REDONDO BEACH, Calif. -- Laurel Spillane takes notes in her newly accredited medical exercise class on how to manage her lower back pain. Her instructor is a medical exercise trainer.

“A couple of months ago, we were vacuuming for an hour and a half, I ended up with a month of great pain and learned ‘No. Your hips are just fine lady. It’s the back,'” Spillane said.

A previous car accident left her with herniated disks. She also has osteoarthritis that has necessitated the replacement of both of her hips. That’s why she has been working on strengthening her lower back. 

“It seems so simple. You’re just sitting in a chair raising your leg, but it’s how you’re doing it. That is surprising me how much I can feel that and how good it feels to stretch afterward,” Spillane said.

Spillane was in the fourth week of a six-week medical exercise program with the Center for Health and Fitness in Redondo Beach. It can look like physical therapy but the classes bring insight to managing medical conditions from diabetes and hypertension to lower back pain.

The program is designed to help people take control of their medical conditions and prevent future hospital visits. Recently, the organization became certified as the first medical fitness facility in California, offering classes that both teach and have a medical exercise specialist show participants how to manage their health. The facility is one of 45 certified facilities nationwide.

“In the South Bay, it’s important just because you figure the demographic that lives here isn’t so much about anything past the loss of function and what medical exercise is, is to work in conjunction with the [orthopedics] and the [physical therapies] of the world to help reestablish those levels of functionality,” Jason Bautista, medical exercise specialist, said.

Spillane said these classes are helping her achieve the independence she wished she didn’t have to work so hard for.

“If I want to keep doing the things I love and want to be minimizing the pain, movement is absolutely the key. Even, if I don’t care to spend my life doing as much as I need to at this point in my life,” Spillane said.

Spillane hopes that through her notes and the slow and simple movements that she’ll have a better grip on managing her pain and preventing any problems in the future.