The YMCA, Ensuring a Brighter Future

Joe Zwickey & Kailyn Danhouser

Hard Working Man


Joe Zwickey is a motivated man with a dry sense of humor. Like so many of us, he’s a busy individual who works multiple jobs, hangs out with friends, works on hobbies, and he used to manage high school football and basketball teams for four years. With everything on his plate, Joe still squeezes in his workouts at the YMCA three times a week.


Encouraged by his friends, Joe began coming to the YMCA a couple years ago. Now, he incorporates a mix of strength and cardio routines throughout his week, including squats, planks, and throw downs.


Joe started working with personal trainer, Kailyn Danhouser, about four months ago. The pair meets once a week, and they have already seen improvement physically, structurally, as well as in Joe’s attitude.


When asked if working with his trainer makes exercise more fun, Joe responds sarcastically with “not really,” making the whole room laugh.


“I’m kind of tough on him,” says Kailyn, who pushes him with mixed routines to create muscle memory, correct form, and grow strength.


It’s clear the two celebrate throughout the workout too, though. “Joe likes to dance. We play a lot of 80s music here,” says Kailyn. After finishing his reps on the bench press, Joe shows off a few of his dance moves.


“Kailyn motivates me at times,” he admits, “but I mostly do it for me.”


Joe has goals to volunteer with nonprofits and be a role model for people in the special needs community. “I kind of want a statue of me,” he says, causing more laughter. “I want to help others, help my friends, and be able to give back.”


Joe works for the City of La Crosse recycling yard waste and at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse helping prep food at the sub shop. He’s also started his own business carving hiking and walking sticks, a completely self-taught skill.


He wants people to know, “I’m a family man, a good person, doing good works for my community in La Crosse. The real reason I come down here to the Y and to La Crosse, cause I’m originally from Trempealeau County, is that they don’t have the necessary stuff you guys have down here for people with special needs. I want to give back to them.”


Joe Zwickey is a blue collar guy who tells it like it is, and genuinely wants to do good for his community. He doesn’t have a favorite exercise, and admits to enjoying watching sports more than playing them. He knows how workouts can be challenging, but that in order to see results, you’ve got to keep doing them. As Joe says, “That’s the truth, man.”


He likes to watch World Wrestling Entertainment, and asks Kailyn if their next workout can incorporate some wrestling moves.


“We can do some slam balls,” she says, and Joe smiles.


Joe says coming to the Y has “helped me lose a lot of weight, stay fit, and make friends. It helps me get rid of a lot of stress.”


Despite his busy schedule, Joe keeps working out. He’s a groomsman in a cousin’s wedding next summer and in addition to all his other goals, he wants to look good in his suit.


Jess Witkins, writer and producer, Witkins Productions LLC