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Boomer Bootcamp: Three success stories

Three sixtysomething cancer survivors find better health and fitness through this fitness class


by: PHOTO: JANIE NAFSINGER/BOOM! - From left: Becky Evans, LiAnna Smith and Linda Trent have shed pounds and improved their fitness with the help of a total body workout called Boomer Bootcamp at Beaverton's Elsie Stuhr Center.

Here’s a challenge: You’re a sixty-something cancer survivor who needs to lose weight and get into shape. You can nag yourself to exercise and try to do it alone. Or you can do what Becky Evans, LiAnna Smith and Linda Trent did: Join a fitness class for middle-aged adults, one that will really make you sweat.

Evans, Smith and Trent are three Beaverton women in their 60s who signed up for a total body workout program called Boomer Bootcamp, offered at the Elsie Stuhr Center in Beaverton. They have taken this twice-weekly class on and off for at least 1-1/2 years, and they’re happy to report that yes, not only have they lost weight — a combined total of about 155 pounds — they have kept it off.

“If I didn’t come here (to the Stuhr Center), I’d probably sit at home,” says Evans, 68, who lost 70 pounds in two years and would like to lose 10 to 15 more pounds. “It’s the friends, the support that keeps you going.”

Smith, 62, has lost about 45 pounds in 2-1/2 years and has noticed that her balance and strength have improved since she started Boomer Bootcamp. The class is like a support group, she says: “We look out for each other. Everybody encourages everybody.”

The workouts in Boomer Bootcamp incorporate strength and resistance training, balance exercises, cardio “and a good stretch at the end,” says Trent, 63, who first took the class in 2009, has lost 40 pounds and kept it off.

Like Smith and Evans, Trent takes other fitness classes too — each exercises about five times a week — but Boomer Bootcamp provided the motivation she needed to get going, she says.

Trent had endometrial cancer and underwent a hysterectomy in 2010. “My doctor attributed my quick recovery to my great physical condition,” she says. She skipped Boomer Bootcamp for about five weeks, then, as soon her her doctor gave the OK, she got right back into the class.

Winning the battle of the bulge

Trent laughingly admits she never had a scale at home to weigh herself because “I really didn’t want to know.” Then at the doctor’s office one day, she finally faced the fact that she weighed more than 200 pounds.

Since then, Trent has overhauled her entire family’s lifestyle. She, her husband and daughter started walking and hiking together; they changed their eating habits; Trent began using a smartphone app to track her calorie intake.

For Evans, weight loss didn’t start out as a good thing; she shed about 30 pounds after undergoing surgery for colon cancer in 2011. A two-time cancer survivor — she had breast cancer in 1989 — Evans nonetheless found an incentive to begin a fitness program.

“I started slowly when it came to exercise because I was out of shape,” Evans says. “I started walking after my surgery, walking around Washington Square. I could barely make a loop around it.”

Bit by bit, she added more physical activity to her routine, working her way up to the elliptical and strength-building machines in the Stuhr Center’s fitness room. She also eliminated sugar from her diet and loaded up on vegetables.

Evans’ moment of triumph arrived last December during her physical exam: “All of my numbers were normal,” she says. “I’m no longer obese!”

Smith, who had throat cancer in 1999, also lost a lot of weight during her illness, “then I gained it all back,” she says.

When Smith turned 60, a light bulb went off in her head, and she realized she needed to start moving. She started walking in her neighborhood, and when winter came she began going to the Stuhr Center. She used the treadmill, then added the elliptical machine to her routine, and now works with weights three times a week. Her workouts enabled her to join friends in several 5K, 10K and other running/walking events.

“You’ve got to keep moving,” she says.

Learn more

For information about Boomer Bootcamp and other programs at the Elsie Stuhr Center, visit the Stuhr Center at 5550 S.W. Hall Blvd., Beaverton; call 503-629-6342; or log onto www.thprd.org.