The Get REAL & HEEL, a fitness and exercise training group for cancer patients and survivors, aids in the fight against cancer by improving the quality of life for cancer patients.
The program provides participants with the ability to get their health back on track, both physically and mentally. The exercise training is designed to alleviate stress from the tedious process of cancer treatment and recovery, as well as to provide a support group and community of people who are in it together in trying to rid the symptoms of cancer from their lives.
“The ultimate mission of the program is to help the patients live the best quality of life they can possibly live in the context of their disease,” said Claudio Battaglini, director and co-founder of the Get REAL & HEEL Program.
Battaglini was originally an endurance sports coach at the international level, with some of his athletes achieving World Champion status and Pan-American Champion status and making Olympic Game appearances.
After leaving the University of Northern Colorado, he began to conduct research in the study of exercise oncology and he was later prompted to train a cancer patient instead of an athletic champion.
He then worked for Rocky Mountain Cancer Rehabilitation Institute – the first facility of its kind in the country. In 2004, he brought the idea to UNC by starting in the exercise physiology program, then co-founding the Get REAL & HEEL Program two years later with assistant professor of exercise and sport science Diane Groff.
The program enrolls each participant in a period of 16 weeks of supervised exercise three days per week for one hour per day. The facility is open for participants to come in on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, anytime from 7:00 a.m. to about 7:30 p.m., Battaglini said.
Each session, with a group of five to eight participants, includes a warm-up of aerobic and cardiovascular exercises, using various machines and equipment adapted to each individual’s needs and setbacks for about 30 minutes, Battaglini said.
Next, the group transitions to a resistance training circuit with a plethora of strength-building exercises, which every participant takes at their own pace. Depending on the individual, different muscles are strengthened, said DJ Amatuli, one of two trainers for Get REAL & HEEL.