Community Exercise Program ‘Has Changed My Life Entirely’

A man sitting in front of a laptop smiling
Braintree resident George Kokoros has been taking virtual Community Exercise classes for two years and says it's transformed his life.

It’s a blustery winter day and George Kokoros is getting ready for his workout.

He’s not bundling up to exercise outside or driving to the gym, though. George only has to go as far as the laptop on his kitchen island to kick off his weekly fitness routine. 

“It’s great being able to do this at home, especially on a cold day like today,” George says to Linda, one of his classmates, who has just logged in for the 1 p.m. Virtual Body Moving class offered through South Shore Health’s Community Exercise Program.

George has been doing virtual and hybrid fitness classes for about two years and said they have transformed his life.

A man lifts a weight as he follows along with a virtual exercise class
Body Moving class instructor Jen Logan says she tries to get as much as possible into the hour-long virtual workout, starting with stretching, then balance and flexibility, strength training and cardio and a cool down.

Three years ago, the Braintree resident and long-time school committee member was diagnosed with Vestibular Migraine, a debilitating condition that causes dizziness, vertigo and a loss of balance. George said it also caused anxiety for him because he didn’t know what was wrong for a prolonged period of time.

“It took a year and a half to get a diagnosis,” George said, and during that time he had become completely immobile.  “For a year I lost the confidence I’d be able to do anything again.” 

Luckily, after his diagnosis, a doctor recommended George try physical therapy and he chose South Shore Hospital. 

“They were wonderful,” George said of the therapists he worked with, who suggested Community Exercise Program pool classes would be a good way for him to continue to improve his mobility. 

The water workouts were easier on his joints as he worked to regain his conditioning. During one of his pool classes, George said his instructor told him the classes that Program Manager Jennifer Logan teaches might be a good fit. 

“He said you can work out at your own pace and the exercises could be modified to meet the class participants’ needs.”

A man exercising in his kitchen to a virtual fitness class on a laptop
At the time he was diagnosed with Vestibular Migraine, George Kokoros said he had become so immobile, he couldn't even walk down the street. After two years of South Shore Health's Community Exercise classes, George is back to his active lifestyle, working and traveling.

Fast-forward two years and many, many exercise and pool classes led by Logan, and George says he’s feeling stronger, more flexible and able to live the active life he once had. 

“It has changed my life entirely,” said George, who currently works as the sales director for WMEX radio station, plays in an adult (over 60) basketball league and recently picked up pickleball. 

George has high praise for Logan, the way she instructs her classes and how well she knows her class members. 

“She’s fantastic,” he said. “She knows what we’re all capable of and she pushes us and pulls back when needed. She strikes the right balance for each of us, to counteract the things we’ve been dealing with.”

An female instructor leads a virtual exercise class seen on a laptop
Community Exercise Program instructor Jennifer Logan leads the Body Moving virtual fitness class. Class member George Kokoros said Logan knows participants' capabilities and knows when to push and to pull back during the workout.

George marvels at his own improvement since starting the Community Exercise Program. 

“When I first started the pool classes, I couldn’t walk from the front desk to the pool,” he said.  “I couldn’t even walk down my street.” 

Now George is traveling with his family – including a recent cruise to the Mediterranean and a trip to Ireland at Christmas.  “Before taking these classes I would have needed assistance just to get to the (airport) gate, never mind being able to sightsee and tour the country.”

 George currently attends the “hybrid” Fit for You class on Mondays (sometimes attending in person, sometimes virtually) and the Virtual Body Moving class on Wednesday afternoons and likes the flexibility of being able to fit his workout in around work.

“I told her if she had five more classes I could fit into my schedule, I’d take them,” he said.

Learn more about South Shore Health’s Community Exercise Program.