Pilates Goes Pink

When breast cancer touched their lives, these teachers took a stand, finding a variety of ways to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

by Anne Marie O’Connor

LINDA WIRTZ, senior instructor at Bull Dawg Training & Physical Therapy in Arlington, VA.

What she’s doing: Every October I teach two donation-based classes, with all money going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I tried offering a mat class, but people want to get on the Reformers! I advertise to all of my regular clients, as well as to the community. I encourage everyone to wear pink, provide swag bags for all participants and have snacks available after class. The support each year is wonderful.

Why it’s important to her to take action: I do these classes each year in memory of a dear friend I lost to breast cancer a few years ago. She was also my motivation to take the Pink Ribbon Program training, as I felt helpless when she received her first diagnosis.

JESSICA NEWSHEL, owner of Pilates Girl in Westport, CT

What she’s doing: For the last four years, I’ve picked a breast cancer charity and donated 10 percent of all packages purchased during the month to that organization; in the past, I’ve donated to Bright Pink and the Basser Center for BRCA.

Why it’s important to her to take action: I’m a “previvor”—meaning I have the BRCA1 mutation—and I had preventative surgeries to reduce my risk or breast and ovarian cancer, so it’s something that’s important to me.

STACY GEANT HUGHES, owner of Core Value Pilates LLC in Ridgewood, NJ

What she’s doing: “I’m doing the Tour de Pink. It’s a multi-day charity bike ride to raise money for the Young Survival Coalition (YSC), a nonprofit dedicated to providing support to young women affected by breast cancer. There are several options, but I’m doing the longest—a three-day, 200-mile ride in New Jersey on October 4 to 6.  I’ve recruited two more riders to join our team, which is being led by one of the co-founders of YSC; Core Value Pilates will sponsor all of our rides.

Why it’s important to her to take action: I was 46 when I was diagnosed with DCIS [ductal carcinoma in situ, when abnormal cells are found inside a milk duct in the breast], Stage 0 cancer, so I never used YSC support for my own experience—it focuses on women 40 and younger—but one of my friends was a co-founder back in 1998 and this organization provides an unbelievable service to young women with breast cancer.

BRITTANY S. CROSBY, owner of The Co Pilates in New York City

What she’s doing: We’re planning a free workshop for anyone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Our goal is to offer an opportunity to have access to more specialized exercises for those who have gone through any of the myriad treatment processes. In addition, we are hoping that it’s an opportunity for others to connect, relate and find support in their process no matter where they are in it.

Why it’s important to her to take action: My motivation comes from friends, family members and clients who’ve been diagnosed and are going through some kind of treatment plan. Through being a witness to their process, I’ve seen the challenges they’ve had to face in the releasing part of their identity that’s tied to their body.

JAN LEAHY, owner of Henry Street Fitness in Brooklyn

What she’s doing: I offer a free consultation to women who are recovering from or in treatment for breast cancer. In May, I put together my first class for breast cancer survivors. It ran for six weeks and was amazing on so many levels. Three of the six women who participated migrated into my regular classes and all became friends; my favorite part was watching the six of them hang outside the studio talking well into the middle of the class after theirs. I have another breast-cancer class starting in mid-September.

Why it’s important to her to take action: I was diagnosed with Paget’s Disease in 2012 and underwent a single breast mastectomy without reconstruction. After being released from physical therapy, I was on my own trying to understand my new exercise normal. I got certified as a breast cancer exercise specialist through the Pink Ribbon Program to help other women back to fitness health. PS

Featured in the September/October 2019 issue. To read more inspiring stories, exercise tips and  so much more, order your copy today. 

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