Tag Archives: health

Member Spotlight: Susan McBride

9 Aug
Susan has lived in Asheville for 16 years and has been a YWCA member on and off much of that time. With a little motivation and support from our LiveFit pilot program – Susan is back!
What brought you to YW originally? I wanted a quiet, clean work out space. I had joined the YMCA when I first moved here. Honestly, the YMCA had too much “M” for me. Guys would be working out on the weights, letting them drop, lots of grunting and groaning. Macho peacock displays of toughness weren’t something I was craving. Also, there would be folks waiting for the machines with impatience. I’m not sure if it’s still like that now. The YWCA health and Fitness Center was more appealing to me. The gym is clean and I rarely have to wait for a machine. The staff is kind, welcoming and helpful. There’s a broad range of people who use the gym and lots of little kids coming and going. It’s a lively, happy place. The group fitness studio used for yoga and other classes is also very nice.
How did you get involved with LiveFit? Out of the blue, I was contacted to be part of the pilot program. At first, I thought it was a promotional call, but it was a real offer to be part of something I was greatly in need of doing.
Tell us a little about your LiveFit experience:  I was looking to get back into a healthful routine after years of stressful work and family situations involving caregiving. I had fallen away from taking good care of myself, stress was ruling my world. Working out for me was a walk to the grocery store to get ice cream or wine. I was demoralized at being out of shape and overweight again – and the only person who could change that was exhausted, depressed me. Being part of this group was a gentle way to motivate into a more healthy routine, including good nutrition advice and support in exercising in many different ways.
Have you met any health & fitness goals yet? I have committed to working out 3 times a week and I’m sticking with that for the most part. I am also eating more healthy food. I’m a work in progress. (Aren’t we all?!)
What are your future goals? I want to do strength training and get comfortable with more equipment in the gym by working with a YW personal trainer – hopefully with Fran [who was an instructor with the LiveFit program.]
Who inspires you? People who are older than me, who are in great shape, quietly and humbly doing their thing in the gym. People who are ill, but continue to come to the gym and do their workouts. I am inspired by the staff as well. It’s good to see them working out too.
Favorite workout/class/machine:  The elliptical is a good cardio workout and easy on the knees. I also like the rowing machine and free weights.
What else do you like most about the YW? I love the childcare program. My daughter did an internship when she was a junior in high school and had an amazing experience caring for infants and learning about community outreach. I like to stop by and see the babies sometimes. They are so loved at the YWCA childcare center. I also love the officer who takes care of everybody at the YW. (That would be the one and only, Charlton Owens!) He tells folks to “get the car in gear and drive it like they stole it!” Then gives a military salute. He makes me laugh, he’s a great person.
Anything else you would like to share? Thank you for reaching out to me. The personal phone call to be part of the LiveFit pilot program was out of the ordinary and got my attention. Talking to real people about taking care of myself has been a gift!

Spotlight On: Melinda Aponte, Nutrition Coordinator

5 May


Our Staff Spotlight features Melinda Aponte, Nutrition Coordinator. Melinda brings a rich culinary background and a New York state of mind to the YWCA team. Here is more about Melinda:Melinda

How Long have you lived in Asheville? My husband and I moved to Asheville last May from Brooklyn, NY.

How long have you been at the YWCA? I started at the YWCA in February of this year, as the Kitchen Manager, and became the Nutrition Coordinator officially in March. My background is in culinary, and in this position I’m able to try different aspects outside of the kitchen, providing nutritional and health education opportunities. I’m thankful to the YW for giving me the opportunity to grow, and it speaks a lot about this organization.

Favorite thing(s) about the YWCA? One of my favorite things is how the YWCA truly lives up to its mission – how everyone here is working toward eliminating racism and empowering women. I get the opportunity to teach children how to eat healthy at a young age, so they have the tools to be better adults. That’s a great feeling. All the staff here are great, and there’s always someone to give you a helping hand. It’s truly a community here. 

