Gerber Memorial Hospital

For Tamarac fitness specialist, basics are the building blocks for lasting wellness – and joy

February 17, 2022

Jana Connors, fitness specialist at Tamarac

FREMONT, Mich., Feb. 17, 2022 – For Tamarac’s newest fitness specialist coordinator, simple basics of movement can be a foundation for long-term health, fitness and well-being.

“What I love doing as a fitness specialist at Tamarac is helping people move the right way so they can minimize stress and injury, while strengthening basic muscles that can help set them up for wellness and fitness through all stages of life and as they age,” Jana Connors said. “I help our members dig beyond surface goals and find out what’s really behind their desire to lose weight, have more energy and sleep better. Usually, that means connecting with what people truly enjoy in life, whether that’s something as simple as being able to garden, travel or spend more quality time with grandkids. For most people, being able to do the things they love is what motivates. That could be building strength and endurance so a parent can walk their daughter down the aisle at her wedding. That could be wanting to climb the stairs in the football stadium so grandparents can enjoy their grandson’s senior night for high school football. This is what drives me to work my best and wh

at I hope drives my clients to push to their potential.”

Connors’ fitness focus revolves around three areas:

  • Functional fitness, which helps people use exercise to make daily activities easier.
  • Cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, which helps people build new lifestyle habits to help strengthen heart health and prevent deterioration.
  • Special populations, such as rehabilitation for people with cancer, diabetes management and orthostatic hypotension, a condition when blood pressure drops so people feel dizzy when they stand.

Connors said she typically begins with functional fitness because basic movements can serve a range of specific purposes. She said many people experience some dysfunction in the way they move their bodies. This includes standing at a tilt, walking with an uneven gait, or failing to fully squat. Connors’s exercises focusing on functional movements aim to help individuals address those dysfunctions so they can perform daily activities with more ease.

Connors’ interest in cardiopulmonary rehabilitations goes back to her previous work as a central monitor technician at Blodgett Hospital in Grand Rapids. Before Blodgett, Connors was a Ball State University graduate assistant, working in cardiopulmonary rehabilitation and adult physical fitness.

“One of my goals at Tamarac is to help raise awareness about how fitness is really about caring for the whole person and helping each individual achieve their goals their way,” Connors said. “When I help a person with their cardiac and pulmonary rehab, I’m also giving someone who may have received a heart illness diagnosis learn and use tools that can minimize damage and increase recovery. When I work with someone who has a chronic condition, we work together to look beyond medications, which can be important, and explore ways that exercise and diet can help their journey toward wellness.”

Connors chose a career in fitness and wellness because she wanted to work in health care. In addition to her interest in clinical procedures and medical technology, Connors is in awe of what the human body can do. As a fitness specialist, Connors said she can be a part of an individual’s daily journey of healing.

“I want to be able to reach those who may have felt defeated in the past and are ready to really take charge and use fitness and wellness as a tool to learn more about themselves and how to take care of their bodies,” Connors said. “I love getting to see people every day and they are always the bright spot in my day, no matter what is going on in my life. I love being able to work with so many different people and to be challenged every day to be better, to design better programming, to find better ways to help someone improve their life.”

A Comstock Park resident who lives with her new husband and their cat, Connors said she cherishes the community that has built itself around Tamarac, from her fellow colleagues to the members and families who visit in pursuit of their health and wellness goals. Everyone, she said, is driven to encourage and support each other.

“Every small win is a huge victory here, and it is easy to cheer each other on,” Connors said. “I see members teaching other members how to use equipment correctly, I hear conversations about truly checking on people who maybe had a hard time lately. I’ve had people tell me they really do think of me when they drive home and hope for my safety. Every person belongs here and everyone who exercises here, works here or has therapy here makes it known that we are a community. It’s a beautiful gem of a facility to be found in small town Michigan.”

People are at the heart of everything we do, and the inspiration for our long and continuing legacy of strong community partnerships, philanthropy and transparency. Our award-winning team improves health, inspires hope and saves lives across 13 counties in West Michigan. We bring together 11 hospitals—including Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, with expert care from 350+ pediatric specialists in 70+ specialties and programs—three rehabilitation and nursing centers, 120 outpatient sites and telehealth services. We are proud to work with 4,000 physicians and advanced practice providers, including Spectrum Health Medical Group, one of the largest and most comprehensive multispecialty physician groups in West Michigan.

Azlan Ibrahim
Communications Manager
Office: 231.924.1264
Mobile: 616.227-1940