, laughing, and greeting her many friends at the La Crosse Area Family YMCA North Branch, one wouldn’t guess she’s recently recovered from knee and hip surgeries. At age 60, another thing one wouldn’t guess, Barb credits the Y, its welcoming staff, and its amazing personal trainers for her continued success. She stays strong physically and mentally with the organization that’s always been a part of her life. When she needed the Y, it was there for her. In turn, she shares her time with the Y in countless ways.  As her hip caused her more frequent pain about four years ago, Barb, who has always kept an active lifestyle, knew she needed to step up her fitness routine. “It was the sense that if I couldn’t take care of myself, I wasn’t going to be able to serve others,” she says. Barb and her husband Richard have been married 37 years, and they have two grown sons. She’s an attorney for Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare. She also greatly enjoys serving on the YMCA board since spring, 2015. “It’s so rewarding to give back to the Y and to serve on the Y board,” Barb says. “I want to give back to the Y because it’s given so much to me.”


      To prepare for hip replacement surgery, she began taking water aerobics classes and met Jamie Arndt, a Y instructor and now personal trainer who made a tremendous impact. Jamie encouraged Barb to continue water aerobics after surgery and now she does personal training in the water with Jamie. Barb appreciates the high-intensity of aquatic training, without the impact on her joints. She pushes Barb physically to meet her needs and to get stronger. Jamie also recommended that Barb begin strength training at the Y with Christopher Matt, and she has done so now for about two years. “I was excited and scared at the same time when I first started,” Barb says. “I didn’t know what it was going to be like. It’s great working with Christopher, who is an outstanding person and personal trainer. He has helped me achieve goals I didn’t believe were possible.” Barb credits Christopher and Jamie with the fact that she’s maintained her active lifestyle and recovered quickly from her joint replacement surgeries. “My physical therapist says I’ve made a remarkable recovery from knee surgery; it’s been off the charts,” Barb says. “I did not want my hip and knee surgeries to stop me. Nine weeks after my knee replacement, I’m doing squats and dead lifts again. I don’t want to miss out on all the aspects of my life that I really enjoy.”


      Barb realizes after surgeries and illnesses many people become isolated, and she didn’t want that to happen to her. It’s hard to imagine loneliness overtaking this energetic, friendly person, who is often stopped by her friends at the Y. “I would miss these people too much, if I didn’t come to the Y,” she says. “This is a whole unexpected benefit of being part of the Y. I have made friends for life.” Along with working out about five nights a week, she volunteered last year for two of the Y’s most popular fundraising events, Got Energy Triathlon and Rockin’ the Docks. She looks forward to doing so again this year. Barb also participated for the first time last year in the Y’s Annual Campaign on Christopher Matt’s team. “Amy Holte, Y mission advancement director, certainly helped inspire us to our success of being the first-place team to obtain numbers of donors to the Y,” Barb says. “I love to the tell Y story. It has been transformational for me. You just need to look at all the good the Y does for the community. I want to continue to give to the Y, because it will always be here for me and the community.”

~ By Kim Seidel, Seidel Ink LLC