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A Legacy of Fitness and Inspiration - Brendan and Donna


Isn’t it amazing when someone’s life journey leads to changes and new ideas that have a positive impact on the health, wellness and fitness of many people? This is the legacy of Donna Skeen. Without her, the gym, and now the movement, to offer a workout option designed for people 55 and over, would not exist.

In 2017, Donna was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer that had spread to her bones. She was given no hope for survival beyond a few months. However, Donna was not the type to just accept that diagnosis. She was in the healthcare field, and was determined that cancer would be no match for her.

Her treatment protocol called for physical therapy, which helped immensely by improving her mobility, lowering her blood pressure, AND she lost weight and had more energy.

After two years of PT, her treatments were no longer covered by insurance, but her doctor pleaded with her to continue exercising and join a gym citing the improvements in her overall health. Donna knew the benefits of exercise were paramount to her health, both physically and mentally, and a powerful weapon to fight the disease, but she wasn’t comfortable with the existing fitness center options working out next to “younger and healthier people”. She remembered hearing the same sentiments from her own patients.

That was the moment that her son, Brendan, first shared with her his idea for what would become 55 Fitness, a gym designed specifically for adults 55 and over. Donna and Brendan saw their dream become reality in 2020 when 55 Fitness opened here in Alpharetta.

We all recognize the importance of physical exercise for a long, healthy life. Working out with friends, or with those with whom you are comfortable, can have a positive and lasting impact on exercise habits. Regimens designed for mature adults will ensure that people in older age groups have a comfortable and friendly environment to improve their overall health and wellness. The advice: find a gym with customized personal training, group training and virtual classes which can all help busy mature adults exercise in the way that is right for their stage in life.

Donna Skeen was declared cancer free just weeks before she passed away unexpectedly November 2021 from an unrelated cause. The dream she shared with her son, Brendan, and her legacy of fitness, lives on in 55 Fitness.

“I hope that her story will be an inspiration for all of you to strive to be the best you in 2022. Her bravery and determination will inspire me for the rest of my life.” -Brendan Skeen, CEO of 55 Fitness

This article first appeared in North Atlanta FitLife Magazine –

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