SaraPankonin

A native of northern Minnesota, Sara Pankonin has been an active, athletic, teamsport
person since her childhood. She joined AMFC — her “place of balance” — 2007.

Sara left her full-time job as a civil engineer to be home with their sons, Chase (1),
Bret (5) and Tyler (7). Because it’s so close to their home, they are able to walk to
AMFC where she challenges herself with well-rounded workouts knowing her kids
are happy, engaged and safe at FitKids. Occasionally, she and her husband Dan
enjoy “date night” together at AMFC.

“I need people. I love connecting with friends as I work out,” she says, admitting
that the step mill is more fun while she enjoys a conversation with the person on
the next machine over.

According to her friend Rose, Sara enjoys sharing encouragement, optimism,
friendship and connection with the people she meets in the AMFC community.
Her commitment to building and maintaining whole-health is uplifting.

Rose shares, “Sara is one of the most genuine, pleasantly outspoken people I’ve
met. We met at AMFC six years ago and we’ve been kindred spirits since. When life
throws me an obstacle, Sara shows up with whatever I need, from fitness partner
and fellow mama to salad chef and spiritual guide. I am blessed to call her friend.”

A math whiz, Sara recently began substitute teaching. “It’s really a way for me to
give back. Yes, it’s a job; I’m compensated, but mainly for me it’s a way to engage
and share what I know and love. Lots of people are afraid of math and it’s fun to
help them break through that,” she said. But it’s not all fun and games. When she
comes home with a stress headache, she heads for the fitness center to stretch,
rest and work it out.

Reina 2 10 2014

Reina Parker has been an AMFC member since November of 2013.  Over this last year, she’s averaged 10 monthly workouts, or a bit over 2 and a half workouts per week, with up to 3 or 4 workouts per week more recently.  That track record represents a commendable commitment to health and fitness for anyone.  But Reina’s consistent, ongoing commitment is not only commendable, it’s absolutely inspiring and humbling when you have the opportunity to know more about her journey to get here and her continuing journey to health and wellness.

As a teenager, Reina was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos disease, type III, a hereditary condition affecting the body’s connective tissue which can result in easily disjointed and chronically painful joints, chronic musculoskeletal pain, fibromyalgia, heart problems, bruising easily, fragile skin, digestive problems, collapsing veins, eye problems and complications with pregnancy and surgeries.   Despite that formidable list of symptoms, a person with the disorder can appear to be perfectly disease-free.

So while Reina worked to manage formidable symptoms at school, she faced the derision of classmates, teachers, coaches and other adults who labeled her lazy and uncooperative. After school, she went home to serve as the primary caretaker for her mother who became disabled when Reina was about 15 years old.  That’s where Reina says she learned about empathy, “Empathy for others strengthens me.”

An ample and steady supply hardship and oppression in Reina’s formative years could have led her to a very dark view of the world and her life.  She admits to mirroring the anger and meanness of others around her for a while, but she says, “I didn’t like myself that way. I didn’t want to live like that.”  So she made a conscious choice to live with empathy, love and compassion and truly inspiring fearlessness.  “If you’re living in fear and anger, you’re not living” Reina says.  Clearly, that’s no platitude; that’s the truth she exhibits through her daily life.

Reina became a patient of Dr. Santos at Avera in her mid-twenties.  Another knee dislocation necessitated crutches and spiraled into high pain and low mobility.  By that point, she was unable to work, with severe fibromyalgia pain as well.  Prior to the injury, she was doing 26 mile bike rides pulling her little boy in a bike trailer.  Dr. Santos recommended that Reina join Avera McKennan Fitness Center to gain a foothold on strength and hope.

Reina took hold of the challenge and unveiled her inner “Rocky Balboa”, she says with a smile.  “Building muscle helps hold me together,” says Reina.  She was disciplined about maintaining controlled movement and healthy posture to protect herself.  She kept her workout schedule consistent, focusing on building core strength and overall balance and limb strength. And all that effort moved Reina to a much brighter vantage point. She increased her weekly workouts and worked up to covering 12 miles on a stationary bike.  She used the steam room to de-stress and detoxify, and increased her core, balance and strength work upstairs.

After a few months she left her crutches at home.  Recently, she took a part-time job that helps her provide for herself and her 4 year old son, Vance.  The Ehlers-Danlos makes it impossible for her to pick up her little boy and presents unique challenges to parenting; but they are a team and take great care of one another sharing imagination and curiosity and a love of books and learning.  He’s her inspiration to take great care of her own health and outlook.

In addition to her commitment to health and fitness, caring for Vance and working, Reina is an artist focusing primarily on photography and Shibaru, an ancient Japanese art created by the tying of knots in intricate patterns. Occasionally, she travels to speak and present her art at fairs and conferences around the Midwest.    She also serves on the board of the Center for Equality and is an advocate and mentor for LGBT youth.

Reina Parker is without a doubt, a fabulous Fitness Hero.

Turkey Burn

 

Talk to the Fitness Specialists to get the scoop on this year’s Turkey Burn taking place beginning November 1.  Do you see a new T-shirt in your future?  You could be a Turkey Burn Winner!

It’s gonna be HOT!

 _DSC3207

Ignite your inner warrior and have a blast of fun too.  Feel the power of music and action as you punch, kick and block your way to strength, endurance and balance in this new kickboxing experience.

Everyone from beginner to advanced will walk away from this class feeling empowered and motivated.

No sign-up necessary.  Karri Stearns leads Cardio Kickboxing on Friday mornings at 8:45am in the Aerobic Studio beginning Friday, August 8th.

Water liliesAvera Outpatient Physical Therapy at the Avera McKennan Fitness Center has expanded hours, services and staff available so that all of your physical therapy needs can be met at this location, including and not limited to:

  • Orthopedics
  • Neuro
  • Aquatics
  • Balance
  • Womens Health
  • Sports

Also, it’s now easier to manage the cost of physical therapy care with the recent change to a clinic copay model.   In most cases, an appointment with a physical therapist only requires only a clinic copay.  In the past, such charges instead were applied to your deductible.  Health insurance plans vary, so it’s important to check with your provider regarding your specific plan and coverage.

Stop in or call 322-5080 to schedule an appointment.