News

Juniper Celebrates 2,000 Class

7/8/2022

An important milestone!

Juniper is excited to celebrate our 2,000th class. The Juniper network commemorated the milestone with participants of an Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program class, led by Live 2 B Healthy®/Nygard Fitness, at the Hastings Senior Center. We marked the occasion with photos, balloons and a special fruit snack.

“We’re excited to acknowledge this momentous occasion in our six-year history,” said Sarah Blonigan, Juniper network director. “Since the beginning, Juniper has been a leader in the innovation of wellness classes for Minnesotans. We’re proud to partner with class providers and leaders to expand our class offerings and bring evidence-based classes to even more people around the state, so they can feel good and get fit.”

The Hasting Senior Center has partnered with Juniper and class provider Live 2 B Healthy since early this year. Laurie Thrush, coordinator of the center, said, “The class has attracted people who had given up on exercise. It has had a big impact.”

One such outcome is that participants have gained strength — no matter what their challenges or ability level. Laurie mentioned two participants who are living with Parkinson’s disease: “The exercises are adaptable for them. The classes have helped them with their strength and balance.”

Class instructor Luke Rowh, who works with Live 2 B Healthy, agreed. “Strength is so important. I love helping people get strong. They tell me all the time, ‘Doing this task or activity is so much easier for me to do now.’ I see how much they’re benefitting from the class.”

A sense of community

As important as fitness results are, they’re not the only benefit of this class. Just as important is the community they’re building. It’s clear there’s a friendly, easy rapport between Luke and the participants, with laughs, jokes, encouragement and support happening throughout the hour-long class. Luke said, “They’re a fun crowd; they’re open to doing new things. And if someone can’t come to class, they will text me to say ‘Hi’ to the group for them. They check in on each other. It’s a good community.”

Luke believes that exercise should not only enhance functionality, fitness and pain relief, but it should be fun: “They’re enjoying it, which is great. We give them a reason to come back.”

And they certainly are doing just that. Kelly Nygard, co-owner of Live 2 B Healthy, said one participant told her this is the only exercise class she has stuck with. Another participant, Marie Trejo, is new to the class and is already a regular. “I love it,” she said. “Luke is so friendly and I’m feeling good.” Harold Christenson has attended the class faithfully for several months. “At first, I couldn’t do all of the exercises. But it’s getting easier, and Luke makes it fun!” Harold, who has osteoarthritis, said he’s not a candidate for surgery, so he hoped the class would help improve his everyday life.

“Some of the moves seem simple,” he said, cheerfully, “but they’ve had a great impact on my pain level. It’s way down . . . I’d say by about 80%! I don’t even take Tylenol regularly anymore. It is really amazing.” His doctor thinks so, too!

Word of mouth

Marie found out about the Arthritis Foundation class through a friend and now she’s spreading the word, too. “I’m going to tell more people in town about this class!” she said. When asked about what prompted him to attend, Harold joked, “My wife made me!” She also heard about it from a friend, who recommended it to the couple.

Marie and Harold aren’t the only ones whose friends suggested they try the class. According to Luke, “Word of mouth is really working. When we started this class in February, we had five people attending regularly. They started bringing friends. Now, about 15-20 people are regulars.”

Word of mouth is powerful. Sarah said, “We have found through the years that it’s often the most powerful referral for Juniper’s wellness classes. People trust suggestions from friends and doctors because they trust their judgement.”

Better together

Laurie of the Hastings Senior Center praised the new partnership among the center, Juniper and Live 2 B Healthy: “It works so seamlessly. They take care of all the details and we’re the beneficiaries.”

With our statewide network, Juniper offers classes that help you manage your health, improve well-being and connect with others. You’ll find support, encouragement — and fun — in small group classes with friendly, trained leaders. Visit yourjuniper.org and find a class that works for you.

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