Cancer exercise specialist offers classes

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Beginning on May 21, the Galax Recreation Center is offering a new exercise program designed to improve the health of current and former breast cancer patients.
Leading the class is cancer exercise specialist Renee Stoneman, a fitness guru who is dedicated to improving and maintaining cancer patients’ health.
Differing from a traditional exercise program, this series of classes will address health problems that typically result from cancer and cancer treatment. “So many people who have battled breast cancer are limited in their range of motion. Daily living has been impaired through tightening of muscles through surgery and muscle treatments, and so we want to offer them an opportunity to be in a class that caters to their needs,” Stoneman said.
Stoneman will bring a special level of expertise to the classes with her certification from the Cancer Exercise Institute.
She discovered the program after watching her sister and then her mother in their battles against cancer. Stoneman was already a seasoned professional in the fitness industry. She was employed at the Wellness Center in Galax when she was first approached about the idea of becoming certified in a cancer-specific exercise program.
“My director knew that I had a heart for working with St. Jude, and she knew about my sister’s experience,” Stoneman said. “She decided that this would be a good thing for me to do, and she sort of helped me move in that direction, which was a pretty long process of self-study.”
Stoneman received her certification in 2012 and set to work planning sessions at the rec center. The first class will be a six-week session taught at a beginner level. Contingent upon the level of interest in the area, Stoneman hopes to offer more sessions that gradually become more and more advanced.
The purpose of these classes is not only to improve physical and mental health for current and former cancer patients, but the exercises also help to prevent cancer from returning to the body. “There is such a high rate of reoccurrence... it’s one of the unfortunate truths of survivors,” said Stoneman.
She explained that, after treatment, it is easy for some people to either put on or lose large amounts of weight quickly. Major changes like this carry a risk of reoccurrence of the same or even different types of cancer.
Classes also work as a resource of support by gathering people together who have all been through the same battle.
Class participants will work to address their flexibility and range of motion, bone density, energy levels, hydration levels and their general well-being. “I will meet with each individual on their own, and have a one-on-one chat with them about their needs,” she said. “[The exercise] depends on who is in front of me.”
Outside of the classroom, Stoneman encourages everyone who has experienced or is experiencing cancer to maintain their health in any way that they can. “Move. I encourage anyone, male or female, to reach out for help in their daily skills, movement and exercise. For some, just thinking of exercise is a ridiculous feat, but movement [in any form] is important to let the body heal.”

The Cancer Exercise classes are offered at the Galax Recreation Center, starting May 21 from noon to 1 p.m. Classes are $30 for six weeks. Prior to the start of class, participants must provide a release form signed by their
physician if they are currently being treated for breast cancer. To register, call (276) 233-9283, or visit the Galax Recreation Center at 601 S. Main St. in Galax.

• Renee Stoneman is an independent personal trainer, and offers her assistance to anyone who wants to improve their fitness level. For more information, call (276) 233-9283 or email shlvn@hotmail.com.