Nashville is known around the world as “Music City,” a nickname that has endured across centuries. While country music helped put Nashville on the map, the city has become an international destination for artists and fans of many different genres. Tennessee native Laura Crawford is part of Nashville’s storied musical heritage.
Originally from Chattanooga, Laura attended UT Knoxville before moving to Nashville to begin a career in the recording industry. Just a few years after starting her career and her new life in Nashville, she faced a devastating cancer diagnosis followed by a complicated abdominal surgery and intensive chemotherapy.
Though the treatments proved successful, they took their toll on a young woman who was used to daily workouts — including three hot yoga classes a week. After a year and a half of recovery time, she was introduced to Meg and Aaron Grunke, who created Survivor Fitness to help cancer survivors regain their health and wellness through one-on-one personal training and nutritional support.
“It was perfect timing because I was intimidated to go back to the gym,” said Laura. “I had lost a lot of weight, strength, and muscle.” Her other side effects included painful neuropathy and balance issues that made a complete recovery much more than just a matter of will.
“I was going through a lot mentally as well,” she continued. “So when I learned that there was a program that could help me ease back into exercise with individualized support, I jumped at the chance.” Laura quickly began a 12-week fitness program with a certified strength and conditioning specialist in Franklin, TN. By teaming up with a knowledgeable and experienced trainer close to home, she felt assured that her new fitness journey would be as safe as it was convenient.
“At the very beginning, they did mobility tests to see where I was physically,” Laura explained. “We started at three days a week doing cardio mixed with strength training and then tapered to two days a week.”At the end of the program, her trainer reevaluated her physical condition to demonstrate how much progress she had made since joining Survivor Fitness.
“I saw definite improvements, especially when it came to my two biggest goals — building back muscle and improving my balance,” said Laura.
Most importantly, she left Survivor Fitness feeling confident enough to attend other fitness classes on her own. Instead of dwelling on her illness and the odds of recurrence, Laura learned to channel her energy into her recovery outside the hospital walls.
“I had spent enough time in the hospital, so it was really important to me that Survivor Fitness wasn’t in a hospital setting,” said Laura.
Today, Laura prefers the intense pace of high-intensity training over hot yoga. And as a Survivor Fitness board member, she’s using her own cancer journey to help others facing an uphill battle — both mentally and physically.
Here in Music City, Laura chairs the events committee and organizes the Survivor Fitness Soiree, an annual fundraiser supporting the foundation’s scholarship-based work across Tennessee.
“It’s true what they say about taking things day by day, especially for survivors after treatment,” she said. “It takes time, but Survivor Fitness can give you the strength and confidence to bounce back.”
It’s a tune she’s happy to share with anyone, and everyone, who needs to hear it.
Laura Crawford is a senior manager of membership and industry relations at The Recording Academy in Nashville, Tennessee. Click here for a complete list of Survivor Fitness board members and other members of the leadership team.