Fitness center helps volunteer regain strength, ease pain

by Kara Haworth, Nebraska Medicine | February 05, 2019

Image with caption: This is one of the machines Don Winters uses during his daily workout at Engage Wellness. It's been nearly a year since Winters joined the medical-fitness center, and it's had such a positive impact on his life, he describes it as a

This is one of the machines Don Winters uses during his daily workout at Engage Wellness. It's been nearly a year since Winters joined the medical-fitness center, and it's had such a positive impact on his life, he describes it as a "treasure." The center is offering discounted enrollment specials during the month of February.

Don Winters was searching for answers. He had completed treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2014 and two years later, doctors removed a tumor from his spinal column.

"The whole experience just took my strength," he sais.

In addition to feeling weak, his chronic back pain was worsening. After his physician prescribed physical therapy, Winters saw an improvement. After his regimen concluded, he was left to perform exercises at home.

"It was not enough," he said.

Winters, who serves as a volunteer for Nebraska Medicine, received a flyer for Engage Wellness, UNMC's medical fitness and whole-person wellness center. The center was offering an informational session to learn what it offers.

"I thought, 'What have I got to lose?'" Winters said.

After attending the session, and despite the fact that he lives in West Omaha, Winters enrolled in May 2018. He began meeting with Heather Shafer, wellness specialist, who developed a customized program based on Winters' goals.

"I really got wrapped up in this," he said. "I was really motivated. Within a month, the pain was easing in my back. I was strengthening my upper body, which was relieving the pain."

Around that time, Winters' wife Linda, noticed a change, too.

"She said to me, 'Since you started there, you're much happier,'" he sais. "I told her I felt better, too."

Winters, who is nearing his 74th birthday, drives every day to Engage Wellness and works out for two hours. As his strength improves, Shafer modifies his program.

"They don't want me to do too much at a time," he said. "They don't want me to get carried away. I'm very driven."

Winters credits the supportive environment for his enthusiasm to come each day.

"The environment here is conducive because everyone helps one another," he said. "The staff is excellent. They really care about you."

In the past, the center was only open to patients age 50 or above. Last year, they changed that, allowing anyone 19 or older to join.

"Our fitness center is unique as it provides medical oversight," Shafer said. "We work with many patients with chronic illnesses, like heart disease or arthritis. The resources of our certified staff are available to all of our members."

Engage Wellness is offering a special for February, which includes a discounted enrollment fee of $8 and a participation fee of $8 for the first month. The center is open Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you would like to learn more or schedule a tour, call 402-552-7210.

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