Gerri Y.

{Member}Raleigh, NC

Trax Transformations

My Story: Although, my initial reason for an exercise program is for my heart and overall health, not weight loss.  I had 2 angioplasty procedures 4/10, 1993 and 4/30, 1993.  I was lucky to survive them, making it to my daughter Amanda’s graduation from Tufts University 5/19/1997.  Just before 7/4 that year, I experienced the same pain in my throat while walking up our drive way.  I called my cardiologist, he arranged for a nuclear stress test on 7/5, bad news, I was transported to UMASS, Worcester and an emergency triple heart by-pass procedure was done on 7/10/1997.  I had stopped smoking and was in cardio rehab at UMASS Marlborough Hospital when I had by-pass. My right coronary artery was blocked by restenosis of the stents. I returned to cardio rehab and finally cardio maintenance.  Eventually my husband Peter joined me in cardio maintenance. Finally, around 2006, we joined a local gym where I participated in classes.  

In June of 2010, we relocated to Raleigh, NC to be close to our daughter, son in law and grandsons. Joining Silver Sneakers and Healthtrax in July or August 2010. Although I loved SS, I soon tried FIT FOR LIFE, then GROUP ACTIVE, staying with GROUP ACTIVE until it was not a humongous challenge. GROUP GROOVE had just started, I was at the initial launch, loving it. I always did the X-PRESS CIRCUIT. Next came GROUP CORE, I was addicted. Then GROUP FIGHT, just loved it! Along the way, I won time with a Personal Trainer, and I would do whatever they suggested every other day.  Before I knew it, I was doing GROUP CENTERGY, wow.  Karen (Group Fitness Instructor) urged me to try GROUP POWER, it was so important for me.  Allison (The Group Fitness Director) was a constant encouragement, I so love seeing her smiling face at Healthtrax. Eventually I wanted to become a Silver Sneaker Instructor.  I inquired with Allison, she gave me the contact info for the SilverSneakers certification, I earned my certifications.  Cindy (Group Fitness Instructor) allowed me to understudy her SilverSneaker Class, she had me do the warm up, then other parts of the class until her and Allison felt I was ready to teach a full class.  I taught my first class two years ago the Friday before Memorial Day, and at the last minute they needed someone to do Fit For Life before, why not!  In addition to subbing Group Fitness classes I took a part time position in the Kid Zone.  It wasn’t long before I got my own SilverSneakers class.  

April 20, 2018 I went for a regular checkup at my cardiologist’s office. All seemed fine. I have PAD in my right leg, he decided to send me for a test I had two years back to assess if there was any change. The Technician noticed I was out of breath on the treadmill when I had not been 2 years back. She suggested a nuclear stress test be performed. Two days later it was, showing I had only 19% heart capacity!  A subsequent echo cardiogram showed 30%.  I was told to stop working. An angiogram was performed at Duke Durham Hospital, which resulted in a 6/8 by pass redo at Duke Medical Pavilion, Durham.  Surgery took 7&1/2 hours, 2 weeks at Duke, 1 week in rehab facility. 6 weeks home with visiting nurse, PT, Aide. Finally, back to cardio rehab 8/25.  There were issues, Cardio Rehab stopped and restarted several times. Finally, 10/28 I experienced a steady pain in the center of my chest which did not stop. After  going to the ER it was determined that I most likely had not experienced a heart attack but should contact my cardiologist in the am. I did, he saw me at 1 pm on 10/29, admitting me to Duke University Hospital, an angiogram was performed the morning of 10/30, it was a difficult situation, the presiding surgeon asked my daughter to make a decision, she decided the surgeons should talk it over with my cardiologist. On 10/31, they had a plan, at 5 pm that evening an angioplasty procedure was performed plus an unusual procedure they dragged their “rotor rooter” out of the basement of Duke University Hospital and went through the wall of the heart opening an area which has given me significantly more blood flow.  

After a week, I returned to cardio rehab and graduated on January 28.  The following Monday I began working out at Healthtrax.  At first with my treadmill hill workout, increasing the level, speed and time as my heart rate tolerated.  I did the healthy start program with Eric (Personal Trainer). To this day, I do his prescribed exercises and the two classes he suggested.  Allison (Group Fitness Director) and my former boss has been so helpful. Allison suggested I take MOVE30, a movement class that uses the ViPR which is amazing.  Cindy (Group Fitness Instructor) has been so supportive, she teaches BALANCE POSTURE, SILVERSNEAKERS, AQUA, GROUP RIDE and GROUP ACTIVE. Andjie and Melissa (both Group Fitness Instructors) who teach GROUP ACTIVE and GROUP GROOVE are amazingly encouraging!

Since I have been back I have been able to participate in FIT FOR LIFE, GROUP GROOVE and GROUP FIGHT, which really is amazing.  I could not walk when I returned home last July.  I attend BALANCE POSTURE MOVEMENT as well as MOVE30.  

Little by little, one step at a time, I am becoming the person I was before major heart surgery last June.  Most important, the many Duke heart surgeons who operated on me credit my exercise program with my survival and recovery.   If it were not for Healthtrax I may never have been in the physical shape needed for my battle against heart disease.  A progressive exercise regime along with healthy eating is priceless!

I’m different because exercise & healthy eating were part of my life for 13 years before joining Healthtrax.  However, my fellow “traxers” and the Healthtrax community give me a huge incentive to show up every day, we all motivate one another. I love my gym!