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Ian Stewart, the new face of YMCA Health and Wellness

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart

MORRIS – There’s no question about it: Since moving into our new home, the Morris Community YMCA has left quite an impression on Wauponsee Street.

With the support of Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers, the Y was able to open its doors to the community in January.

Since then, with a core of just three full-time staff, we’ve welcomed in more than 2,000 members and introduced an assortment of both youth and health-based programming.

Now, here we are, halfway through the year, and the Y is ready to introduce a new era of programming – thanks to the recent hire of our fourth full-timer, a health science buff by the name of Ian Stewart.

Stewart, a Champaign native, officially started with the Morris Community YMCA in late May, becoming the first Health and Wellness director in its history.

This, however, isn’t his first stint with a YMCA: While Stewart earned a degree in Exercise Science from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, he spent five years at the local Y in town, where he worked extensively in conditioning, rehabbing and sports training.

Stewart’s intentions are to bring similar practices to the Morris YMCA, where he plans to pioneer high-quality programs while sharing his expertise on embracing a healthy lifestyle.

“Healthy is a broad term,” he said. “When I think of someone being healthy, I don’t just think of someone who looks healthy.

Instead, I see someone who’s able to walk around freely and enjoy their life, who has found a happy medium between exercise, wellness and nutrition.”

Stewart definitely knows his stuff. Words such as “biomechanics” and “plyometrics” are part of his daily vocabulary. It’s clear that he’s excited to hit the ground running.

One of his top priorities, he says, is to get members acquainted with the Y’s fitness center and weight room, where he’s already noticed some equipment being underutilized.

As a result, Stewart has invited members to sign up for a free fitness orientation, where he will demonstrate how to use strength equipment properly. For those interested in taking their health to the next level, the Y also has begun offering personal training.

What Stewart’s most excited about, however, is a sports-specific training program that he’s developing. The program, which can be tailored to individual athletes or entire teams, relies heavily on strength and conditioning, as well as plyometric training – a form of situational training that aims to prevent injuries and develop speed and agility.

Each workout features an extensive and specific design that varies from sport to sport, and may include anywhere between 20 and 30 different exercises. His goal is to pilot the program as early as fall 2015.

The Y offers a variety of different wellness-based programs for people of all fitness levels.

With a membership at the Morris Community YMCA, members have access to our fitness center and weight room, and are invited to participate in our free fitness classes.

For information about health and wellness programs at the Morris YMCA, please contact Ian Stewart at 815-513-8080, ext. 514 or email

• Kyle Nowaczyk works for the YMCA. Community Pulse is a weekly column that provides a dedicated space for Grundy County-area nonprofits, schools, organizations and sometimes Morris Herald-News staff to share news and information about their organization.

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