Larry Ingvalson and Missy Frank assist Marylynn Leiter

Physical therapists Larry Ingvalson and Missy Frank assist Marylynn Leiter in customized stretching and balancing exercises through the Fit and Well program at Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital. Another session of the course begins Oct. 11.

Fit and Well is the name of the customized exercise class for seniors taught by two physical therapists at Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital starting Oct. 11. 

The program is designed for pre and post individual assessments, with 12 group classes that show correct movements and safe exercising for improved balance, enhanced performance of daily activities and better health.

Physical Therapist Missy Frank said the program is a community outreach on wellness and prevention.

“I feel this is a bridge between going to physical therapy and going to the gym,” she said.

Larry Ingvalson, physical therapist, said the program can have a big impact.

“It is to help everyone with their functional fitness for their everyday lifestyles, improve their balance and just give them an exercise program to go home with so they can do it on their own,” Ingvalson said. “It will help them function easier in the community without falling.”

Ingvalson said the exercise program is personalized.

“We are able to give them an exercise program catered to their needs with proper techniques so they don’t have any injuries,” he said. “We are able to spend time with each person to make sure they understand their exercises and are doing them correctly for the most benefit to each person.”

Frank said the pre and post assessments were a component they added last time they taught the class.

“Everyone really liked it and were surprised at how much progress they had made in just six weeks,” she said. “It also helps us tailor that first day of class.”

“This will give them more confidence in their exercise that they can go into a gym, or exercise at home, and practice their exercises correctly for strength, balance and function, and live healthier overall,” Ingvalson said.

Frank said the class teaches when to add weight or increase intensity.

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“If you’re doing the same weight and same exercise program people tend to get into a rut over time,” she said. “You’re not going to benefit because you’re not challenging your body,”

Marylynn Leiter, 87, took the class once, signed up again and encourages everyone to take the class.

“The benefits outweigh the cost,” she said. “If one faces life with an attitude that you want to stay independent and healthy for as long as you can then you need to do your part,” she said. “Do everything that you can do to keep yourself mobile and viable in terms of being able to reach and stretch. Once you can’t then you’re pushing yourself to live with someone else or in a nursing home.”

Leiter said she enjoyed the physical therapists and class offerings.

“We older folks have a problem with balance and that is one leg of the stool that we work on in that class,” she said. “We do a variety of exercise that lead to the idea of ‘catch your balance.’”

Leiter said other legs of the program include developing core muscles, stretch and reach.

“If one exercise doesn’t work for you, they have another one, it is personalized,” she said. “They encourage you to do more than you think you can but they don’t push you to the point where you would have injury. They are very supportive.”

Leiter said the program is very different from other exercise classes that she has attended.

“It is much deeper in scope and wider in choices,” she said. “It is supervised. We work in a group for some of it but they watch and are around and among you all the time. These people understand all of the dynamics of the body.”

Leiter said she most appreciated a personalized checklist and descriptions the exercises taught in class.

“Throughout the class they present new exercises and this list is so clear that you couldn’t really make a mistake if you follow instructions,” she said. “I also really like the fact that I could purchase a punch card for full access to all areas for an hour each visit. I love it. I’m on my second card now.”

The Fit and Well Exercise Program meets from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Oct. 11 to Nov. 17 at the Marcus Daly Rehabilitation Center. The program costs $85 and includes the pre and post evaluations and 12 classes. Register by calling (406)375-4570.

Reach reporter Michelle McConnaha at 363-3300 or michelle.mcconnaha@ravallirepublic.com.