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‘Survival Fitness’ aids breast cancer survivors

Doctor, CrossFit competitor lead survivorship program

Brandy Toomer, center, leads a PVC pipe workout at the Survival Fitness class program at New Ulm CrossFit.

“Survival Fitness,” an eight-week class at New Ulm CrossFit focusing on yoga and strength training is helping women who have been through cancer.

Created by Dr. Cori Jordan of New Ulm Medical Center and Brandy Toomer of New Ulm CrossFit, the hour-long program begins at 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Workouts include using resistance bands, PVC pipe and doing box jumps and step-ups.

New Ulm cancer survivor Amber Faulstick Melby said the program has been a great thing for her.

“It’s been very important for my survivorship because you lose so much stamina and muscle mass going through chemotherapy,” Melby said.

“You come out of treatment very weak and deconditioned. Exercise is vital to getting back to some normalcy. It helps so much with your mental health as well,” she added. “We want to connect survivors at all stages of their survivorship. Having this small group also function as a support system where survivors connect and help each other is important for their emotional health too.”

Brandy Toomer, left, leads a resistance-band on the legs workout at a Survival Fitness class at New Ulm CrossFit.

Melby said the women she meets at the class support each other by laughing and crying together and enjoying each other’s company.

“I feel great. I’m almost six years cancer-free,” Melby said during a class.

Dr. Corine Jordan, a board-certified surgeon who specializes in general surgery and breast surgery at New Ulm Medical Center, Sleepy Eye Medical Center and does outreach at the Springfield clinic, said the pilot program began with women affected by breast cancer to help them manage symptoms and as a support group to help them feel better and stronger.

“It’s a great program,” Jordan said. “Studies show strength training and mind/body exercises such as yoga and meditation significantly improve symptoms associated with breast cancer treatment. Regular survivorship exercise will decrease breast cancer recurrence.”

Named to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine Top Doctors list for five consecutive years, 2013-2017, Jordan came to New Ulm several years ago and quickly became active in the community. She is a New Ulm High School assistant girls varsity soccer coach, and volunteer track coach at New Ulm Middle School.

Survival Fitness class participants do a resistance-band on the hands workout at the Survival Fitness class at New Ulm CrossFit.

Jordan enjoys CrossFit, yoga, trail running and spending time with her family. She and her husband Matt have a son, Emory, and a daughter, Charlotte.

An avid runner and athlete since age five, Jordan has run daily for more than 300 consecutive days and plans to extend her daily running streak into the future.

Brandy Toomer of New Ulm CrossFit and a CrossFit competitor, was also instrumental in creating the Survival Fitness program.

Toomer works fulled time as a surgical technologist at New Ulm Medical Center. She and her husband Jeff own and coach at New Ulm CrossFit. They have three children, Mackenzie, LeeRoy and Haylee.

According to the American Cancer Society, evidence shows yoga can reduce stress, increase strength, reduce lower back pain and provide exercise.

Yoga may help relieve some symptoms linked to cancer, asthma, diabetes, drug addiction, high blood pressure, heart disease, and migraine headaches, according to a National Institutes of Health report.

A typical yoga session begins with slow, gentle movements, along with slow, deep breaths from the abdomen. Session may include guided relaxation, meditation, and visualization. It often ends with the chanting of a meaningful word or phrase, called a mantra, to achieve a deeper state of relaxation.

It is best to learn yoga from a well-trained instructor and always wise to talk to your health care provider before starting any new exercise plan.

For more information, visit https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/say-yes-to-yoga.html

CUTLINES:

Brandy Toomer, left, leads a resistance-band on the legs workout at a Survival Fitness class at New Ulm CrossFit.

Survival Fitness class participants do a resistance-band on the hands workout at the Survival Fitness class at New Ulm CrossFit.

Brandy Toomer, center, leads a PVC pipe workout at the Survival Fitness class program at New Ulm CrossFit.

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