Fitness program designed for people with MS

August 13, 2009 10:14:30 AM PDT
There are a number of exercise classes that are designed to keep people with disabilities active. Fit MS is one of them. Personal struggles with multiple sclerosis encouraged Joy Wagner to create a workout program for people who also have MS. It is giving them a new outlook on life.

"We're not one thing, I think we're a fitness program, we're a post rehabilitation program to regain new skills and balance, and I think the most interesting thing about the class is that it evolved naturally into a support group," said Wagner.

In 2001, Joy Wagner was diagnosed with MS.

"I learned to regain my balance and improve my strength, and when I started working as a nurse again and working with our people like me," Wagner said. "I found that none of them were attempting to regain their former abilities or relearn things, and so I encouraged them to take an exercise class, finding out shortly after that that their were none that fit the abilities and the needs of this population."

Fit MS uses a combination of exercises, yoga and tai chi focusing on three problem areas. balance, flexibility and strength.

This class is offered three times a week at the Campanelli YMCA in Schaumburg.

Gina Bonfiglio was diagnosed with MS 23 years ago.

"I feel that it's an unconventional fitness class. This is a class that I come to definitely to help maintain the fitness level I have, but I also come because we help and support each other," said Bonfiglio.

Paul Wallace comes twice a week.

"It helps with my balance and my strength, but more importantly I can see how when I don't come what the effect is, so while I can debate how much I've improved, I can see if I don't do it what I've lost and what I can't do," said Wallace.

"I find that people who are drawn to a program like this are looking under every rock for looking for something they can do so they can live better," said Wagner.

There is also a Fit MS DVD available. For more information go to www.fitMS.org.


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