Joy Wagner, RN, BSN, a pediatric nurse was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2001. She was also a single mom with 5 and 8 year old daughters. MS literally knocked her off her feet. For four months, she couldn’t walk, drive, or read. She had to give up her nursing job.
MS, like almost 100 other autoimmune related diseases, attacks mobility and therefore independence and quality of life. A person with an incurable disease like this often loses their job and becomes home bound, tied to a walker or a wheelchair. Not knowing where to turn, they give in and give up.
Joy, however, did not give in or give up. She turned to her nursing training and began to research how exercise, diet, and attitude might allow her to reclaim mobility and maintain her independence. As she discovered new ways to battle the effects of her disease, she began educating and training others. Joy received the National MS Society’s “Leader of Hope Award” in 2004 in recognition of fitMS, as she called her program, and her dedication to helping MS patients improve their mobility.
Though initially holding classes at a local YMCA, fitMS grew from group exercise and personal training to add education, disease management consulting, nutritional counseling & food sensitivity testing, wellness coaching, gait & balancing training, chiropractic care, therapeutic massage therapy, and specialized equipment designed to enable the disabled. fitMS outgrew the shared space in YMCAs and Physical Therapy Centers.
In 2011 Joy and Dr. LeeAnn Steinfeldt opened fitMS NeuroBalance Center and the programs grew to benefit not only MS but people with Parkinson’s Disease, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjogrens, myocarditis, Crohns, celiac, vasculitis, type 1 diabetes, fibromyalgia, and stroke. fitMS outgrew its name. Services were offered on a sliding scale. Bus services were added to pick up clients unable to drive. fitMS NeuroBalance Center became not just a place to exercise but also a place to come for community. Clients can compare notes on what they are learning and experiencing. They support and encourage each other. In 2016, fitMS NeuroBalance Center served over 5,400 Client contacts. fitMS not only outgrew its name but also outgrew its facility.
In order to make continued growth possible with these groundbreaking services, we built and moved into our new building in September of 2017. The new NeuroBalance Center is a 10,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility. It was designed and built from the ground up to go beyond ADA compliance and hopefully, set new standards for what a truly accessible building can be. Our new building has allowed us to continue to grow in the number of clients served and the number of services offered.