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Exercising the Pain Away

Specialized Class a Mainstay in JCHE Residents’ Lives

Posted: May 5, 2016

Joan Slaby and Jack Kates come from very different walks of life. But they have two things in common that are near and dear to their hearts: they are both residents of JCHE’s Coleman House and they are both deeply committed to regular exercise.

One class the good friends say they never miss is the targeted arthritis class taught by Francine Godfrey, JCHE’s Director of Fitness and Wellness, who has been leading exercise and fitness programs at JCHE for over 18 years.

“I don’t call it an arthritis class,” says Godfrey. “I call it a class for everything and anything that hurts.”

The class uses an evidence-based protocol developed by the Arthritis Foundation, which Godfrey and members of her staff learned at the foundation’s certification program in 2012. 

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“It’s designed as a three-month program,” she says, “but the feedback was so strong and people felt such great improvement that I felt I couldn’t stop it. So we do it twice per week at each JCHE site. Because of the repetition of coming twice per week, people feel better and have less pain.  There’s no question they don’t have the pain they had when they walked in.

No pain, no pills

Joan and Jack agree.

“I absolutely have pain if I don’t come to this class,” says Joan, an 83 year-old mother of six who has lived at Coleman House since 2011. “This past winter I was sick with laryngitis and I didn’t come down for classes, and boy I felt it. I couldn’t wait to get back to class again. I missed it so much.”

“I lift weights in the gym, but I feel like I’m missing something,” says Jack, a 97 year-old WWII veteran who has been a Coleman House resident for 12 years. “This class is more specific. I’m using muscles I don’t exercise anywhere else.” 

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Jack has been a regular in Godfrey’s classes for as long as she can remember.

“When Jack first started in my class, he couldn’t get over how much tougher the classes were than the machines,” says Godfrey. “He was weak and it’s definitely made a difference in his strength and balance. The difference is extraordinary. It’s hard to believe he’s 97.”

“The irony is that when I don’t lead a class, I feel the difference,” she says.

Having the classes onsite at JCHE is an important advantage for the residents.

“That’s one of the beautiful things about living here – to be able to just come here in the building,” says Joan. “It makes it almost impossible to have an excuse not to come down and exercise. Plus, the instructors are a joy. They make it fun and make you feel more like moving."

“I’ve had a lot of people tell me that it’s changed their life,” says Godfrey.

“It has for me,” says Joan.

“Me too,” says Jack.


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