Our Inspiration: Cancer Survivor Allison Stern Rosen
Dr. Allison (Annie) Stern Rosen, Ph.D. on the ideas behind Moving On Aerobics:
The time since my diagnosis for breast cancer has been marked by a kaleidoscope of emotions; anger, fear, detachment, self-pity, love, tenderness, and sorrow. I experienced unending moments of stillness, with events hazily moving in slow motion.
One constant was fatigue. It was something I could be sure would be there day after day. It, and the piercing bone pain I experienced during chemotherapy, forced me to slow down. Movement hurt! Walking, lifting, yoga was all too strenuous. I joined a gym but the machines seemed like “torture devices.” Weights hurt my joints. I tried aerobic exercise classes but in the company of younger and stronger athletes, I felt surrounded by painful reminders of all I had lost; my figure, my hair, my vitality, my discipline, and my self esteem.
Sitting around, depressed and lethargic, my one solace was music. It cheered me up. One day, I began dancing to the music. Although, it hurt to walk, I could sway and rock. At last, I had discovered a way to regain my strength. Joy is too calm a word to describe what I felt. I had a future again.
As I looked into the existing research, I came across numerous studies on the importance of exercise in the rehabilitation of breast cancer patients. There was also a body of research supporting the idea that music can help ease depression and ameliorate stress for patients facing difficult medical procedures. In addition, the experts were unanimous in stressing the role exercise and weight control plays in the long-term survival of breast cancer patients.
Despite all this evidence, aerobic exercise programs tailored for women recovering from breast cancer are virtually non-existent, even in major urban centers. It is my hope that Moving On Aerobics will help fill the gap I found when I was taking the first steps in my recovery.
About Moving On Aerobics: Dance Exercise for Cancer Survivors
Designed by exercise physiologist Martha Eddy, CMA, Ed.D., Moving on Aerobics is a program of dance exercise tailored for women living with breast cancer. Anyone dealing with the fatigue, weakness, weight gain, depression, lymphedema, joint or bone pain, and/or other associations with cancer treatment, or coping with similar physical challenges may benefit.
Led by movement professionals and supported by a company of women months or years beyond their own diagnoses, Moving on Aerobics will leave you feeling energized and ready to seize life fully and completely.
The Moving On Aerobics Class
Classes begin with easy breath-based warm-up and stretching—geared to the range of motion issues of the shoulders, rib cage and arms which many women experience while living with breast cancer. Movement and momentum build slowly, in a coordinated and rhythmic pulse that awakens and enlivens our bodies/ourselves in a way that is truly joy-filled. Offering realistic tools to deal with stress, isolating specific areas within to encourage greater ease and facility, and by supporting the connective rhythms of our entire moving body, this is an experience that enriches. Each session ends with a relaxing and fluid stretch sequence and a few moments to exchange personal experiences and resources. Moving On Aerobics is a guided tour of your body — your whole self — with many scenic stops along the way.
The Somatic, Holistic Approach of Moving On Aerobics
With caring, inspiring, and contemplative support, teachers guide you — getting you in touch with your own physiological needs — inner rhythms, and aiding you in isolating and revitalizing specific areas within.
Using supportive modalities such as breath awareness, gentle stretching, and open-hearted discussion the dialogue opens between unique connective relationships alive within us. We arrive more fully in a place of “somatic practice” — discovering the gentle rhythms of our movement lives within an experience of our authentic selves. Each session ends with a relaxing and fluid stretch sequence, a deepening dialogue that explore new feelings and resources, and often a touch of whimsy.
Again and again participants find this community a seamless, organic, and plentiful — a captivating resource that enlivens. So, get on board with your body, mind, and spirit to find a shared space that is uniquely your own and one you’ll want to visit again and again!
Our Journey Developing Moving On Aerobics
When Annie (Dr. Allison Stern Rosen) got cancer, a kaleidoscope of emotions followed; anger, fear, detachment, self-pity, love, tenderness and sorrow. Time journeyed on, but events like fog lingered in a kind of stasis, warped in slow motion, moments that lay hazily in a loop of unending stillness. One constant remained—fatigue, caught like a bubble and always there. She could be sure of it, sure it would be there day in and day out and accompanied by bone pain forcing her tired self to slow down. It seemed to her that all movement hurt or reminded her of new challenges. Slowly, she found her solace. Music brought a surge of joy and she found she could sway and rock. As she regained her strength, vigor and revitalized her spirit, joy was a narrow word for the expansive feelings alive within her. Inspired by new pathways within, she had a future again. Uplifted, next she looked for exercise videos to dance to. She found many and they sufficed but she was struck that none existed that really suited for her needs. Some just made her feel badly about her body and others were boring. She envisioned a dance/exercise video designed for cancer survivors that was uplifting and fun as well as supportive and knowledgeable of her condition.
As she shared her journey with her good friend Jan Albert, it seemed to both that an exciting and fun video could be created to meet the needs of women dealing with similar stories. Soon, the two approached Martha and they became a team of three. Annie was moving on in the company of other women bringing her direct experience of cancer and her expertise as a psychologist, women’s health advocate and fertility awareness expert to the project. With Martha designing a program, and Jan creating a CD mix designed for potent movers, the work was soon working its way from Teachers College to St. Luke’s Hospital and to other hospitals in the New York area. Results were astounding! Rich feedback and accolades buoyed the team at a conference at Mt. Sinai Hospital, and outreach to other major breast cancer resource centers followed.
Classes began at Gilda’s Club, SHARE, St. Luke’s Hospital, Roosevelt Hospital, and Riverside Church with many graduates from Martha’s own school, Moving On Center and Teachers College sharing their work and skills. Meanwhile, burgeoning interest meant even more teachers needed to be trained.
Moving On Aerobics: Moving Up and Branching Out
The work has continued to move on! Here are some of our recent travels:
- We opened a phone hotline listing classes around the city
- We’ve made MOA an important part of Stowe Weekend of Hope in Vermont
- Hillary Clinton’s office took a tour our facilities
- We created a bilingual Spanish program for Latina SHARE at St Vincents Hospital
- We have been invited to offer an on-going class at the new JCC of Manhattan and to participate in their Wellness Spa Day for Breast Cancer Survivors
- We are planning a new Moving On Aerobics class at Beth Israel Hospital
- We moved into our own home-base at the Center for Kinesthetic Education
- We piloted a study of the effects of aerobic exercise on aerobic capacity and self-perceived vitality amongst women who have been treated for breast cancer, involving pre- and post-surveys of participants’ experiences in a flow-based aerobics program with special attention to lymphatic drainage, range-of-motion, healthy joints, and increased energy through full rhythmic dancing
- We are creating a Moving On Aerobics DVD so women around the world can experience the benefits of the program
- We launched this web site to help bring Moving On Aerobics to even more survivors
New collaborations are developing daily — with educational media experts, with new centers, with more survivors! We would love your help!
Want even more information on Moving On Aerobics? Download our brochure!
Writers: Bonnie Schiffer and Martha Eddy
Brochure Layout and Editing: Sherry Greenspan
Photos: Robert Ullmann (Tel. 212.865.4279)
Web design: Ari Moore
“When I found Martha and the Moving on Aerobics team, I finally found out what they mean when they say ‘body, mind, and spirit.’ I found my whole body, my self and a place to call my own in a dynamic community of support — that’s what I call spirit!”
Moving On Aerobics is a Community Outreach Program of Moving On Center
New York Office: Center for Kinesthetic Education • 212.523.7275 • [email protected]