Workout Group Aims To Heal Mind, Body

Various props help Women With Balls clients train during water sessions. (Photo: Chris McGathey)
Various props help Women With Balls clients train during water sessions. (Photo: Chris McGathey)

When Tracy Virant had a stroke nearly 14 years ago, she had to do something to begin the healing process.

Through a recommendation from a family member, Virant was connected with Patsy Shropshire, a stay-at-home mom and physical therapist. Together, Shropshire and Virant work out twice per week for one hour, and both women agree that Virant has improved since starting the workouts.

“You could say I had a very bad stroke,” Virant said. “My right side is totally disabled and I walk with a cane. People who see me say that I’ve improved 200 percent.”

However, Virant isn’t Shropshire’s only patient. Shropshire formed a club called Women With Balls because she noticed mothers tend to take care of their children but not themselves. To better teach wellness, she said she aims to help the mothers with preventative care, proper exercise, proper posture, and plant-based eating.

“Women With Balls is a program — it’s the practice and education of a healthy lifestyle,” said Shropshire, a Preston Hollow resident. “We’ve been together over 12 years and it’s a group of women, about 18 women, and we work out together at least three times a week.”

The group, which got its name because the women often work out with stability balls, mainly goes by WWB. Its workouts take place anywhere from Shropshire’s house to W.T. White High School’s outdoor track to Brookhaven College’s running path.

The members of the group not only strive to take care of themselves but also the community as a whole. Each year, WWB hosts a fun run and breakfast with all of the proceeds going to a special charity. It has donated to an array of causes, including Austin Street Center, a local chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, and even the medical bills of a young woman who died.

But it’s the friendships surrounding WWB that Shropshire is most proud of.

“[My favorite thing about WWB] is, to be quite honest, all the support that these ladies give each other,” she said. “So we know wellness includes exercise and nutrition, but so a good part of wellness is to have a support system and to have some humor in your life and to have friendships and interactions.

“And to watch these ladies, I see they’re also getting a lot of support from each other and a lot of friendships develop here, so certainly I’m proud of all the exercise they do and all the education that I’m giving them about wellness, but I’m seeing that they’re developing long-time friendships and support for each other.”

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