Free ‘Exercise Without Exertion’ Class Offered: Starting This Week!


Dance moves, silly props, and lots of laughter are in store for people in the latest of a series of recovery support classes offered by Northern Lakes Community Mental Health (CMH).

Funded by a federal block grant administered by the Michigan Department of Community Health, Exercise Without Exertion classes are based on the Lebed Method, which combines sound physical therapy practice with the freeing aspects of movement, incorporating music, positive reinforcement from a group, and empowerment from information and education.

“It‘s exercise, but it’s not about exertion, working up a sweat, or competition. The Lebed method is gentle, therapeutic movement designed to help people through physical and mental challenges,” said Sharon Studinger, OTR, a certified Lebed instructor who will be leading the Northern Lakes CMH groups. “It is actually a research-based, medical model now.”

Valarie Bishop, Chief Operations Officer, explained that the class is being offered as a means to promote general health and wellness among the people served by Northern Lakes CMH as well as the general public. “A recent study shows that people with mental illness are dying on average 25 years earlier than people in the general population for a variety of reasons. We are looking for ways to empower people to take charge of their health and, at the same time, help support people in Northern Michigan who may have mild symptoms due to economic stress may not be severe enough to quality for our mental health services.”

Studinger, an occupational therapist with 30 years experience in mental health, said the Lebed method was originally designed for women recovering from breast cancer surgeries and treatments.  It was meant to help with lymphedema, a swelling caused by the removal of lymph nodes, and “frozen shoulder,” or tightness and pain resulting from scar tissue.

More than 25 years ago, Sherry Lebed Davis and her physician-surgeon brothers developed the Lebed Method, which today is also used to treat people with mental illness, chronic illnesses and fibromyalgia.  It has also been beneficial to senior citizens. For more information check out these videos.

“It is a potent package that addresses mind, body and spirit. And it is fun,” said Studinger.

Exercise Without Exertion will be offered one hour per week for six weeks in four cities served by Northern Lakes CMH, beginning July 14. The schedule by location may be accessed at Community Events on the agency’s website:

• Cadillac (527 Cobbs Street) – Tuesdays 10:30-11:30 a.m., starts July 14
• Grayling (204 Meadows Drive) – Wednesdays 10:30-11:30 a.m., starts July 15
• Houghton Lake (2715 S. Townline Road) – Wednesdays  1:30-2:30 p.m., starts July 15
• Traverse City (105 Hall Street) – Fridays  10:30-11:30 a.m., starts July 17

The classes are free and open to the public, and no advance registration is needed.