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Help in the fight to restore strength

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Updated: July 3, 2012 8:58AM

Jenny Mandell knows all about strength — how hopeless it feels not to have it, how hopeful it feels when you do.

Now, with her once-debilitating Multiple Sclerosis in remission, the 46-year-old Winnetka mother of three sons is eager to boast about the two cutting-edge pieces of equipment she used to help her regain strength, energy and vitality. One is bioDensity, which helps create new bone mass and muscular density; the other is Power Plate, which uses whole body vibration to enhance muscular strength, circulation, reflexes and balance.

Both the bioDensity and Power Plate equipment are the draws of Break4Health, the unique stand-alone health and exercise facility that Mandell recently opened in the retail corridor of the Leo Burnett building, 35 W. Wacker Drive. The 20-minutes-a-week Break4Health program is designed especially for busy professionals who don’t have time for traditional workouts; for persons with Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease or Cerebral Palsy, and for women trying to avoid or cope with osteoporosis.

“I want to give my experiences a voice so that others can regain their strength and enjoy their lives again through proven solutions,” says Mandell, president/ CEO of Break4Health, who still dissolves in tears recalling the day in 2000 when she was diagnosed with MS after noticing a tingling in her left leg and impaired vision in her left eye. (“It felt like there was a film or a cataract clouding my sight.”)

“When the doctor told me I had MS, I was in shock. I said, ‘Not me! I run four or five times a week, I work out, I eat right and am extremely fit.’ I was all by myself when I got the diagnosis. I got in the car, and I was hysterical — I cried and cried and cried,” Mandell remembers.

As medications failed and her hope, strength and energy diminished, Mandell was told she would spend her life in a wheelchair. Her first positive news came with a prescription for Tysabre to help control her disease. Then, as she re-entered the work world, she was introduced to the bioDensity equipment which happened to be sitting in her office. Soon, to the amazement of her physicians, her strength had increased 17 percent and she was running the 2009 Chicago Marathon.

Now, Mandell’s strength has increased 78 percent, she can hold a 2,000-pound leg press for five seconds, and she’s off of medication.

“I’m a fighter,” says Mandell, whose goal is to open Break4Health in 10 Chicago locations. “And my mission is to help others fight back and to feel good about themselves. If you feel good about yourself, you can achieve anything you want.”

Sandy Thorn Clark is a local freelance writer.

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