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We asked Founder & CEO of Barbells for Boobs, Zionna Hanson (Z) about the Barbells for Boobs story, how she stays positive while dealing with such a heavy issue day in and day out and how her organization helps those dealing with breast cancer.
Unfortunately, breast cancer is an issue that many of us have faced in some shape or form. Zionna, for those outside of the U.S., can you tell us, why did you found Barbells for Boobs?
Z: Barbells for Boobs turned a workout into a community event – an actionable event that CrossFit affiliates not only use to bring their athletes closer together, but also provides funds that mean something. All stories and connections are real. Such is the impact that Barbells for Boobs has in its mission to change the way breast cancer is addressed in the fitness and medical communities. It started with a workout to raise funds for a friend and it continues because we have nearly 500 women in 8 countries currently in our Resources After Diagnosis (RAD) program and it is our vision to strengthen those women and the resources we provide.
How do you stay positive while dealing with such a heavy issue day in and day out?
Z: I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit that some days are harder than others. Our work in breast cancer involves a personal interaction with each of the women in our RAD program, so naturally emotions are impacted. We hear the individual stories, the ups and downs, the wins and struggles, and what we do focus on is providing the tools to assist them with, adjusting to these things and living their best life. So, yes it can be hard to always be positive, because no one wants to hear they have breast cancer. But breast cancer doesn’t discriminate and while getting the diagnosis is not a positive thing, we focus on what we can control and also how we adapt to what we cannot. The same is true for the Barbells for Boobs team. We work together to deal with heavy conversations and situations surrounding the individuals within our community.
Can you please tell us a bit more about the cooperation with PUMA?
Z: PUMA has been an outstanding partner with Barbells for Boobs. Its mission to empower women and women’s health aligns with our core values. PUMA genuinely seeks to understand, learn and communicate to its own internal community as well as the community at-large about those core values. It is evident that it spans across all types of sports and other activities, including arts and humanity’s projects. We began working with PUMA last year to create a collection of apparel, shoes and accessories that amplify the impact on breast cancer and launched that 12-piece collection the first week of October. The debut included a PUMA NYC- hosted, 4-day event with our Resources After Diagnosis (RAD) community, which included our Barbells for Boobs team and 40 athletes that participate in our RAD program. The flagship store honored us with a VIP party, a workout, a yoga event and extended itself as a gracious host to the local gyms and also welcomed some of our other partners to help launch the items.
We are looking ahead to the 2022 collection and recently finished the designs and messaging for that. Our RAD community and beyond has reciprocated PUMA’s loyalty and undeniable support and our network has grown in strength, together.
How does BFB help those in the breast cancer community?
Z: We provide Resources After Diagnosis (RAD) for women who have been impacted by breast cancer. Barbells for Boobs is able to provide the RAD program through donations and grants and we distribute 100% of donations to supporting the RAD program and the specific resources it utilizes to operate. The RAD Program is designed to give women impacted by breast cancer a comprehensive support system and includes physical activity, support and education focused on mind, body and soul well-being.
Thank you very much, Z!
RAD Physical Activities
Science has shown that physical activity is a gateway to health. It is the most proactive thing a woman can do for herself, whether they have breast cancer or not. For this reason, the RAD program includes a strong focus on providing physical activity outlets for participants. The physical activity requirement is movement for 30 minutes. To achieve this, the coaching team offers 1-on-1 workout sessions with a RAD coach, as well as a virtual gym workout for all RAD program participants around the world to participate in together. BFB are committed to having options for every woman in every stage of their breast cancer diagnosis and in their life after treatment.
RAD Support Activities
Connecting like-minded women impacted by breast cancer by providing them with critical community-driven support to build confidence and connection. These include social engagements, interactive seminars about health practices, nutrition, sleep, handling stress and much more to provide an equal balance to the physical activities.
RAD Education Activities
Providing educational resources on exercise oncology and mental health as they pertain to breast cancer. These activities involve medical advisory board members presenting on various topics, as well as adding to an overall library of visual and written resources.
PUMA released a limited-edition apparel collection. It features purposeful pops of pink and Barbells for Boobs branding and signifies the resolve that’s found in those affected by breast cancer.
Throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month, PUMA is encouraging our followers to share powerful stories of how breast cancer has impacted their lives and/or the lives of women around them. Post your stories with an image or video using Instagram or TikTok with the hashtag #SheMovesWithPurpose. For each post that includes #SheMovesWithPurpose, we will donate $1 (up to a total of $25,000) to Barbells for Boobs, to help further their efforts to improve the quality of life and outcomes in individuals impacted by breast cancer.
You can also make your donation here.