Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"You Must've Been Fit Your Whole Life" & Other Myths

There is a strange myth that persists, that people in the fitness industry must be fitness fanatics, fit since childhood and built like a Greek god/dess. I know for a fact that is not true, especially in my case. I was the girl in high school who would find ANY possible excuse to get out of PE classes. It wasn't so much that I hated changing in and out of my gym clothes in a locker room, but that I just wasn't very good at PE. All that running around, co-ordination required and I still came in last at everything.

It wasn't until I was in my early 20s that I discovered the gym and could exercise at my own pace and there was no competition. As my fitness level improved, I branched out to experiment with other fitness activities that I enjoyed. I still would never have described myself as "fit" but I was healthy.

Then, in my late 20s, a few months after I got married, I just became unwell. Some doctors attributed it to moving to a new country, adjusting to married life etc. But I knew something was wrong, and it wasn't all in my head. A MRI confirmed that there was a neurological problem and thus, began years of fighting with symptoms and trying to find some way of being in charge of my body, instead of my body controlling my life.

At one of my lowest points, my husband gently suggested that I read as much as I could about demyelinating neurological conditions and what I could do about it. Three words kept recurring "EXERCISE", "NEUROGENESIS" and "NEUROPLASTICITY". I read some very impressive scholarly article, of which I understood only every few words. However, what became clear was that I needed to exercise, but how in the world was I going to exercise when I could barely stand up on my own?? There was no way I could spend an hour on an elliptical trainer followed by 30 mins of weight training. What do I do now?

I called around and did more reading. My epiphany arrived when I realised the easiest way of describing my condition to the average person was by explaining that my body was aging at an accelerated pace. Then the coin just dropped, and I realised I needed to train like an older adult. Again, I had no clue how to begin. More calls and I ended up in Dr Karl Knopf's Adaptive Fitness Technician course at Foothill College, and my new life began.

Now, exercise is slower paced and consistent, rather than high octane. I've learnt to exercise smart, not hard. Most importantly, exercise is now part of my daily life rather than something extra that I just tack on. I need exercise not to fit into a size 6 dress or the latest bikini; I need exercise to live my life, and to be the best for my family.

I am here to try and help you do the same.

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