There’s something about Andrea Leonard, CSCS, CES, creator of the Cancer Exercise Training Institute and acclaimed personal trainer, that feels inevitable. There’s a charisma, a vision that suggests she would have found success wherever she looked for it. Yet from a young age her fight has been with cancer.
You wouldn’t know it from her disarming exuberance, but cancer has been Leonard’s companion since she was diagnosed with the disease as a high school student. That experience set her on a 37-year path that has led to her life’s work: the Cancer Exercise Training Institute.
“I thought becoming a personal trainer would help me with my own issues with cancer while being able to help other people as well,” Leonard explains. “At that point I wasn’t thinking about creating exercise programs for cancer patients.”
Then things got even more personal.
“When my mother went through breast cancer, she sustained permanent nerve damage that could have been prevented with exercise, was never told about lymphedema, and was never told to move her affected arm, resulting in a frozen shoulder, years of painful physical therapy, and a narcotics addiction to manage the pain.”
But just helping her mom wasn’t enough. “I approached my mom’s breast surgeon about writing a book about exercises to help with breast cancer recovery, and she thought it sounded like a great idea,” Leonard explains.
That was in 1995; and the book Essential Exercises for Breast Cancer Survivors was released in 2000 after years of research. Since then, expanding her influence to other healthcare providers has been a primary goal for Leonard.
“I realized there was a much bigger need for training than just breast cancer survivors…I can only work so many hours a week, so I wanted to create an army of Cancer Exercise Specialists®. What started off as a 40-page book is now around 500 pages.”
13 editions (constantly updated to reflect the most current research) of her original book, 14,000+ health and fitness professionals, and 45 countries later, her mission seems to be catching on. The Cancer Exercise Training Institute, which she formed in 2004, now offers dozens of online classes that can lead to certification in areas like cancer exercise, functional aging, and breast cancer recovery. Her exercise programs now help patients cope with 27 different types of cancer, and she is recognized by organizations such as ACE, AAHF, AFAA, Australia Fitness, Canfitpro, CIMSPA, Functional Aging Institute, IDEA, ISSA, MedFit, NASM, NSCA, AND NFPT as a leading cancer exercise specialist.
Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (RMUoHP) is proud to partner with Andrea Leonard to help connect even more health professionals with what she has to offer through her Cancer Exercise Specialist® Advanced Qualification Course.
“No matter what someone’s specialty is, they usually don’t have enough training in oncology. So even if you’re a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, an exercise physiologist—this gives you the information to broaden your patient base and fill a huge gap in care.”
Her Cancer Exercise Specialist® Advanced Qualification Course—now offered through RMUoHP’s Continuing Education program—helps healthcare providers fill that knowledge gap and then some.
“It’s the Holy Grail of cancer exercise training.” Leonard explains, “the most transformative course you can take.”
The course focuses on the role exercise plays in cancer prevention, during treatment, during recovery, and long-term survivorship. She asserts that there’s no catch-all exercise prescription for cancer patients, so healthcare professionals need to evaluate factors on a case-by-case basis to develop a program to fit a specific patient’s needs.
“It’s our most comprehensive course. You’ll learn how different surgeries, treatments, lymphedema risks, and side effects combine to impact a cancer patient’s overall health. Then we’ll teach you how to use assessment protocols to determine an exercise prescription for each patient.”
It’s a complex process, but the curriculum walks you through evaluating each situation, then offers exercise prescriptions geared toward your individualized plan.
“You can’t guess with cancer patients,” Leonard explains, “because their health is so much more fragile.”
“You have to address the person as a whole because they might be on hormonal therapy, or at elevated risk of osteoporosis, or have a higher risk of heart and lung damage because of their chemotherapy. No matter your healthcare specialty, you need to learn to apply these factors to your work with cancer patients.”
Her message is stark and urgent: You can never know enough when working with cancer patients. But with the Cancer Exercise Specialist® Advanced Qualification Course, you will gain essential information and strategies for responsible exercise updated to include the latest evidence-based research.
“Through our institute you’re fulfilling continuing education requirements, increasing your patient base, and truly changing lives.”
Cancer, after all, is inevitable. Thankfully, so are people like Andrea Leonard who equip others with tools to empower their patients.
To access the Cancer Exercise Training Institute’s Advanced Qualification course, visit RMUoHP’s Continuing Education website.
– – Mark Kremer, Marketing Content Writer