New Livestrong class set to begin in April

Jim McLeland of Conrad said a radical mastectomy and chemotherapy for breast cancer robbed him of chest muscles and left him weak.

While breast cancer in men is rare, McLeland’s primary concern after conquering the disease was to get back what he had lost.

And that is when the Emerson Process Management-Fisher Controls retiree turned to the Livestrong program, managed by the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA.

The free of charge, 12-week program is tailored to fit the specific needs of cancer survivors who wish to regain balance, endurance and strength enjoyed before cancer.

“I could tell I was getting stronger just after a few weeks of working out with weights and doing cardiovascular exercises,” McLeland said. “Before Livestrong, I did not have as much enthusiasm to be active, now I look forward to every class.”

McLeland said he also received a mental boost after openly discussing cancer and its after effects with other survivors.

Wife Sue McLeland has joined him for many Y workouts, as caregivers and spouses may participate free of charge as well.

Sue Fehrmann, Health and Wellness coordinator at the Y, wants to see more people like the McLelands take advantage of the program.

The Y is offering a spring session beginning in early April.

“Participating regularly in Livestrong has proven to increase the strength and physical agility of its participants,” she said. “Additionally, cancer survivors have found it helpful to talk openly about the disease with classmates and how it has affected them. We’ve had approximately 72 participants of all ages and backgrounds graduate since we started more than 2.5 years ago.”

Included are instruction in cardio-enhancement, nutrition, stretching, weight-training equipment and yoga.

Anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer is eligible, and one does not have to be a Y member to partake.

Founded in 1997 by cancer survivor and cyclist Lance Armstrong, Livestrong advocates for the estimated 28 million people around the world living with cancer today.

Karen Engesser, of Marshalltown, a recent Livestrong graduate, said the program made it comfortable for her to use the Y and its fitness equipment.

“And I definitely became stronger,” she said.

For more information, contact Fehrmann at 641-752-8658 or

Editor’s note: Reporter Donahey is a certified Livestrong instructor with the Marshalltown YMCA.