What do you like to do in your spare time? I’ve been hiking a lot, and I love it! I never was a nature person living in the city, but since moving here I have a new-found appreciation for nature. My five-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, Cody, loves it too! 

People would be surprised if they knew I…  put on Spanish music every night, Salsa and Merengue, and just dance to it. It’s a form of meditation for me! It helps with stress and to feel better about everything. 

To learn more about the YWCA and ways to get involved visit our website, or call us at 828-254-7206. 

Diabetes Wellness and Prevention Cooking Demo

22 Feb

By Leah Berger-Singer, Preventive Health Coordinator

As you walked through the hallways of the YWCA on February 11th, you might have smelled something that reminded you of your family’s cooking – the smell of garlic and onion sizzling in a pan of olive oil. The delicious smell was coming from the Multipurpose Room where twelve participants from the Diabetes Wellness and Prevention program gathered for a Cooking Demonstration led by Cathy Hohenstein, Registered Dietitian for NC Cooperative Extension, and her Intern Clara.

126Before the program began, we chopped and peeled vegetables to prep for the Turkey Chili and White Bean Soup that would be served to the group. As participants arrived to the Cooking Demo, they were given handouts on a variety of topics related to soups and chili ranging from ways to soak and cook dried beans to a list of healthy soup toppings. Next, participants were given a sample of both the Turkey Chili and White Bean Soup and were even able to try some of those healthy soup toppings, such as Greek yogurt, cilantro, jalapeno, and green onion.

Cathy explained the health benefits of using soaked beans for soup recipes rather than canned beans (no sodium or preservatives!) and provided different techniques and prep options. Gene Collington, Diabetes Wellness and Prevention participant, said, “I enjoyed it because it shows you what you can do with beans. You can make beans in different ways other than just dried or cooked beans.” Cathy also gave other helpful kitchen tips. Did you know you can make a broth just by boiling vegetables?

127Throughout the Cooking Demo, Cathy showed participants how to make the White Bean Soup step-by-step. Participants were delighted to watch her make something as healthy, fresh and delicious as this soup was. Walter Robertson, Diabetes Wellness and Prevention participant, said, “The structure of the class was very well put together. It was informative, informal, and a relaxed atmosphere. She didn’t rush through it and she explained everything.”

128This Cooking Demonstration is just one example of the various workshops we have in the Diabetes Wellness and Prevention program. We have workshops such as Grocery Store Tours, Farmers Market Tours, and other Cooking Demos. Participants also have the opportunity to learn something new and health-related in our Weekly Support Group. Don’t just take my word on the program, Walter said, “It’s very beneficial. We get something out of it, and the discussion doesn’t just end after the program”. This is a great example of how Cooking Demos, Support Group, and other workshops provided in the program are learning experiences that start in the YWCA, but they expand outside of our walls and continue into the homes of the participants in the Diabetes Wellness and Prevention Program.

To learn more about joining our Diabetes Wellness & Prevention Program, contact Leah Berger-Singer at leah.bs@ywcaofasheville.org or at 828-254-7206 x. 212. 

The YWCA of Asheville’s Diabetes Wellness and Prevention program is supported by an educational grant from Novo Nordisk Inc., the NC Dept. Health & Human Services – Office of Minority Health, Mission Health Community Benefits Program, YWCA donors, and the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County.


Kale Chips!

7 Jan

The 3 year-old classroom in the YW’s Child Care recently learned how to make kale chips… and they loved them. We think you will too!

Ms. Alex, our child nutrition coordinator, came by the class in the morning to tell the children all about kale. The children got to smell and touch the raw kale… some even went ahead and tasted it! They received their own bowl of kale leaves, and carefully removed the stems. Ms. Ashanti and the other teachers helped them dress their kale with oil and salt. Then Ms. Alex baked the kale while the children had lunch and napped.

The children loved eating the crispy, crunchy, salty kale at snack time. It went fabulously with some freshly baked corn bread.


