Getting A "Jump Start" On Exercise: The Jump Start Program at Saint Barnabas helps those new to exercise learn how to do it safely and effectively

Dena Amtman wanted to lose weight and be healthier. “I knew I need- ed to take better care of myself, especially as I am getting older,” says Amtman, 72, a retired New York City school teacher who lives in North Bergen. She had bariatric surgery about two years ago. As part of her weight-loss program, she consulted with a nutritionist and learned how to eat a healthier diet. “What was missing,” she adds, “was exercise.”

Amtman was a frequent walker, but felt like she needed more. While attending a bariatric surgery support group at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center, she noticed a flyer promoting something called the Jump Start program. This was a very basic introduction to exercise class for people with little or no background in exercising. The aim is to get them comfortable with exercise and teach them how to do it properly in order to help manage a variety of health issues, from high blood pressure and high cholesterol to diabetes and weight control. “It was perfect to go along with my aim to be healthy,” Amtman says.

Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center offers a variety of programming for the community that includes a robust and comprehensive plan linking nutritional counseling as well as preventative exercise classes. Along with the Jump Start program, special exercise classes include Risk Factor Modification (for those who have two or more risk factors for heart disease), Women’s Health (for those who have osteoporosis or osteopenia), Joint Instability and Balance, Rock Steady Boxing for Parkinson’s and cancer wellness. Getting started is as easy as getting in contact with their team of bachelors or master-level exercise physiologists for a complimentary pre-screening. Armed with that assessment, the physiologist can create an exercise program tailored to each patient’s needs and strive to achieve everyone’s individualized goals.

The classes meet at the Center for Health and Wellness at the Ambulatory Care Center twice a week and are in small groups of 10 or less. Participants in small group training not only build confidence in exercise ability, but build strong and motivational relationships. Classes like those offered in the Jump Start program are a great way to commit to change. The focus is on functional exercise with a range of activities that include low- to high-level fitness goals, each based on participant needs.

The exercise physiologists teach members how to exercise and use the equipment safely based on a participant’s limitations and issues. They find creative ways to adapt your fitness goals from simple to complex fitness needs. They also maintain an open dialogue with members to help them understand their bodies as well as why one needs to improve their fitness and health. After members complete the Jump Start program, they are then ready to move up to a more structured and advanced 12-week clinical prevention program to further improve their particular health issue.

The program was launched in September 2019 because the exercise physiologists saw a need for those whom the full 12-week class was beyond their scope. Amtman says joining the program gave her the motivation she needed to commit to exercise. “It gave me things that joining a gym club wasn’t going to give me,” she says. “The accountability of going has helped me do it, to make a commitment to myself and my future. I can’t tell you how much better my whole outlook has been from doing this. I have gotten in really good shape, my stamina is better and it is helping from the weight end of it. I was recently able to go hiking—I am doing things I didn’t think I could do.”

To join the Jump Start program, please call to schedule your free complimentary pre-screening and to have staff navigate you to the appropriate program. For more information, call 973-322-7014.