Jazzercise benefits breast cancer survivors

May 7, 2010 The partnering of Jazzercise and Back in the Swing is a perfect match with dual benefits. The fundraiser helps provide services for survivors, and the exercise helps breast cancer survivors to survive.

Jazzercise, with its combination of jazz dance, resistance training, Pilates and kickboxing movements, has always been a fun way to keep fit. This month, special fundraising classes are being held to benefit breast cancer survivorship programs through Back in the Swing.

"Barbara, who is the founder of Back in the Swing, is a breast cancer survivor and an avid Jazzerciser, so when she went through her treatments she continued to Jazzercise and found that really helped her with her fitness and feeling better and getting back in the swing of things," said Shannon Bradley, Jazzercise Palatine Center owner, instructor.

Seventy-five locations in Chicago and the suburbs will hold the special classes. Karen Eisentraut is an instructor at the palatine location and also a breast cancer survivor.

"It helped me stay strong," she said. "You second guess yourself with a cancer diagnosis, but working out made me feel like, 'OK, I'm in charge of this. I'm going to be healthy, fit and strong!"

"I had breast cancer twice," said Carol Deger, Jazzercise student. "It just keeps me focused on the fact that I'm here, I can do this and I love it! I come out feeling wonderful!"

Jazzercise was part of a recent study at the Breast Cancer Survivorship Center at the University of Kansas. The study looked at overall fitness, breast cancer risk and the quality of life.

"What they found in the two years while these women were active participants of Jazzercise, that they greatly reduced their body fat by 5.6 percent average. Body weight, insulin levels, blood pressure -- they all came down," said Bradley.

And according to Dr. Vincent Cryns, director of Northwestern's Breast Cancer Survivorhship Program, those results can be very beneficial to breast cancer patients.

"More recent studies suggest that exercise may improve survival in women with breast cancer, probably through its effects on body fat and hormones," said Cryns.

For these Jazzercisers, the class provides a great way to stay fit and have some fun while finding their new normal.

"It's good for the psyche and the soul because it's fun and it helps weight control, and they say exercise is good for high risk," said Susan Washburn, Jazzercise student.

"I believe in health and well being, I believe in mind body and spirit, and that's why I get up every morning to meditate, and then I come to class," said Wanda Tyndall-White, Jazzercise student.

The benefit classes are one hour. You are asked to make a donation to participate. There are no additional fees. The proceeds from the Chicago-area classes will be used to train oncology nurses throughout Chicago and the suburbs.

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