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Student lends helping hand to women's shelter


September 14, 2006

Editor's note: Because of the nature of the shelter, Lovelyn Abbey has been asked not to divulge its name or location for the safety of its clients.

Lovelyn Abbey loves to help others learn how to perform and enjoy physical activity because it's her passion.

So the ASU exercise and wellness graduate student is volunteering her time to help women of all ages who are living in a women's shelter in the metropolitan Phoenix area.

Abbey learned of the shelter while she was working a part-time retail job. The store she worked for donates to the shelter during the holidays and other special events, such as Mother's Day. When it was collecting for the shelter this past May, a representative from the shelter came in to pick up the gifts.

“I gave her my card and told her that I would like to help these women, to empower them by making them stronger and showing them a way to improve their quality of life,” Abbey says.

The shelter representative loved the idea. After some planning and preparation, Abbey's first visit was July 30.

Abbey designed a circuit training program for the women's shelter, using a minimal amount of equipment, such as fitness balls, bands and lots of calisthenics. After her first visit, she made plans to incorporate a few dance moves into the routines.

“The ladies were really getting into the music and were dancing even after we were done with the exercises,” she says.

In addition, Abbey has recruited two colleagues to join her with the monthly volunteer endeavor.

“One of the two is a massage therapist and will give the ladies mini-massages after I take them through a workout and get their muscles warmed up,” Abbey says.

Exercise is only one aspect of the training program. Wellness is another major component, she says.

“I explain the benefits of physical activity, like feeling in control of their lives – not to mention it will improve their sleep and mood,” Abbey says.

Her involvement with the shelter is not the first time Abbey has volunteered her knowledge and services. When a KNXV-TV/Channel 15 “Sonoran Living” segment sponsored a weight-loss contest, she volunteered to train two of the contestants. It turned out that one of her clients won the contest.

While juggling her graduate studies and volunteering, Abbey works as a personal trainer at clubs and organizations throughout the Valley. She even trains some of her clients in their own homes.

“I want to educate women about the benefits of physical activity and hope to use my education to improve the quality of life for others, especially females,” Abbey says.