Reno fitness program being offered for cancer survivors

Published: Feb. 26, 2021 at 7:15 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - You. Have. Cancer. Words you never want to hear from a doctor. It’s a reality for thousands of Nevadans, almost all of us know someone affected. A south Reno gym has launched a new program specifically for this demographic to reclaim a healthy and confident lifestyle.

You may not think 70-year-old Ed Heywood and 30-year-old Kerry Kelly have much in common, but their bond is unique. Both are cancer survivors and current participants in the inaugural “Evoke Warriors Program,” lead by Evoke Fitness which is on South Virginia Street near WINCO.

“We don’t want this to be a six month program where they feel amazing and they look amazing at the end of the program, and then they don’t have the life skills they need to continue,” owner Mena Spodobalski explains. “I told them I might have to wait and do next year’s program and not this year, but recovery and things went real good after the surgery and so I jumped in,” Heywood tells us. Kelly adds, “It’s not just physical, its not just nutrition, its emotional mental health, that feeling of belonging. The group that knows what you’re going through, that’s really what I need right now and I think a lot of people who are going through this diagnosis need.”

Heywood is dealing with prostate cancer and Kelly is battling breast cancer. The participants commit to six months. They’re either currently battling cancer or received that devastating diagnosis. The program offers nutrition guidance, workouts, and sessions with a life coach free of charge. Sometimes it’s the conversations that serve as the greatest therapy as Kelly details, “I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy but I feel a sense of belonging that I haven’t felt during this journey and that’s really important to me.” “Everybody’s working within themselves, you’re not working against the person next to you, we’re supporting each other,” Heywood adds.

“Telling your family that you have cancer is hard, doing that last push up is not as hard as that and so I think that’s the biggest thing to remember, getting healthy and taking your life back is not as hard as all the stuff we’ve gone through during the cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment,” Kelly says through tears.

Studies show a lower body mass index, increased fitness and nutrition can help lower the likelihood of cancer returning. “I’m excited to see what myself and the group looks like in six months because I know this is where we begin and we’re going to be a lot stronger when we finish,” Kelly says with excitement. As it is often said, the finish line is just the beginning of a new race.

We thank Evoke Fitness for allowing us behind the scenes access. The program is full now and wraps up in September. We’ll be following Kerry and Ed’s progress. Another check up is in the works midway through the summer.


Evoke Fitness in south Reno has created a specialized workout and nutrition regimen for men and women currently suffering from cancer or in the recovery process. The free program lasts 6 months and is designed to meet the unique needs and goals of each participant through nutritional advice, a workout plan for healthy fat loss, cardiovascular health and muscle gain and a detailed, custom meal plan.

Space is limited to 15 participants and applications must be submitted here by March 10, 2021. If selected, participants will start the program on March 29, working toward a reveal party set for September 11.

According to staff at Evoke Fitness, an increasing amount of research confirms exercise can improve physical and mental health during every phase of cancer, including after cancer survival. Experts suggest that following an exercise plan during and after treatment may reduce the risk of depression and anxiety, lower the chance of having physical side effects and may even improve survival rates for certain cancers.

To participate, sponsor an athlete or donate, contact Mena at or call 775-722-3384.

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