Hiding Sick When It Shows

My job is labor intensive, it requires movement of my body often. People who know me and have seen my symptoms often wonder how I’m still teaching fitness classes and training people. I’ve wondered that often myself. In fact it was because of my ability to still function mostly normal especially when I needed too that I began to question and agree with the doctor that maybe it was all in my head, but then I realized several things.  I have been in the fitness industry for over ten years, preaching and exercising to help others stay healthy. This, exercise is my normal and so I can exercise longer and stronger than most members in my class and since exercise is my normal it takes a whole lot more for spasms to show up in public.

The other thing I realized is that as an instructor I have learned over the years to, in essence, to keep my personal life personal. If during class I feel pain, I still put on that smile. If pain is obviously written all over my face I blame it on allergies or a bad hip and I remind them I am going to take it a little easier like I tell them too. Maybe instead of demonstration a lot of standing exercises that day I demonstrate modifications, like sitting in a chair to do that same exercise. I several classes for active older adults. Chairs are part of the routine.

I think in a way having this thing, this dystonia thing, or whatever it is I have,  has actually made me a better fitness instructor, because I have this thing,  I understand others a lot better than I use too, when they come up to me before class and tell me they have some ailment or something similar to what I have (though they don’t know what I have) and I learn new ways to modify exercises for their needs.

It has been rare that I have had to cancel a class or find a sub for a class because of symptoms. Most bad episodes happen at the end of the day when I am exhausted from work, or start at work (numbness, maybe slight limping, or barely visible twisting, pain) and gets worse after, making strenuous afternoon activities difficult. Or they happen during my own workouts when I am working out at my full potential.

As a trainer I mostly demonstrate exercises and then the client does the work. The longer I have had the client or the more body aware my client is the less I have to demonstrate. Verbal cues work just as well. The same goes for my fitness classes. But during my workout I am putting my body through…a real workout and that’s when the twitching, and the wiggling and the muscle locking or spasming all love to take turns and kick in messing with my body. It’s really hard to deal with. Sometime it ends in tears from frustration or pain or both. I start to remember what my body use to be able to do and I get depressed.

The days I hate the worst are my off days when I am taking it easy on my body and the worst of the symptoms appear. I yell at my body, “hey, I gave you a break today! Can’t you give me one!”

My yoga instructor said to learn to accept my body for what it can do today, not for what it could do yesterday. Same thing I’ve preached to my clients before. It’s hard to do that now that I understand what a lot of my clients are really going through, but she’s right.

I guess that’s what this is all about. Acceptance.




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