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Exercise IS Medicine!

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Mike AlpertMike Alpert

For my article this month, I want to write about how I got started on this Exercise IS Medicine journey and also recognize some amazing people that inspire me to keep going.

Back in 1992, while I was serving as one of the Managing Partners of The Athletic Club of Bend, I was fortunate to be able to work with a little five-year-old boy who had Spina Bifida. His name is Gabe West, and today, he is 28 years old. Twice a week, his mother would bring him in to the club where I would take him into the warm water side of our 25-meter pool and work with him. The work was actually play time as I would help him do summersaults in the water and walk him around in the water where he felt buoyant and like he could move his hips. The happiness that this brought to him, and the way he would hold onto me, is something that I have never forgotten. He was the moving force that got me hooked, so to speak, on using a health club venue to serve other children who were dealing with chronic illnesses and chronic injuries. Every week, I saw the impact that was happening... not only for the children, but for their families as well. It seemed natural that, if this had such a positive effect on children, it would do even more for adults who struggled with chronic illnesses and chronic injuries. So, the journey began and continues today thanks to the hard work, passion and dedication of the managers and staff at our Claremont Club.

People Who Inspire Me

Let's move on to the people who inspire me and make me grateful and proud that I know and work with them. I have written about Zein Youssef in previous articles, but now, I want to share Zein's own words about how exercise has helped him. Zein wrote:

"Hello, my name is Zein Youssef, and I am 12 years old. I have been battling different cancers since I was five and a half. I was first diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma, after which I was in remission, relapsed in my brain. After three long years of treatment, I was finally in remission from both cancers. But then, a new one showed up in 2017 and came back again after removing it surgically in 2018. My cancers were all aggressive, and their treatments were always so long. Some left me not able to move and extremely tired. When I started training with Chris Fitzgerald earlier this year, I was barely able to move, so he put together an awesome plan for me and helped me build my stamina every day. I can now lift weights and do a three-minute plank! I have always believed in myself, and I knew I had it in me since I'm used to pushing through difficult circumstances. But, it is awesome to have someone like Chris believe in you and work hard to make it happen for me."

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