Fit Feature: Lansing’s Anna Kaschner

Anna N. Kaschner, 37, of Lansing, is a fitness and yoga instructor at the West Side YMCA in Lansing. Being on dialysis for kidney disease is a normal way of life for her, right now.

“People ask me how I manage to stay active while being on dialysis and I simply do not know how else to be,” she said. “Feeling strong and able has been a key component in my mental health, living with a chronic disease, and it is a choice I make every single day to keep moving towards success.”

How she stays fit

And work out, she does! She’s in the gym six days a week mixing up Olympic-style weightlifting and other barbell-specific lifting like deadlifting, with a combination of high-intensity cardio and standard body-building-style weightlifting.

“I recently have gotten into indoor rowing pretty heavily, as well,” she added. “I am working towards an indoor rowing half-marathon before my surgery in August.” Being on dialysis, she has a restricted diet. “My husband and I prep all our food for the whole week on Sunday afternoons so we can portion and make good meal choices.”

Her fitness advice?

Keep working until you find something that works. “No one thing is going to work the same for all people and it is really helpful to get in with a group of people who can help motivate you and prop you up on the tough days.”

Kaschner is going to receive a kidney from her good friend Tina Stewart, 44, of Mason. “Having a person be willing to have their body cut open for me and a part of it taken out is pretty overwhelming,” she said. “There are no words for me to describe how thankful I am for this gift. It is and will be the single most important gift anyone has ever given or will give me.”

The donation process

She said this is her second time through the donation process. The first donor was deceased. At that time, she didn’t have any time to plan because when she was called she had to get right to the hospital. This time, though, is much different.

“I am trying hard to get as much quality exercise, rest, and food as possible before August,” she said. “Mentally, I am practicing meditation and relaxation techniques to help curb anxiety about the procedure.” She said being on dialysis changes everything about how she works out and lives.

According to Kaschner, she doesn’t make the same amount of red blood cells as a healthy person, so she fatigues faster and loses strength the longer she’s on dialysis. She also has a port that is in her abdomen that allows dialysis treatments, and she has to tape this tubing and port to her body when she is working out. She’s definitely hoping this next transplant will put her back to her best.

“Tina and I know each other pretty well, but I like to think that after this surgery, we’ll be extended family for each other,” she said. “We are having a very unique experience that most friends will not ever have (and hopefully won’t have to), but our experience will create a bond that is unlike any other in our lives, and that bond is very, very special.”


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