For people diagnosed with cancer, finding the energy to exercise during and after treatment can be difficult. That is why Caroline Godine, 53, feels that programs such as ACAC’s Cancer Wellfit program are so important. Godine explained that is because the program helps keep participants accountable to workout, even when they don’t feel like it.
The program includes 10 weeks of access to ACAC’s facility in Charlottesville, Virginia. In addition, participants meet with an instructor, who puts them through an hour-long workout twice a week to help improve strength and flexibility.
According to Kelly Kyriacopoulos, a membership coordinator for ACAC, the goal of the program is to help ease cancer patients and survivors back into exercise and help counter any negative side effects associated with cancer. “Truly, it’s a matter of helping people stay active,” she said.
Godine was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2013. A month later, she underwent a mastectomy, and began chemotherapy in July. During this time, Godine’s motivation to workout was understandably limited.
However, the Cancer Wellfit program helped keep Godine accountable. She explained her instructor, Elli Yokochi, would even call her and check on her if she didn’t show up for class. “If no one is looking over your shoulder, it’s really easy to say, ‘I don’t feel like exercising today,’” she said. “But if you know your instructor is going to call you and check on you — and you don’t have a good excuse — [you’re] prompted to come in.”
Fortunately, Godine was grateful when she did complete a workout, even if initially she hadn’t felt like going. “I felt so much better after a workout,” she said. “I slept better at night and it just makes you feel better all the way around.”
In addition to the physical benefits of the program, Godine said there were other benefits as well. “It’s an excellent program, not just for the workout aspect, but for the camaraderie of being with other cancer patients and survivors,” she said. “You had people to support you while your were going through it.”
At ACAC, between four and six people usually go through the Cancer Wellfit program each cycle. According to Kyriacopoulos, offering the program has been inspiring on multiple fronts. “It’s a very positive experience for everyone involved,” she said, explaining that Godine and other participants even inspire members not participating in the program.
Godine completed treatment early this year, and will begin the Cancer Wellfit program again this fall to help her continue to stay motivated. “It’s a very worthwhile program,” she said. “There’s lots of research out there that demonstrates exercise during chemo, as well as after, is good for overall health.”
3 Benefits of Offering the Cancer Wellfit Program:
1. Cancer is very much a part of the general population. Offering the program will allow you to be a resource to members diagnosed with cancer.
2. In addition, clubs will be able to better service and attract new populations — cancer patients and survivors.
3. The program allows you to better the community and improves your reputation as a club.
By Rachel Zabonick