A New Wealth of Health
Thursday, October 4, 2018

Center for Health & Fitness member Joan Bero gave up her career to be healthy. As new barriers have arisen, she’s decided to remain dedicated to her own well-being.

Joan Bero lived and breathed healthcare while working as the CEO for a San Francisco Bay Area hospital.  Unfortunately, her own health didn’t reflect this.

Bero frequently toiled long hours at her desk and had little to no time to take lunch breaks. By the time she’d arrive home at the end of the day, all she wanted to do was sleep before waking up and doing it all over again. Further complicating life were her weekly flights to and from Los Angeles for business.

This lifestyle began to take a toll on her physical and mental health. Though Bero had not yet reached retirement age, the Hermosa Beach resident decided to quit working to put her health back on track. Fast forward to present day and 75-year-old Bero is enjoying retirement, although she’s faced a few health obstacles along the way.

Last winter, Bero began to feel severe pain in her right hip. Navigating daily life became a chore and getting out of bed was painful. Thinking this may have something to do with her knee replacements, she reluctantly went to the doctor. It turns out neither her knees or hips were the culprit -- however her fitness was. The doctor prescribed physical therapy and told Bero it was imperative that she strengthen her quads and core.

Following doctor’s orders, Bero hobbled into Beach Cities Health District’s Center for Health & Fitness (CHF), a medically-based community gym in Redondo Beach. She had been a CHF member years ago and preferred the center’s focus on preventive health.

“People are here (CHF) because they want to be,” explained Bero. “Physical therapy has more of a traditional model and can be limiting. CHF has a lighthearted feel and I knew that would be a better fit for me.”

Bero was set on finding a personal trainer to alleviate her pain and help her feel motivated.  She spoke with two trainers at the front desk and received the same answer: she would be a perfect fit to workout with Annelise Tripp, CHF’s new Medical Exercise Specialist. Tripp, a Certified Functional Patterns Practitioner, focuses on corrective exercises for people with specific medical conditions. More recently, she also became certified as a Cancer Exercise Trainer.

Unbeknownst to Bero, this was also Tripp’s first day at CHF.

“I believe things happen for a reason,” Bero admitted. “I happened to come here that day and those other trainers decided I needed to meet her … and bam! I liked her the minute I met her.”

Since February, Bero and Tripp meet twice a week to workout. The sessions include a few weight machines, lots of stretches, balance exercises and resistance training.

“I was her first client and we’re taking this journey together,” Bero beamed.

Their workouts have even withstood Bero’s recent eye surgery and the removal of squamous cell carcinoma on her leg. After the eye operation, Bero was under strict orders not to bend, squat, kneel or strain any of her muscles. However, this didn’t mean she took a break from the gym – it meant Tripp rearranged the workouts to fit within these new boundaries. A few short weeks later, the pair focused on arm exercises to avoid the use of her leg where the cancer had been removed.

“She’s so patient! Surgery of any kind doesn’t matter because she’ll figure out a way to work around it and I personally need that. You don’t take breaks with Annelise,” laughed Bero.

Bero has reached the end of her physical therapy prescription, but has no intention of giving up her sessions with Tripp. Since February, she’s seen her blood pressure go down and no longer experiences pain in her hip. In fact, she feels more mobile than she has in a long time.

“I am absolutely in better shape now than two years ago,” she smiled. “No question about that.”

As Bero’s health continues to progress, so does her relationship with Tripp. And though Bero often calls the exercises “outrageous!,” both women know she intends to do them fully — and most importantly, with a positive attitude.

“Joan never complains, and I’ve seen this beautiful shift to her being confident in her movements,” Tripp said.  “It’s really inspiring to me that she’s overcome a lot of setbacks and always comes back to exercise.”