Interview with RanDee Anshutz, Owner & Operator
Chelsea: Synergy’s upcoming WalkStrong program is something that you’re really passionate about. Tell me how this program came to be.
RanDee: We developed WalkStrong three years ago to address a gap we saw in our fitness training community. Our team of massage therapists and nutritionists were involved in sponsoring local training programs and events. As we looked around at the athletes we served, we saw that most folks were able-bodied, fit and living in smaller sizes. We had discussions as a group about how this environment may be intimidating to some people; we realized that we weren’t seeing people in larger bodies, people who weren’t already physically fit, differently abled folks or people new to physical activity. Sure, these programs were welcoming to everyone, but they weren’t marketed or designed for all bodies. We decided to create a program specifically for people who weren’t already represented.
Chelsea: It’s been three years since the program launched. How has it evolved since that time?
RanDee: We are now in our sixth season of WalkStrong. An incredible phenomenon is that many people return season after season. Some even stay connected in between seasons and walk together. A few whom started as participants have advanced to peer coaches; this design creates a non-threatening, supportive environment.
We’ve seen these athletes reach walking distances of 5k and 10k. Initially we only offered a 5k option but many of our athletes wanted to return and try to push their bodies to another distance.
Chelsea: Why do you keep offering the program? What about it speaks to your heart the most?
RanDee: Our athletes are achieving improved physical fitness — which is amazing — but that’s not what’s most important to me. What’s most important is that they’ve built community, met new friends, learned new things about themselves, and built self-confidence. That is why we do this work. I believe that a sense of community and belonging is just as important as physical fitness when we’re looking at the total health picture. There’s research out of BYU looking at all-cause mortality, and social isolation was the number one factor related to all causes of death — it wasn’t smoking, nutrition, physical activity or managing health conditions — it was having support systems and engaging with others. Of course those other factors are important too, but the research reinforces that we are social beings. That’s why we need WalkStrong. The athletes that have been drawn to this program are unique in their ability to welcome and support everyone; no one has ever been left out.
Chelsea: Fitness training programs aren’t the primary service offered at Synergy. How have you made this program work through the years?
RanDee: We keep the costs of WalkStrong low — it’s a self-supporting program that we really don’t generate any profit from. Offering the program is us living our message — helping everyone, in every body, to thrive. We want to remove barriers or obstacles to living a life that is rich and fulfilled. Over the years, we’ve developed relationships with community partners whose sponsorship dollars allow us to give need-based scholarships. This extends our message that we are here for people of all abilities, including ability to pay. The program fee is $125 for 12 weeks of twice-weekly training walks. Coached walks are held Tuesdays at 6pm and Saturdays at 8:30am. Info and registration nights will be hosted at FootZone, 842 NW Wall Street, in Bend on September 7 and 10 at 6pm.
Chelsea: WalkStrong isn’t the only big happening at Synergy. You also have a new American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) accredited diabetes program. What’s the connection?
RanDee: We use this same community-building approach that we emphasize with WalkStrong to inform our diabetes program and all of the work that we do. Through the classes we offer, participants learn with and from one another, which complements the education offered by our facilitators, who are registered dietitian nutritionists and certified diabetes educators. The four-week series helps those living with diabetes feel empowered to improve their health from many different angles. Everything from diabetes basics to managing medications and coping skills is addressed in this program, which most insurances cover. Thrive with Diabetes is held on Saturday mornings, September 8-29 from 9-11am at Synergy. Advanced registration and physician referral is required.
WalkStrong and Thrive with Diabetes are offered by Synergy Health & Wellness, Central Oregon’s leading provider of diabetes services through a clinic offering massage therapy, nutrition counseling and education, grocery store tours, and movement programs for people of all abilities, in a size-inclusive practice.
Synergy Health & Wellness, 361 NE Franklin Ave., Building C, Bend.
Register at synergyhealthbend.com or 541-323-3488, insurance referral fax 541-323-3483