Three Keys to Cancer Exercises

Three keys to cancer exercises

I have an interview for you today with Dean Somerset.

Dean just created a program for fitness professionals who work with clients who have cancer:


Let’s get right to the questions:

RK: You have done a few guest blog posts for Exercises For Injuries. Tell us a little more about yourself as it applies to exercises and injuries

DS: I’d love to say that I got into this because I was interested in helping others from a casual observer and altruistic stance but, in all honesty, I had a lot of first-hand experience with injuries.Growing up as a dumb jock, I injured pretty much every place that could be injured and, as a result, I learned a lot about injuries from my own experiences.

From there, I initially wanted to get into physiotherapy, but the dumb jock in me wanted to stay in the performance realm. The gym rat in me did not want to work in a clinic, so I decided to get a degree in kinesiology along with some other certifications that would let me work with a very broad range of clientele in the most effective way possible. I currently have a CSCS designation, a Medical Exercise Specialist designation, and I am also working on completing a Certified Exercise Physiologist designation this coming summer.

I’ve been working as a personal trainer for the past 10 years, and over the last 4 years have been the Medical & Rehabilitation Coordinator for World Health Club, a health club chain with over 20 locations in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta. I work with the medical referrals in and out of our company as well as with the medical communications with over 100 allied health practitioners to ensure a continuum of care throughout recovery. I’m also working on trying to have insurance providers recognize personal training as a viable tool in the rehabilitation process.

I’ve also taught workshops, seminars, and courses to probably over 1000 fitness professionals from all across North America, and have also co-authored with you, Rick, and a few other cool people on Muscle Imbalances Revealed.  And I also write a fantastically awesome (and incredibly witty) blog at

RK: What are the three things that a fitness professional should do with a client recovering from cancer?

DS:  The most important thing is to treat them like everyone else, exactly like others who have some sort of medical dysfunction, injury, or even need assistance with simple goal setting.

I’m sure no one out there wants to be coddled or told “poor you” by everyone they meet, and I’m sure your clients don’t want that either. Be empathetic, but expect them to get better, and keep them optimistic about their training and their health.

Ask about their day, the weather, their bratty kids, or even which team is going to win the Stanley Cup this year (It definitely won’t be the Oilers!!!). Make them feel comfortable in knowing  that you acknowledge their disease but are willing to look past it to see who they are and what they can do.

Keep their workout areas spotlessly clean. The gym is a filthy, disgusting place, full of sweat, bacteria, dirt, and all sorts of ither things that can make someone with a compromised immune system sick. If they get sick, they get REALLY sick, and may even die from it, so pack a sanitizer around like a six shooter and clean everything they come in contact with both before they use it and after they use it. Be sure that they wash their hands or use a sanitizer after using any equipment.

Last, but certainly one of the most redundant, is MAKE THEM FIT!!! Push them a little, as long as they can tolerate it and it’s in the right part of their treatment schedule where they can handle slightly higher intensities, and give them a physical outlet where they can see some progress.

I worked with one woman at the university research facility who had never worked out prior to getting breast cancer, and she set out to run a marathon the month after her last treatment. She started with short and slow runs, and eventually moved up to running 7 miles in an hour, then completed a half marathon while bald from treatments, and then managed to complete her marathon in 4 hours and 32 minutes, less than one month after her final treatment and one year from her diagnosis. No one is immune from the benefits of exercise, and cancer patients are absolutely no exception.

It is Rick again.

Thank you so much, Dean.

I will be back tomorrow with more of the interview with Dean.

Until then, take care.

Rick Kaselj, MS