  • ½ pound kale
  • 1 tbs of olive or canola oil
  • ½ tsp salt
    • Preheat oven to 300 degrees
    • Wash  and dry kale, remove thick stem in the center of the leaves.  Chop or tear kale into bite-size pieces about the size of potato chips.
    • Using a cookie sheet, lay out parchment paper or baking mat.
    • Toss kale pieces with olive oil and salt
    • Spread kale in one layer on the cookie sheet, make sure leaves aren’t overlapping.
    • Pop in the oven for 10-15 minutes, flipping/stirring/rotating halfway through.
    • Serve fresh out of the oven.















Diabetes Wellness Success: Mildred

29 May

Success Story from Director of Preventive Health Susan Kettren:

Having a history of diabetes and wanting not to be another statistic were the main reasons why five  years ago Mildred sought out the YWCA’s Diabetes Wellness and Prevention Program. She continues to this day invested in the program serving as one of our valuable Mentors. What she liked about the program then and what she hopes that she now provides to our current participants is the feeling that of the staff and mentors are here to help you. “We are all in this together and we want everyone to succeed in meeting their goals,” she says. For Mildred, besides increasing her exercise, she feels she has done a 180 degree change for the better with her diet and eating habits. “Practice what You Preach” is her motto. Thank you Mildred!

What is the YWCA Diabetes Wellness and Prevention Program?

More than 25.8 million Americans have diabetes, the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Medical expenses for people with diabetes are two times higher than for people without diabetes, leading to an estimated $174 billion in annual diabetes costs in the United States. Yet, the disease is preventable – and often reversible – through diet and exercise.

Over the past five years, the YWCA of Asheville’s Diabetes Wellness and Prevention Program has helped 48o people with diabetes and pre-diabetes in western North Carolina manage the disease through discounted or free disease education, fitness and support services.

The program strives to reduce health disparities among low-income and minority men and women through services that include:

• A year-long membership to the YWCA of Asheville fitness center
• Free partnership with an on-site personal trainer specialized in diabetes
• Education training from Mission Health physicians, nurses and other medical staff
• Monthly consultations with Mission Health pharmacy interns
• Certified diabetes education from Mission Health
• Support groups, cooking classes and access to partnering minority health programs

Studies have shown that people with pre-diabetes who lose weight and increase their physical activity can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes and, in some cases, return their blood glucose levels to normal. Diabetes can lead to serious conditions and complications, such as blindness, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney damage, and stroke. Studies have also shown that when people with diabetes work together with their support network and their health care providers, the likelihood of developing complications from diabetes is significantly reduced.

With support from the Mission Healthcare Foundation, NC Dept. Health & Human Services – Office of Minority Health,  Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NC Foundation, the United Way of Asheville & Buncombe County and others, the YWCA of Asheville reduces the financial healthcare burden for local families and for the entire community of Asheville through its Diabetes and Wellness Prevention Program.

For more information about this program, email skettren@ywcaofavl.org or call 254-7206 x 212. 

photo by sandra stambaugh

Resolve to be YOU

8 Jan

Resolutions might be about change, but successful resolutions start with acceptance – accepting who we are, what we want, and how we need to grow.

That’s what you’ll find at the heart of Club W, the YWCA’s premier health and fitness center. The facility itself has a spacious, fully equipped gym….a 75-foot-long solar-heated pool…a wide range of fitness and water exercise classes…a fitness studio with ergonomically designed floors…and FREE drop-in child care. But Club W is first of all about people.

It’s a place where everyone’s welcome. A place where people are building spirits as well as bodies. A place where change happens, and people are making a real difference in their lives.

Club W. Where you can be YOU.

Stop by for a tour any time – we are waiving our enrollment fee for the whole month of January.

