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New fitness program at YMCA of Woodbury targets cancer survivors

It’s been 12 years since Woodbury resident Marguerite Ashton was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

But Ashton still hasn’t entirely bounced back to where she was before, she said. 

“I’ve had been trying to get back into good physical condition,” she said. “I did belong to a health club, but I hadn’t gone. I didn’t enjoy working out.” 

Ashton found support at the YMCA of Woodbury through its Livestrong program, which is a free fitness program for cancer survivors. 

“It gave me the support to want to exercise, to want to improve my physical abilities,” Ashton said. “Now I enjoy working out.” 

The YMCA of Woodbury will be offering its next Livestrong session, which consists of 12 weeks of classes, this September. 

“It’s not just physical benefits,” said JoJo Goulding, who coordinates the program at the YMCA, “it’s mental. 

“It’s building their self-esteem, it’s building their self-worth.” 

While Livestrong is offered at other YMCAs around the country, the YMCA of Woodbury is the only program in the Twin Cities. 

The YMCA of Woodbury was chosen to pilot the program last year. 

SUPPORT FOR CANCER SURVIVORS

Livestrong is open to any cancer survivors, who are terminal or up to 10 years in remission, as long as they have their doctor’s approval. 

The program is free to YMCA members as well as nonmembers. The nonmembers also receive a free YMCA membership for the 12-week duration of Livestrong. 

Family members of the cancer survivors are also welcome to attend the classes. 

“It’s up to them whether they have a family member they would like to join with them for support,” said Goulding, who is the program manager for Group X and Active Older Adults at the YMCA. 

Class sizes are typically limited to eight to 12 people.

Prior to the start of the program, Goulding will meet with each individual participant to find out about their condition, other issues they might have, their goals and their needs. 

“We make sure the program is directed to each one individually,” she said. 

For the first few weeks of Livestrong, which meets twice a week, participants and the Livestrong-certified trainers, will spend considerable time getting to know each other. 

“It’s amazing the connection that you build in this small room so quickly,” Goulding said. “We really become a community.” 

After the get-to-know-you phase, a typical class, which lasts 1-1/2 hours, will include some sort of warm-up activity followed by some strength training to help with strength, range of motion, balance, coordination, aerobic capacity.

Livestrong also helps with mental stability and happiness, Goulding said. 

STRONG BENEFITS

Cottage Grove resident Shelley Lindemyer said she decided to enroll in Livestrong because she wanted to get back to being physical after being diagnosed with melanoma three years ago and years of sitting in an office. 

“I realized that life is kind of short and that I wanted to be committed to trying to reverse some of the effects of sitting in an office,” she said. “It was an opportunity to try and get stronger and actually use the resources.” 

Livestrong is a great asset for cancer survivors, Goulding said, because it not only helps introduce them to a healthier lifestyle but also it’s free of cost. 

“To get a personal trainer costs money,” she said, “and these people have spent a lot of their money on getting healthy.” 

Goulding said the YMCA of Woodbury hopes to continue offering Livestrong in the future, however, it may depend on receiving support from the state. 

“We can only offer so many free things,” she said. “Our money will be running out if we don’t get some assistance.” 

Exercise is key for the path to recovery, Goulding said. 

“If we don’t have those endorphins flying, we tend to get negative,” she said. “We need to stay active to keep our brain active and great way to keep that brain active is through exercise. 

“If we feel better physically, we feel better mentally and then we’re going to have a happier life.” 

Livestrong at the YMCA of Woodbury will kick off on Sept. 14 and will meet for 12 weeks, from 1:30-3 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. For more information on, or to register for, the program stop by the YMCA of Woodbury, 2175 Radio Drive, or contact JoJo Goulding at (651) 739-6597 or jo.goulding@ymcatwincities.org.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

(651) 702-0976
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