The Free Press, Mankato, MN

March 25, 2013

YMCA to introduce fitness program for cancer sufferers

By Brian Ojanpa
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — Next fall, people living with cancer will be able to avail themselves of a Mankato Family YMCA fitness program tailored to their needs.

The Mankato facility is one of 30 YMCAs selected from Ys nationwide — and the only one in Minnesota — to be awarded program start-up grants from LIVESTRONG Foundation.

Mankato Y Wellness Director Joy Leafblad said the program differs from standard fitness programs in two key areas:

“There will be only eight participants in each class, which is a huge distinction because it allows instructors to modify classes to meet the needs of an individual.”

For example, if a class participant has recently undergone breast surgery, the instructor can easily adjust the movements of the class workout regimen to fit that person’s recovery profile.

Leafblad said the 12-week classes also will provide another key component — group mutual support derived by the very act of exercising together.

“The main focus is, as they go through cancer, there is normalcy, they can be active and get to where they want to go.”

She said instructors will go through six months of training prior to the program’s start.

The Mankato YMCA received a $3,500 grant from LIVESTRONG, with another $3,500 available based on most public votes received in an online voting campaign involving participating YMCAs.

People can vote until 5 p.m. Thursday by logging on to

The LIVESTRONG Foundation, created by cancer survivor Lance Armstrong, provides free cancer support services to help people cope with the financial, emotional and practical challenges that accompany the disease.