Pioneering Healthier Communities

Our Mission: Influence and empower all families in Marshall County Iowa to choose healthier lifestyle.

The reason: overweight and under-activity have been identified as two of the county's most pressing health issues.

The consequences: there are elevated rates of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. And more of it is being observed in children.

Success Stories



My name is Russ Fisher and my journey to wellness started almost four years ago when my wife Janet decided to quit smoking.  We had both been smokers since we were teenagers and I couldn’t imagine myself not being a smoker.  I didn’t quit right away when she did, but a few months later convinced myself to check with my doctor about some help with this task, and he wrote a prescription to help me kick the habit and it worked! I felt great, better than I had in years.  From there, I started taking long walks and lifting weights with a friend. The problem was the food was tasting so good from not smoking anymore, that I ate all the time, so all of the positive affects from the extra exercise weren’t shedding the pounds. I began to get discouraged.  One night after dinner my wife asked me if I had enjoyed the meal.  I said yes, and she smiled and told me she had swapped the beef out for ground turkey.  This was a light bulb moment like none I had ever had.  We started replacing all kinds of foods. I ate rice cakes instead of chips and baked foods instead of fried.  The list goes on and on, but it worked.

When I hit a weight loss plateau I decided to kick it up a notch and purchased a family membership to the Community Y.  Now, not only was I losing weight, but so was the entire family.  I used to use my free time to sit around watching TV and eating, and now I spend it working out at the Y.  I feel great and I have lost a little over 100 pounds.  The number feels great to hear but the weight that has been lifted off my shoulders feels even better.

Here’s to eating smarter, moving more, and living well! 




I had allowed myself to get very fat and out of shape.  I poured all my energy into my job, but neglected my health completely.  I looked old and fat, felt tired and achy, and slept poorly.  I had high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and no energy.  The worst was that I felt terrible about myself.  I was so out of shape I was ashamed to even go to the Y!

A wellness ad on TV really hit home.  A woman my age is shown getting ready to go out.  She is excited to answer the door – and there on the step is her grandson!  He was the one she wanted to live well for.  Wow.  That made me realize if I wanted to be around to enjoy my grandkids, I better start taking better care of myself.  I got up the courage to come to the Y.

I started to work out at the Y (and in the beginning it was a struggle) and began a healthy diet, losing 55 pounds the first year.  I moved from 20 minutes on the treadmill to lifting  weights and balance exercises.  Now I work with my trainer on a variety of equipment at the Y, or swim.  I have the energy to golf and play tennis.  What fun to be able to run around and have fun playing!  I have since lost another 20 pounds.  I am strong and just feel wonderful.


Getting into shape has made a world of difference in my health, my mood, my outlook, and my mental state.  My kids are proud of me, my friends say nice things, and people who haven’t seen me for a while don’t recognize me!

My mantra for not falling back is a quote from another gal I know who has lost a lot of weight.  “Exercising and eating right are not nearly as hard as being fat.”  Amen.

-Judy Lindholm


I am reminded frequently that my story is a bit like the “Rocky Balboa” story, so I will share it with you with the hope to inspire you as Rocky did.  2009 was my year to change.  After marrying my wife, Adrienne, I moved to Marshalltown from New York City.  My wife is from Marshalltown, and she told me about the Community Y, and she hinted that I could benefit by joining the "Y".  I was middle-aged, significantly overweight, and I had never even seen the inside of a health and wellness facility before, but I decided to try it.  I talked to the staff and read much of their available material regarding training and proper nutrition.  I started eating healthy and weight training on a regular basis.  Within just a few weeks, I started noticing significant changes - my clothes were looser and I was actually stronger.  These changes, along with my wife's enthusiastic support, gave me the incentive to continue my journey to fitness. I am enrolled in the Boxing class at the Y, and we put on hand wraps and real boxing gloves and actually do punching of bags (again like Rocky).  Today I am 45 pounds lighter and in the best shape of my life!  My advice to anyone trying to get healthier and stronger is to pick a start date, start a program, and commit to it.  Keep a journal of your training and diet routine, and have a coach or significant other for encouragement (just like Rocky did). I am truly grateful to the Marshalltown Y (and my wife) for providing me with the tools and confidence I needed to make the transformation to a healthier me!

-          Tony DiPaolo



Ten years ago I was a heavy smoker, overweight and beginning to have health issues.  I couldn’t walk through my house without being out of breath.  I was in terrible shape, so I decided to quit smoking to improve my health.  As a result I gained more weight, which led to health concerns. 

About five years ago I went to the doctor and stepped on the scale there and I weighed  285 pounds.  My blood pressure was dangerously high as well.  My examining nurse told me if I didn’t get my blood pressure under control I was headed for a stroke or a heart attack.  That day really scared me, but I had no idea where to begin to get my health back on track.  Over a period of a couple years filled with doctor visits I was diagnosed with having high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, a fatty liver and high iron in my blood.  I was on four different medications for the high blood pressure and diabetes. 

I decided to start exercising, by walking and lifting weights at home.  The weight slowly started coming off.  I changed my diet a little, but more needed to be done. I hated exercising at first because I had never done it.  I desperately tried many different diets, some of which were not that good for me, in an effort to lose the weight.  After time, my daily diet improved more and more.  Finally, I found a diet with proper nutrition and the the exercise gradually became easier and more enjoyable.  I started working out at the Community Y and found some good workout buddies.  It was then that I started seeing good results. 

I now weigh 175 pounds.  I exercise 6 days a week now and look forward to my work outs.  My blood pressure is now normal and I have no problems with my diabetes.  My other health concerns are all gone.  I am no longer on any medications.  I am feeling FANTASTIC!  Part of my success was due to setting goals and sticking to them.  “If you want it bad enough, you can achieve it.”

-Robin Weidner




Have you ever heard the phrase "a spark starts a fire?"  For me it is definitely true. I started my journey of a healthier lifestyle a few years ago with the simple act of taking an enjoyable, 20-minute walk.  Over the past two years, I have progressed to jogging 5ks, participating in Zumba fitness classes and weight lifting.  I've even participated in events such as the Living History Farms 7 Mile XC Run and the Dam to Dam 20k, and look forward to the Des Moines Half Marathon this October.  My advice to anyone new to exercise is to start off slowly and gradually build up to a level that you would be happy to maintain throughout your life – but don't forget to challenge yourself and find ways to keep up your motivation!  Physical activity has made me a happier, more balanced person who is now better able to balance a busy life.

-Sara Pickett


I joined Healthy U (a total health and wellness program) at the Community Y because my doctor advised me to see a dietitian for some personal health issues. After joining the program, the dietitian (Chris Jacobson) helped me to discover a vast amount of nutritional information on how to make healthy food choices and how to make simple changes in my eating habits. Simple changes like eating breakfast each day have contributed to feeling better overall. The balanced approach of Healthy U not only promotes healthier eating habits, but also the importance of combining cardio exercise along with weight training. Fitness staff helped me to vary my workouts, and to include interval training and heavier weights. Each week is filled with helpful nutritional information, different recipes and a suggested workout plan. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone who wants to feel better by making a few simple lifestyle changes. The results are worth it!

-Julie Randall