What is Encore?

The Encore Program is an award-winning free 8-week exercise and wellness program delivering low impact, prescriptive land and water-based exercises, and information sessions, in a safe and supportive environment. Group numbers are limited to a maximum of 14 participants.

Encore helps women recovering from breast cancer by restoring strength, mobility and flexibility as well as developing confidence and general wellbeing.  Operating in Australia for over 30 years, national funding of the program now has the potential to benefit around 1,000 women every year. 


The History of Encore

The Encore program was originally developed in the United States by ballet teacher, Helen Glines Kohut. Having experienced breast cancer surgery herself, Helen saw a need to assist other women with similar experiences to re-build their physical and emotional strength. Although support programs existed, none dealt with the physical constraints and pain associated with breast cancer treatment.

In consultation with the National YWCA of USA, a pilot project was set up in 30 YWCAs in the USA to test the program’s effectiveness. A Committee of Medical and Health Consultants reviewed the findings from this project and recommended Encore to be a safe and effective program for women following treatment for breast cancer. The expansion of the program was originally funded through Avon’s Breast Cancer Awareness Crusade.

Encore was brought to Melbourne, Australia in 1983 under license from the YWCA of the USA. Since then,YWCA  Australia has become a registered Encore provider and holds the international license for the program. The program ran successfully in Melbourne and as its reputation spread, so did requests for its expansion. Since Encore’s conception, the importance of exercise following breast cancer in improving health and quality of life has been recognised.


How can Encore help?

Overall physical wellbeing

After breast cancer treatment many women experience numbness, pins and needles, a loss of mobility and strength and discomfort in their upper bodies. Simple things like household chores can become difficult.  Other side effects can be loss of energy, lethargy, brain fog and insomnia, to name a few.

The Encore Program helps to improve strength, mobility and flexibility through the arms, shoulders, chest and back. The cardio exercises performed in the hydrotherapy pool also help to improve general fitness. By focusing on upper and lower body resistance-strengthening exercises, the participants receive a whole body program as well as a general feeling of well-being. Hydrostatic pressure from the water on the body is the optimal treatment for delivering lymphatic massage, helping to manage and reduce the risk of Lymphoedema throughout the whole body, as well as reducing fatigue and lethargy associated with treatments.

Emotional wellbeing

Encore is a holistic program.  This is the ideal first step to restoring fitness, confidence and to create positive self-esteem and body image. At the end of many months of treatment, many people feel that they have lost all sense of routine and self-care.  This program is the ideal way to start taking time out for one's self.

The sessions are also an opportunity for women to share their experiences in a safe and supportive environment and connect with other women in their local area who understand what it is like to experience breast cancer. Many great friendships have been formed through the Encore programs.


What are Encore sessions like?

Small, friendly and fun!

The Encore program is made up of a two-hour session every week for eight weeks.

The sessions are performed in small groups, with a maximum of 14 people, and led by two fully trained facilitators.

The sessions incorporate land and water-based exercises and provide general support, guest speakers and information.

Exercises are added every fortnight with printed simple take home exercises and information.  The program is progressive, with the aim of gradually increasing your fitness and strength over the eight-week program.

No pressure

Encore participants are encouraged to work within their own capacity and ability, and there is no pressure to keep up with others. With multiple exercise level options, participants can work to their own level during the whole program.

Participants do not need to be able to swim, as the exercises are performed only in chest height water, with no need to put the head under the water, and all pools are at a comfortable temperature (27-33 degrees).  


Who can attend?

Encore welcomes any woman who has experienced breast cancer at any stage of her life. 

Whether your breast cancer surgery and/or treatment is recent or was many years ago, you can still benefit from our exercise program. Women of all ages and fitness levels take part. People with knee and hip problems also have the double benefit of exercising in the water.

Participation is by enrolment only and all participants need to sign up to the program of their choice.


How do I know if Encore is right for me?

Encore is a long-running program that complements the medical treatment of breast cancer.  

The exercises were developed in consultation with health professionals and the program is overseen by an advisory board of health professionals.

You will also need consent from your medical practitioner to enrol in Encore to ensure that the program is right for you at your current stage of recovery.


Encore Online 

The Encore online program is a free 8-week exercise program that you can participate in, in the privacy of your own home.

The online program is hosted via Zoom and runs for 1.5 hours per week for 8 weeks. The gentle prescriptive land based exercises are designed to increase your level of flexibility and range of movement, increasing in the level of difficulty and resistance over the 8 week time-frame. The 1.5 hours includes 1 hour 15 minutes of gentle exercise broken down into warm up, prescriptive exercises and stretching (cool down), and 15 minutes of interaction with the facilitators and other participants involving an element of fun and social connection.

We encourage you to commit to full attendance to gain the most benefit. "Take home" exercises are also provided each week to encourage you to try the exercises at home in between sessions. Zoom webinars may also be scheduled from time to time on topics of interest to women who have had breast cancer. Encore is very relaxed with an aim of each woman feeling engaged and having fun.

How can I attend the online sessions?

Participants would need to complete their enrolment in order to participate. 

Participants will also need a laptop, computer, mobile phone or iPad with a front facing webcam or camera to enable each participant to see the facilitator demonstrating the exercises and for the facilitator hosting the session to see each participant performing the exercises safely. Detailed information is provided upon enrolment.

Sign up for an Encore Online session.