Find out more on our website, www.ywcaofasheville.org or by calling Director of Health & Fitness Susan Macdonald at 254-7026 x 213.

cllub w free enroll

Thanks to all who made Salsa, Sabor, y Salud a Success

26 Dec

Thanks to all of our great staff and participants, Salsa, Sabor, y Salud was a success on many fronts this fall! The YWCA Preventive Health Department is very happy that we could offer health and nutrition classes to Latino families. The families that attended during the six weeks were dedicated and eager to learn, offering the insight and participation to guide their own experience.
latino family istock 6-26-12

“Gracias a mi nuera!” (“Thank you my nanny!”), exclaimed one of our participants as she was leaving with her family and added a big hug for Chloe, an intern from UNCA. Chloe and Jack who facilitated the children’s program were loving and engaged with all of the participants, offering education and attentive supervision. Jack is great at getting every child involved in the activity or game. Stephanie, another intern from UNCA, provided a cool confidence and welcoming attitude that made the adult group feel comfortable sharing about their experiences. She gave an invaluable talk on ingredients to watch out for on nutrition labels that I think will prompt big changes for the better in the pantries of our Salsa families.

Thank you as well to Susan Kettren, our Directora of Preventive Health, who didn’t give up on us and was willing to change the dates and help us secure a time and space. Thank you to Ellen Bailey who helped us with outreach and offered her experience with the program and her connection with the Latino Community. By hosting a dinner and interactive survey for participants, Ellen and the students at UNCA are making the Salsa, Salud, y Sabor Program more applicable and accessible.

Thanks to Norma who helped with interviews during our fiesta and to Zaire who led a gym tour in Spanish for us and helped with outreach. What a blessing to be able to come together and create community!

We hope to run the program again in the summer and have even more families come together to dance, share, and establish habits for lifelong health.

Hasta Pronto,

Katie Souris
Care Counselor
YWCA Preventive Health

Club W Member of 10 Years

8 Nov

Today we are celebrating 10 Years of Club W: The YWCA Health & Fitness Center. Actress Becky Stone has been a Club W member since day one (she actually has been a supporter of YWCA since way before Club W).

Here’s what she has to say about her experience here:

“Fitness and Club W are a part of my life. I swim laps, do stretch and pump classes, and use the weight room for physical therapy. I have done Pilates, spin classes, and now I Zumba! I do what fits my schedule. It’s affordable to do all of those things everyday, and that’s what I’ve done Monday through Friday for years! Club W has kept me fit for physically challenging roles on stage and in life. It has seen me through two separate total knee replacements. I see old friends there and have made new ones. I hate to miss a day.”

We are grateful for Becky, and for all of our Club W members who are a part of our community. Your membership fees help to support all of our programs dedicated to eliminating racism and empowering women.

Not a Club W member? We are holding an Open House all day today – stop by our facility at 185 S. French Broad Ave. and try us out. If decide to join, we’ll waive the enrollment fee!

November Diabetes Awareness Events

24 Oct

November is Diabetes Awareness Month.

Mark Your Calendars: during November, the YWCA Diabetes Wellness & Prevention Program will be hosting the following Lunch & Learn events.

Wednesday, November 7, noon
“How to Choose Wisely When Dining Out”
Cathy Hohenstein, NC Cooperative Extension Services
Information and discussion on how to dine out right by learning how to make the right healthy choices.

Wednesday, November 14, noon
“Healthy Holiday Eating Tips”
Candace Krebs, RD & CDE Mission Hospital
Stay healthy during the holidays with holiday party survival tips. Other topics touched on are mindful eating, weight management, portions sizes, beverages, holiday cooking, being physically activity, and handling the stress that seems to come with the holidays.

Wednesday, November 28, noon
“Tai Chi for Diabetes”
Bob Feeser
Tai Chi is a gentle exercise proven to strengthen muscles, improve stamina, blood circulation, balance and relaxation. This designed program focuses on the health benefits for people with diabetes.

These events will be held at the YWCA of Asheville, 185 S. French Broad Ave. There is no cost to attend. Bring a bag lunch. Drinks will be provided.

RSVP Today!
Susan Kettren, Director of Preventive Health
254-7206 x 212, susan.kettren@ywcaofasheville.org