The core of Livestrong, as it exists locally, is a twelve-week group wellness program especially designed for those affected by cancer treatment. The local group meets at either of two times each Tuesday and Thursday – in the morning, or in the evening. Livestrong is led by two trainers/coaches — Jack McLaughlin and Ellen Leaver — who themselves receive extensive and ongoing training in strength and balance routines, especially designed for countering the effects of cancer therapies, namely, weakness, fatigue and loss of balance.
Of course the benefits and impact of the program are more than strictly physical – there is a huge psychological and emotional boost from the one-on-one encouragement of the coaches, as well as the support and encouragement which naturally develops among group members during the twelve weeks. The groups have their own workout room where they meet twice a week, separate from the view of other Y workout areas. Modifications are freely made for individuals with unique physical limitations, or even reluctance on the part of those not previously familiar with exercise movements and equipment. Participants progress at their own pace through an individually designed routine to build balance, improve strength and to experience different exercise aides, such as free weights (starting at 1 lb.), stability balls, machines and tension bands. After several weeks of experience with the various modes, participants have several weeks of furthering their familiarity with a choice of modes, always with a coach nearby to reinforce form and technique.
As a Livestrong graduate, and now participant as a paying Y member, I cannot say enough good things about the program. I was never a practiced exerciser, not terribly motivated to learn, and somewhat fearful of sustaining injuries. Yet, I credit Livestrong with allowing me to emerge from surgery, chemotherapy and radiation still able to maintain a sense of well-being, perhaps greater than before.