Need More information about the YMCA? Hear what local health advocates have to say.

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Northfield hasn't had a YMCA since the late 1800s.  We're working to help community members better understand what a YMCA is and can be for our community. In a series of articles called “There’s a Y in Everyone”, this focus is on healthy living. Interviews with local professionals in the area of health and wellness for this article include: Gretchen Ehresmann, MD, Family Practice at Allina Health Clinic; John Noack, DDS, Professional Drive Dental, Northfield; Andrea Hoff, Physical Therapist at the Center for Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation, Northfield; and Patrick Neily, General Manager of Just Food Co-op, Northfield.  

There’s a ‘Y’ in healthy living” ran in the Northfield News on Saturday, January 11; go here to read the brief column. The full article is below. 

There’s a Y in Healthy Living

As we move into 2014, health is on the forefront of many people’s minds – the challenge being finding the time to take care ourselves in a busy world. Maintaining good health is important because it affects so many areas in our lives. Yet national statistics indicate only one in three children are physically active during the day, and a child, on average, will spend more than seven and a half hours in front of a screen on any given day. In addition, less than five percent of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day.*

For many reasons, according to some of our local health and wellness professionals, the Northfield Area YMCA couldn’t come at a better time.

Research for the new YMCA started several years ago. In 2005 and in 2007, the Northfield Area YMCA conducted an official needs assessment to determine areas where the Northfield community could benefit most from Y programs and services. The results of these studies set the course of development for new partnerships, programs and services.

“I am impressed that the Y board looked carefully at the current needs of the community and the organizations that already exist to serve those needs,” said Dr. Gretchen Ehresmann, family practice at Allina Clinic. “They then assessed how to fill the gaps.”

Indeed there are strong indicators pointing toward a healthy movement in our area, according to the feedback gathered; in fact, so much so, it deemed a community center be built.

“Organizations like the Y are important components for healthy communities,” said Patrick Neily, general manager of Just Food Co-op. “The Y’s impact is through education, activities and engagement resources, and the more resources available to the community, the better!”

The YMCA’s programing reaches the masses in a new way. According to Andrea Hoff, physical therapist at the Center for Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (CSMR), “The Y will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the overall physical health of our community. Currently, there are many who do not have access to a center for wellness/fitness – perhaps due to cost, lack of childcare or other barriers. The Y has the capacity to reach out to these folks.  While the Y is truly for everyone, it is unique in that it provides a place for not just adults but for families to exercise together.”

As the Y has now entered into a public phase of fundraising for the new facility, it continues to address the needs of the public in its design for functionality and amenities that will serve the people in the area for many years to come. It also takes into account what funds are actually available to pursue those goals. “Ultimately, now is the time to donate to help build the YMCA people want,” said Virginia Kaczmarek, executive director of the Northfield Area YMCA.

“The Y is already offering programming from toddlers to senior citizens, but it needs a permanent home,” said Dr. John Noack at Professional Drive Dental. “It will be for everyone, but I think it will have the greatest impact on Northfield families. It will be an inclusive place that will allow you to connect with others, provide a year-round gathering space, allow you to improve and maintain health, and just have fun. It will also allow new families an easier connection with one another and it will place an overlying emphasis that physical and mental well being is a value that Northfielders hold high.”

The Y will become a resource for healthy living. “Exercise is a keystone of the rehab process,” said Hoff at CSMR.  “I am excited for the YMCA to open up, because as a continuation of their personal rehab, my clients need a place to continue exercising on their own.”

According to Dr. Gretchen Ehresmann of Allina Clinic, “The Y will be a great partner for me as a physician. I can refer people to the programs that the Y offers and know that a person will be able to access that programming.  The Y can, in one facility, serve our diverse population such as pre-diabetes education to open gym time.”

“By contributing to the YMCA’s Capital Campaign, you’re making an investment in your community’s health,” said Neily of Just Food Co-op. “The return on your investment will be the opportunities that the Y provides for generations to come.”

For a full Q&A of each health and wellness professional, go to To find out more about how you can contribute to the YMCA building project, go to Sign up for a membership today at

* Data sources are listed on the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition’s website at