As a breast cancer survivor and a person with cerebral palsy, staying healthy is very important to me. Exercise helps keep muscles conditioned and it is good for overall health. I am a member at my local YMCA, and I enjoy being active. Before my son came along, I went to a Pilates class weekly and did the arm bike. However, I dropped Pilates when I became pregnant and later developed severe tendinitis in my right arm, preventing me from doing the arm bike as well.
Lately, I haven’t liked how I looked in the mirror and I feel weaker. Being a breast cancer survivor, I know exercise is so important to my health and I should try to get 150 minutes each week. I decided to go back into Pilates class, and I am so happy I decided to return.
Finding the right exercise routine when you are in a wheelchair can be a challenge. You are limited by the wheelchair and what your body will do. Even though my body is in constant motion, I still need to do exercises and keep my muscles working well. People often assume you have physical therapy because you have a disability. However, you often have to pay a lot of money to have physical therapy. So, looking to get exercise in other outlets and facilities can be a whole lot less expensive.
Many feelings and thoughts go through your mind when you enter a physical fitness class that is dominated by people who have no physical disabilities. I worry about how the teacher and others will react, and I wonder if I can keep pace. I already figured I would get stares from curious eyes, so that wouldn’t be a surprise. The rest remained unknown, and I knew I would have to try joining a fitness class in order to truly know what the experience would be like.
I dressed in comfortable clothes and had my water ready. We left early so I could drop off my son at the child watch. He loves playing with the other children. My attendant assisted me in setting up my mat and getting out of my wheelchair. Sometimes when I get out of my wheelchair by myself people look quite scared, so I got out before the others came in. My attendant left after I was situated, and the class began to fill.
People did look curious as I sat on my mat in front of my empty wheelchair. Most people can’t imagine that disabled people can come out of their wheelchairs, so seeing this is a shock sometimes. I just smiled as I took off my shoes and socks. The instructor came in, and I felt happy she was the same one I had four years ago. Even then, she was very welcoming and had no problems with me being there. She said hello to me and got the class started.
If you aren’t familiar with Pilates, it’s a mainly exercise done while sitting or lying on the floor, although there are a few standing moves. When people do stand, I just modify the exercise to whatever I can do. It really isn’t a big deal, and before long everyone is on the floor with me anyway.
Having cerebral palsy makes it difficult for my muscles move in a flowing, coordinated fashion. Yes, sometimes my movements make me feel a bit self conscious, but I let it go. Pilates is all about movement, so my extra movements are just bonus exercise! I can mainly do just about everything that my instructor teaches, so I’m good.
After class ended, my attendant came back in to help me with my socks and shoes, and put me back in my wheelchair. My body felt a good ache from a workout, and I felt very accomplished in my health. I plan on doing the class twice a week, and can’t wait to see my results in a month.
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.