Fitness: It’s a Matter of Life and Death

Ever since my Aunt Tess passed away a few weeks ago, mortality has been on my mind. Our family has a history of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Aunt Tess’s passing leaves indelible grief in my heart, and is an abrupt reminder of my family’s laundry list of health problems. I’m sharing this story with the hope it could potentially help others overcome their health issues, and perhaps prolong their time with their families.

My Aunt Tess spent her life circumventing something that potentially could have improved her health: fitness. Aunt Tess worked in an office/lab most of her life. She worked hard to support her two children as a single mother and fitness always took a backseat to that.

Bill Campbell has been a resident of Seattle his whole life, he graduated from both Roosevelt high school and the UW.

As she grew older, I know she used her age as an excuse not to exercise, but it is never too late to pick up fitness.  Just look at Community fitness’s own Bill Campbell.

Mr. Campbell sat down with me recently to tell me the story of how he reengaged with fitness in his late sixties. For more than thirty years, Mr. Campbell spent a large portion of his life at a desk job that promoted a sedentary and mentally taxing lifestyle

“I was working on the phone for hours on end every day. I just sat there, and slowly lost a connection with my body,” Bill explained.

The 68 year old believes the lost connection with his body directly contributed to his eventual diagnosis of prostate cancer. He believes the cancer developed because of how unfit he was from years of being stationary.

Mr. Campbell shared that after the cancer diagnosis, he fell into a deep depression. The hormone and radiation treatments took a toll on his already weakened body. To clear his mind, he began walking the surrounding streets of Green Lake, when he stumbled upon Community Fitness.

“What I found was the best workout studio I’ve ever encountered, ever, and I’m dead serious,” exclaimed an enthusiastic Mr. Campbell.

I was manning the front desk last year when Bill came in to take his first class. He took Amanda Boden’s Barre class- which he admitted kicked his butt- and he has been hooked ever since.

According to our records at Community Fitness, Bill had taken 82 barre classes between when he started on October 29th 2016 to March 25th 2017. The reason March 25th is significant is because that was the day that he took his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and was officially declared as in remission.

“I honestly believe Barre saved my life. I was able to reconnect with my body and I found my next passion which is modern dance,” Bill explained.

Mr. Campbell is now enrolled in an intensive course in modern dance at The Velocity Dance Center, and is still regularly taking Barre classes at our Flow studio. Furthermore, he is taking Karate lessons and also plays pick-up basketball at Seattle University on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Now that Bill has reconnected with his fitness, he can reflect on how miserable he was during that 34 year period of inactivity.

Rest in peace. Aunt Tess will be remembered for her strong character and her unwavering devotion as a single mother.

“It was the worst time of my life. I just wish I would have found Community Fitness sooner. I wish I would have found Barre sooner. But I am grateful now because without Barre, I don’t think I would be in remission and I might be dead.”

Fitness is more to me than a lifestyle choice. It’s more than a means to losing weight, or getting fit for summer. Aunt Tess had a similar job to Bill in that it kept her at a desk for several hours at a time. I know she never regarded fitness as a priority and it is tragic to me that I never pushed her to be more active.

Fitness helped Bill Campbell break out of his depression and overcome his illness. and I can only dream of what it could have done to help my Aunt in her life.

Your friendly neighborhood fitness blogger,

Andrew Avillanoza

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