When Heather Turner ruptured a tendon in her right knee four years ago, it quickly limited her ability to exercise.

“I put on over 150 pounds and I was overweight to begin with, so that didn’t help,” Turner, 42, of Fremont, Michigan, said. “I was very concerned about it.”

When her weight reached 360 pounds, Turner decided she had to do something.

She met with Joseph Rexroat, MD, of Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial Multispecialty Clinic, who recommended the Momentum program at Tamarac, the Spectrum Health wellness center in Fremont.

Participants in the 12-week, medically based fitness program start with an overall health assessment, followed by two supervised fitness sessions per week with a fitness specialist.

The specialists customize a fitness plan for each person based on needs, goals and medical conditions.

In fall 2021, Turner embraced the opportunity.

Each week, in addition to the two scheduled sessions, she used the fitness center an extra two or three days.

“I could come as many times as I wanted,” she said.

She walked laps on the track, walked on a treadmill and used other exercise equipment. She even went to the pool for exercises.

By the end of the program, she had lost 52 pounds.

“I got stronger,” she said. “My leg feels so much better and I have so much more confidence and self-esteem. And I have more energy. It’s strange, because you wouldn’t think that after working out for three hours, but I have more energy now. I feel so much better as a whole person.”

Turner also worked with a dietitian. She’s eating fewer sweets and counting carbs to aid in her weight loss journey.

“My goal is to get my A1C down through exercise and dieting and then maintain it,” she said. “My long-term goal is to get back to where I was in high school—I was 150-some pounds.”

Turner completed the Jump Start part of the Momentum program and has entered in the Next Steps phase, where she continues regular visits to the fitness center and quarterly assessments with a fitness specialist for continued support.

She said it will take time and discipline to achieve her goals.

“If I can do it, I believe anybody can do it,” Turner said. “I was almost 400 pounds. I know I still have a way to go, but they gave me a good start.

“I believe with this program I can do it,” she said. “I really do. I just need to keep going. It’s going to take me time, but it took me time to put the weight on.”

Back in shape

For Kathleen Snapper, 64, weight loss wasn’t her goal in joining Momentum. She simply wanted to get in better shape.

She expressed a desire to do just that at her annual physical with Eric Weaver, MD, in August 2021.

Snapper, who had two total hip replacement surgeries, said she wanted to strengthen her body in the event she encountered any future health issues.

“I didn’t have great balance,” she said. “I was not physically active. I didn’t have endurance.”

At the onset of the program, she could only balance on one leg for about five seconds.

“I look like I’m in decent shape,” she said. “But I was born with good muscle tone, so I don’t get credit for that.”

She and her husband, Mike, live in Fremont and have seven children and 10 grandchildren.

“Keeping up with them is a whole lot of what this is about,” she said. “They keep us busy.”

Snapper worked with fitness specialist Mychael King at Tamarac.

“He was really good at watching what I was doing,” Snapper said. “It felt like it was physical therapy as well as training.”

After the 12-week program, Snapper continued to work with King as her personal trainer. He assembled a plan to help her work out while she spent time in Florida.

“My energy and endurance—it got so much better,” she said. “Momentum is really a great word for it. I missed it when I didn’t do it. It makes you want to stay healthier, because it felt good.

“I have been so tickled with it, I’m a real advocate for the program,” she said.

‘It’s so worth it’

Spectrum Health physical therapist Allison Dehaan suggested the Momentum program to Rosanne DeKryger to strengthen the muscles in her leg and around her knee after an injury.

The 50-year-old Fremont resident, who had gastric sleeve bariatric surgery in early 2021, enjoyed becoming active again.

“I got a little too active and tore my meniscus tendon and tore my hamstring in two places,” she said. “That puts the brakes on physical activity.”

She started the Momentum program in December.

She sums up her experience in a word: “Fantastic.”

DeKryger also worked with King, who would meet her at 6 a.m. to accommodate her work schedule.

“I would not be where I am today without doing the program,” DeKryger said. “I feel so much stronger now.”

She built up strength in her leg using exercise machines and warming up with a stationary bicycle. As she gained strength, she added free weights, did circuit training and walked the indoor track to keep her heart rate up.

She’s made the fitness center part of her lifestyle, going five days a week.

“I have to go,” she said. “I just feel better if I do. I think a lot of people just don’t take the time—and it’s so worth it.”

DeKryger gained 4 pounds of muscle and lost 7 pounds.

“You can do a lot for your health in just 12 weeks,” she said.

The combination of surgery and the exercise routine ultimately helped DeKryger lose 120 pounds.

Like Snapper, she finds motivation from her grandchildren. She also enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors.

“We all need to take time for our own health,” DeKryger said. “No one else is going to do it if we don’t.”

‘It lit a fire’

Fremont-area resident Eric Truax, 46, considered bariatric surgery after he couldn’t find a way to lose weight.

An Army veteran and former all-state linebacker, his weight had climbed to 330 pounds in August 2021 when Michael Deweerd, MD, suggested he give Momentum a try.

“I failed on so many programs and so many diets,” Truax said. “That gets discouraging after a while. I wasn’t at rock bottom, but I could see the bottom. It wasn’t far away.”

Truax has been in great physical condition before, so he knew he wanted to do something.

“What really, really bothered me was the inability to tie my shoes without holding my breath,” Truax said. “Or the winded feeling I would get swimming—just swimming—and I’m an excellent swimmer.”

He decided against the weight loss surgery and joined Momentum in September. He said the decision and program “lit a fire.”

At the program’s six-week check-in—the halfway point—he had already reached his goal of losing 10 percent of his body weight.

“Then I went for 50 pounds,” he said. “I wanted to hit it. And we did.”

The “we” approach helped Truax kickstart his weight loss journey.

“It was a team effort,” he said. “I kept in contact with Dr. Deweerd, and my wife was on board and was fully supportive and tried to help.

“I cut my alcohol intake down dramatically, I changed my diet significantly and started moving more with the actual exercise program,” he said.

He’s delighted with the results.

“I’m in phenomenally better shape,” he said. “The team at Tamarac had a very easy-to-follow program with clear benchmark goals and the general atmosphere was very encouraging.”

Truax said he has increased flexibility and has even “shaved a few strokes off my golf score.”

His ultimate goal? Lose another 50 pounds by June.

“I just need to keep exercising, keep eating right and keep the momentum going,” he said.