Pushing Forward

Last December, one of Greenwich fitness instructor Wendy Rosa’s class regulars was diagnosed with breast cancer. The diagnosis came at an especially vulnerable time for her friend. “She was just reeling from the loss of her mother to cancer and then this news came. Her whole world was turned upside down,” says Wendy.

So when the fitness expert’s friend asked for help maintaining a workout routine during treatment, Wendy jumped in to help with the boundless energy of a woman who routinely teaches fifty fitness classes a week. She took an intensive course, earning her certification in cancer fitness. Then she created a first-of-its-kind Greenwich-based fitness class for women undergoing breast cancer treatment.

At press time, Wendy’s gentle, highly customized class was being held Saturday mornings at the Greenwich YMCA. Participants include women in treatment for various stages and types of breast cancer.

While Wendy deliberately dials down the intensity for women whose energy may be zapped by chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries, she says the workout is appropriately challenging. She includes some simple Zumba choreography adding in optional light weights, core and leg work as well as calming tai chi elements. Adaptations are made for a student’s individual concerns and limitations.

“What I’m giving them is a little part of their life that they want to keep,” explains Wendy, adding that research shows breast cancer patients who make exercise part of their recovery tend to have better long-term survival rates. “And what I’m getting back is something personal too. It’s become not just for my friend, but about a little bit of positive I’m trying to put back into their world.”

For more information contact Wendy Rosa at or call 403-496-1857.

How To Modify The Workout

Breast cancer patients can have a variety of fitness challenges. Here’s how wendy works around those issues.
Cardio Modified Zumba moves that are done at a pace that’s ideal for a woman fatigued by treatment. Leg and Core Work Movements done lying on the floor are less taxing, but highly effective. Optional Light Weights Can strengthen the upper body post- surgery, but students are encouraged to drop them if “they aren’t there yet.” Tai Chi Provides stretching benefits and alleviates stress and anxiety. “The idea is for this to be a feel- good experience.”

Photograph: © hidesy/istockphoto


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