The Journey Program offers cancer patients a chance to regain confidence in their bodies.

The Journey Program is a free 10-week exercise program with classes in Traverse City and Frankfort. Participants do strength training, balance training, cardio, postural retraining, back and shoulder exercises, and core workouts. “There are studies out that say exercise during recovery can reduce recurrence of cancer and death,” says Annemarie Wigton, personal trainer and co-founder of the Journey Program.

Annemarie and Jean Mahoney started the Journey Program in 2009. “We want to give people confidence,” Annemarie says. “People going through cancer have had a lot of changes in their lives. By improving their strength and stamina we hope they have better independence in their home life and back at work. Just learning to trust their bodies again—it’s tough after what they’ve been through.”

Jean was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. During her recovery, she went through a similar exercise program. When her instructor left the Traverse City area, Jean knew she had to start her own program. “There’s nothing else out there that addresses this drop from being a cancer patient to going back to a normal life,” she says. “There’s no bridge there. Doctors work really hard at treating the patient, but there’s this disconnect from the end of treatment and the expectation of returning to normal living, so that’s where we come in.”

Cancer and treatments cause a range of side effects from swelling, joint pain and balance issues to depression and nausea. Because cancer affects everyone differently, the Journey Program works with individuals at their level. “We have people who are struggling to stand, and we have people who have worked out every day until the day of their diagnosis and continue to workout,” Jean says.

The Journey Program is offered four times a year. The Traverse City classes are held at Anytime Fitness located at 4000 Eastern Sky Dr. and are sponsored by Anytime Fitness of Traverse City and Fyzical Therapy and Balance Center of Traverse City. Frankfort classes are held at and sponsored by the Betsie Hosick Health and Fitness Center at 102 Airport Rd. Registration for classes is always open and reserves a spot in the next available class. A doctor’s note is required. Click here for registration forms and information.

Exercising improves participants’ strength, stamina, range of motion, balance, posture and sleeping patterns. Many participants start to experience a decrease in pain and fatigue within the first two or three weeks of the program. At the end of the 10 weeks, they’ll begin to notice physical changes. “After the program, they’re very much just beginning to see changes so our big thing is, ‘don’t stop now,’” Jean says.

Annemarie and Jean work with participants to set short and long term goals like completing a 5K or going golfing, and help them make a workout calendar. “Our goal is wherever they’re going after the 10 weeks—if they’re going to work out at home or at the gym—they’re comfortable,” Jean says. “They can continue exercising anywhere.”

During the last 10 minutes of every class, the group stops for discussions about different struggles and connects them to appropriate resources. “We’re not your traditional support group,” Annemarie says. “We’re really positive. Everyone who is here wants to be here to actively do something about their situation.”

In addition to the Journey Program, Annemarie and Jean also offer other classes for cancer patients and survivors.


  1. People currently undergoing treatment at the Cowell Family Cancer Center in Traverse City can take 30-minute beginner classes to help improve balance, posture and upper and lower body strength. Cost: $6 per class or 10-class punch card for $50
  2. The Journey Program is offered in Traverse City and Frankfort to newly diagnosed patients up to two years post treatment. Cost: Free
  3. A New Journey is for anybody who has had cancer. The classes are held at Anytime Fitness in Traverse City with Annemarie. Cost: $250 for 10-week program
  4. The Continuing Journey Program is for graduates of the Journey Program and A New Journey who want a little extra help. Participants come once a week to the gym in (offered in TC and Frankfort?) for an hour workout. Cost: varies

For more information, call (231) 276-2494 or click here to send a message.

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Photo(s) by Kathryn Davis