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Our Story

Many years of research conducted by Dr. Winters-Stone and others have shown that those living with and beyond cancer benefit from physical activity. Tangible benefits of exercise and movement for people with a variety of cancers and at different stages include improvements in physical function, energy levels, weight/BMI, bone and muscle health, psychosocial function, sleep quality, and overall quality of life.

At Oregon Health & Science University, Dr. Winters-Stone’s studies have shown time and again that specifically designed exercise programs can restore bone and muscle health, physical functioning, and healthier body composition (less fat, more muscle), all of which are made worse by cancer treatments. To date, these results have failed to reach the people that most need it - cancer survivors struggling with the lingering side effects and symptoms that make it difficult to return to the lives they led before cancer or even trying to lead healthier lives.

Unfortunately, very few exercise programs are available for cancer survivors who aren’t enrolled in a research study. In 2014, knowing how many more cancer survivors could benefit from exercise programs, Dr. Winters-Stone and her project director of 8 years, Jessica Sitemba, decided to take matters into their own hands and co-founded FIT Together to provide evidence-based exercise and movement classes to cancer survivors and their caregivers.

All FIT Together classes take place online but have the look, feel, safety, and energy of an in-person class. Spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, early in 2020 classes transitioned online which broadened tremendously their reach to new potential FIT Together participants. FIT Together now has participants joining from all across the state of Oregon, East coast of the USA, and even Europe. The online environment allows FIT Together to maximize not only its reach but also increases convenience for participants - no more time spent commuting, as well as being a more inclusive setting for those participants with mobility challenges and/or transportation limitations.

FIT Together classes are all held in a group format. It is well-known that social support during exercise, from an instructor and from classmates, can increase a person's likelihood to continue exercising in the long term. FIT Together classes capitalize on this phenomenon by promoting a sense of community, connection, and support among participants who, at a minimum, share the challenge of dealing with cancer, cancer treatment, and/or supporting a person with cancer. This distinguishes FIT Together from other community-based fitness programs.

Even though classes are taught in a group setting, FIT Together instructors are highly experienced in individualizing and tailoring movements and exercises to accommodate each person's needs, making classes a collaborative experience for all. Taken together, the evidence-based, professionally led, accessible, and supportive structure of FIT Together classes make them an ideal program for people who are looking to stay active before, during, and after cancer treatment, as well as those that support and care for a person with cancer.

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