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This workout at an Elizabethtown gym energizes MS patients: VIDEO

Matt Stoner ignored the numbness in his feet and the rapid weight loss for long enough.

By the time he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last year, two physicians said he’d soon need a wheelchair.

When his wife heard about a free fitness program for MS patients, he hesitated. The program was in Elizabethtown and they lived in Lancaster city. And, in the past, he had scoffed at exercise.

But he decided to give it a shot. Once he got a taste of how the exercise could make him feel better, Stoner was hooked. After 10 weeks of working with a personal trainer, his energy, stamina and strength have skyrocketed. He’s off some of his medications and walking strong. Stoner calls it a positive transformation, both physically and mentally.

“This has just boosted my morale and my self-esteem,” he says.

Stoner joined Pennsylvania’s first MS Fitness Challenge. The challenge gives MS patients free gym memberships and weekly time with a trainer, plus a personal exercise plan.

A West Coast bodybuilder named David Lyons started the challenge and a Lancaster County fitness trainer, Mark Mueller, has joined him and is teaching trainers how to work with MS patients.

Mueller has a personal stake in the challenge because his wife, Jackie Mueller, has MS

MS and exercise

MS is an unpredictable disease that affects the nervous system. Symptoms vary from patient to patient, but fatigue is one of the most common, along with numbness, stiffness and problems with balance and walking.

The fatigue often causes some people to use a scooter or wheelchair, says Robin Unangst, director of services and activism at the Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Pennsylvania Keystone Chapter, which serves Lancaster.

Exercise, however, will boost energy, she says, which keeps patients mobile and helps emotional health, too.

Exercise helped Jackie Mueller improve her mobility and relax the muscles that used to be so stiff.

Jackie Mueller discovered the MS Fitness Challenge while researching the disease she’s had for 18 years.

She shared information about the challenge with her husband, who got in touch with David Lyons, a successful San Diego, California bodybuilder who has MS and who originated the challenge. The Muellers thought it perfectly combined their fitness business and their effort to improve Jackie Mueller’s health.

They could have started a similar kind of challenge in Lancaster County but decided to join Lyons’ MS Fitness Challenge, a nonprofit that he started two years ago.

Lyons started the challenge at the urging of his wife, who wanted him to share what he’s learned about the chronic disease.

He built the challenge around the concept of an MS patient working with a trainer who understands the disease and its often-changing symptoms, Lyons says during a telephone interview from his home.

Otherwise, a typical exercise routine might not get the desired results and could actually hurt someone.

Lyons asked Mueller to be the challenge’s director of trainers. They worked together to develop a course that explains the disease and selected an online certification company. They launched the course this year.

Local challenge

Locally, Mueller launched an MS Fitness Challenge at the Elizabethtown Fitness Club, and 16 people signed up for the free program.

The fitness club, where Mueller is a trainer, donated memberships. Several businesses donated money to cover the discounted personal training fees. Mueller also recruited Lydia Greinermiller as an extra trainer.

“I have a family friend that died of MS,” Greinermiller says. “I saw what it did to her. If I can help somebody combat these symptoms, that’s a dream come true.”

After Greinermiller passed the training course, either she or Mueller met with each person who signed up for the challenge. They then created individualized exercise plans. Over four months, they’ll meet with each client weekly, plus suggest solo workouts.

For example, Jackie Mueller focuses on balance and strength training for her legs.

Trainers will also watch for signs of overheating, a potential problem for those with MS.

Balanced, energized

On a recent Monday morning, Mark Mueller led Stoner through some weight lifting. Next, he started Clinta Yaniscavitch’s session on a treadmill to get her legs warmed up.

Later, with dumbbells in each hand, she did several reps of side bends and then walked forwards and backwards.

Yaniscavitch, of Elizabethtown, has had trouble walking while carrying heavier things like groceries. The exercises improve her coordination, balance and strength.

“I feel more energized,” she says. “I feel more balanced.”

As the Elizabethtown challenge ends, the Muellers say it’s gone beyond their wildest dreams.

“I am so pleased with the changes in so many people, not just physically, but their attitudes, their emotional states,” Mark Mueller says. “I’ve had so many people say, ‘We’re not stopping this.’ ”

They would like to start another local challenge. But they need to find sponsors to cover costs, which can range from about $8,000 to $18,000, depending on the number of people who signed up.

In the meantime, trainers have offered to start several dozen challenges from California to Florida.

The Muellers would like to see the nonprofit grow and help others start even more challenges around the world.

“The thing that we’re noticing most is, it’s just been a joy to meet these folks,” Jackie Mueller says. “And to see where they start out at and see where they’re at now.”

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by LANCASTERONLINE
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length


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