Workout for Hope, a fitness fundraising arm for City of Hope National Medical Center and Beckman Research Institute, a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center headquartered in Duarte, uses fitness and fun to raise awareness and funds for HIV/AIDS and cancer research for City of Hope.

Workout for Hope got its start in 1988 in San Francisco and now takes place in many cities across the country. More than $9 million has been raised for the medical center since people began sweating for the cause and in Los Angeles alone, Workout for Hope has raised almost $500,000 for cancer research and treatment in the past 10 years.

For Michael Garvey, a cancer diagnosis in the form of acute myelogenous Leukemia, ultimately brought him to where he is today in his connection to Workout for Hope in Los Angeles.

It was a natural fit according to Garvey. He was already involved in the fitness industry before his cancer diagnosis (he is known as the Dumbell Man and runs his own business of the same name). After going through a bone marrow transplant and spending time in and out of the hospital for more than a year, he got involved in Workout for Hope in 1997. He became dynamic chair of the event the next year. “This is my opportunity to give back to the community and help others,” Garvey says

For the past several years, states Garvey, the event has been held at a local fitness club, SportCenter Fitness in Redondo Beach. L.A. Workout for Hope was moved to the South Bay area several years ago. It used to be held at the City of Hope campus in Duarte. This year's L.A. Workout for Hope event was held in May and was comprised of different fitness activities including a big group exercise class, swimming, master spinning, basketball, a power hour of circuit training, aqua aerobics and Yoga, as well as a kids' program. According to Garvey, this year's event was unique in that the workout event was like a montage from basketball to yoga. “Having different events makes it fun,” he says.

Planning a date for the event can be a challenge states Garvey. “We [Workout for Hope] are always competing with other charity events in such a big city as this, so it is hard to find a weekend in the spring that does not have other charitable functions and runs and walks going on.”

Raising money is important to this cause, but what is more important says Garvey is to get people involved, to come out to the event and participate and become aware of AIDS and cancer, because sooner or later it may touch your life. “This is a social event, go out and sweat and have some fun,” he says.

Garvey's responsibilities as chair of the event include working with City of Hope's public relations arm to promote the workout event with newspaper ads, radio and TV spots. He solicits sponsorships from corporations and local vendors for their support, as well as donations. The sponsorships are placed on banners and t-shirts to help advertise the event. He also helps decide on the various types of workouts for the one-day spring event. “You constantly have to reinvent yourself [the event] to get a big draw from the community,” says Garvey.

Already thinking about next year, Garvey is looking into what may be popular events for 2004.

Even though City of Hope has branch offices around the country, not a lot of fitness club owners are aware that they can get involved with Workout for Hope Garvey says. For more information on how you can get your club and the surrounding community involved contact the Workout for Hope web site at http://workout.coh.org or call the Workout for Hope hotline at: 800-266-7920.