BY KIM HOCHMAN
I am a 47-year-old mother to three young girls, ages 14, 12 and 8.
For years, I focused on their well-being over my own. In fact, every day as I drove my youngest to pre-school, I would pass a gym and say to myself, “I really need to get back to a healthy place mentally and physically.”
It took six years, but I finally made the first step and I haven’t looked back since. As they say in the Crossfit world, I drank the Kool-Aid! I grew to love the people, the workouts and how they made me feel mentally. That led me to begin coaching and to become a certified CrossFit Trainer. Seven years later, I’m still addicted to the feeling that this workout gives me!
Health, fitness, holistic nutrition and well-being have long been passions of mine. But it wasn’t until three years ago — when my 64-year-old mother was diagnosed with alcohol-induced dementia — that I truly start advocating for women’s health.
I, along with the help of my amazing husband and sweet girls, have been caregiving for my mother for the past two years. It’s been an extremely tough time for all of us, but there has also been a silver lining in it: the experience has taught us sacrifice, patience, compassion, and how to strengthen our family bond.
As I’ve watched what my mother has gone through, I’ve become obsessed with information about Alzheimer’s, dementia and brain health. I read everything and anything, especially stories about prevention and ways that we can be proactive about our brain health. So, when I read about Move for Minds in Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper newsletter (which has become part of my weekly ritiual), I knew I had to get involved.
I decided to create my own “for minds” fundraiser at my gym. My idea was to design a week of workouts and information specifically focused on brain health and offer it to our community of clients during Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.
I created a team page through The Women’s Alzheimers Movement website and, with the help of my co-workers, we began promoting our upcoming brain health awareness week on social media. My goal was to provide awareness, information and workouts that challenged our clients, while raising money for WAM. To do that, I utilized a lot of the information Move for Minds provided and designed our week around six focus areas: exercise, nutrition, well-being, social connection, brain training, and sleep.
Each day was dedicated to one of these six areas. In addition to our workout in the gym, we also offered our clients an at-home challenge.
Day 1’s focus was Nutrition. We did a workout with a weighted barbell plate to convey the fact that what you put on your dinner plate is crucial to brain health. The home was to “eat the rainbow” and for our clients to post a picture of their plates on our gym’s Facebook page.
Day 2’s focus was Social Connection. This involved a partner workout to stress the importance of social interaction. We had our clients partner with someone they didn’t know in class to make a new friend. The at-home challenge was to text, call or visit someone they had been meaning to catch up with.
Day 3’s focus was to “Move Your Mind” by learning something new and changing it up! The workout was a brain-teaser card game that had us running in the opposite direction of what we normally run. (Remembering how to do it was tricky.) The at-home was to try and do things with your non-dominant hand throughout the day, like brushing your teeth, eating or opening doors. I also made a personalized search word puzzle with words that tied back to our gym lingo. The printed copies were given out to clients after their workout.
Day 4’s focus was Exercise. Our workout for the day was a “Field Day” obstacle course. Then, the at-home challenge was just to move – grab a friend, your dog, your neighbor’s dog, whomever or whatever ….just fit it in!
Day 5’s focus was Well-Being. Our workout was made up of stations using dumbbells that worked every part of the body, while we used our mind to focus. The at-home challenge was to find 12 minutes of quiet time that day.
Day 6’s focus was Sleep. Our workout was a 5000-meter run broken up, since that much running in a day should equal a good night’s sleep. Our at-home challenge was to get 8 hours of quality sleep that night.
Each day throughout our brain health week, I posted on social media about what we were doing that day and about the importance of brain health. Throughout the days, I also posted helpful videos and images tying back to each of our focus areas. We also set up a table in the gym with information about Alzheimer’s and asked clients to donate a workout to someone they knew who had suffered, or is suffering, from the disease.
I had no idea what to expect from doing this fundraiser. That’s why I was completely shocked when we raised almost $2,000 for The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement. It was such an amazing week!
The feedback we’ve gotten from friends, family & clients has been so positive and uplifting. I’m grateful to have the platform to share this information with others and had so much fun planning the brain health week.
My passion is to help spread this important brain health message to as many people as possible. We are already looking forward to doing this next year at the gym!
Many thanks to Maria Shriver, The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, my friends, family and clients of Level Up Hit for making this yaer such a success!
Wherever you are, whenever you’re able, you can plan your own fundraiser to raise awareness of brain health and benefit The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement. Click here to learn how.