So. Asthma. Got that anvil dropped on my chest about 4 years ago. Out of nowhere. From running 5K races to not being able to power walk a block without having to stop to try to catch my breath, in a mild panic at the sound of-not wheezing, mind you- the gurgling in my lungs. My usual at-school workout 25-30 trips up and down the fire escape (pictured), doing curls/flys on every step with 5 pound weights? Became a one-up, one-down, do some stationary curls for a minute or two (hoping that people would just think I was doing interval training and hoping that sweat was a good camouflage for tears of frustration) before repeating the whole thing a few times. The worst were the nights, when I’d be dreaming that I was drowning, only to wake up and find out that I was. I spent quite a few nights trying to sleep upright to combat that particular terror.
So. Diabetes. Got that jab to the pancreas about 6 months ago (July 30, 2015 to be exact). It was also deduced that I’d been hosting the blood sugar monster for several years without diagnosis or treatment. With medication and a very low carb way of eating, I’m learning to keep the blood sugar in check. Of course, the other necessary ingredient in treatment is exercise. Refer to above paragraph to see how that was going for me.
So I climbed the fire escape. Up and down, catching breath in between each trip, still trying hard to look like an ultra-cool interval athlete. Ha. Freakishly strong arm and leg muscles, but cardiovascular strengthening? Nope.
Suddenly, a salvation of sorts:
Enter a new colleague and friend. I’d heard someone at work call Nancy “Jazzercise Lady,” so I had to ask her about it. I’d gone to a few classes about 25 years ago and liked it, so when Nancy invited me to go with her as her guest, I figured I’d go, stick my Ventolin inhaler in my bra, hang in the back, and slip out the door when the asthma kicked in.
Except it didn’t.
I still don’t know why. But it didn’t and I’m not questioning it. This was NOT the Jazzercise I remember. This is a killer workout. Buckets of sweat, screaming muscles, burn 500-600 calories-the whole deal. And SO much fun.
And I could BREATHE. Well except for the “this workout is incredible and I’m working my tail off!” breathing. When I got on the edge of the asthma kind of wheezing, I’d switch to a high march, and without the stress of keeping up with the sometimes (for me, anyway) complicated footwork, my lungs would cooperate. It was the first time in over 3 years that I’d done a strenuous, non-stop, ass-kicking workout without needing to suck on an inhaler or spend 5 minutes un-gurgling. I was triumphant to say the least.
Triumphant on more than one level. I do NOT consider myself a dancer, or coordinated, or confident with body image/movement (refer to an earlier post: “Shake it up, baby” for insight). Two years playing Bugs Bunny in a theme park costumed character show did not contribute to the acquisition of graceful moves. So yeah, I’m self-conscious in an extreme sort of way (and yes, I DO know that nobody’s really watching, nor do they care about my skills).
Not in a Jazzercise class. There are no mirrors. There is nothing but encouragement exuding from the instructors and classmates. There is NO judgement about missing steps, switching to a march, or turning the wrong way.
As a result, I miss fewer steps, am switching to a march less, and I just do the routine facing front, adding turns when I’m able. Sometimes I’m not ‘able’ for quite some time, but I don’t feel the least bit self-conscious about it, thanks to the fabulous instructors and my new workout friends. Trust me when I tell you that leaving that particular issue in a puddle of sweat was at least as much of a triumph as being able to breathe through a killer workout again!
I had to face a couple of big fears when I went to the first class-the fear of an asthma attack, and the fear of looking/feeling clumsy and foolish. I have become a fan of facing fears over the last couple of decades (refer to an earlier post, “Be the Buffalo” for insight). I am stronger and happier from “powering through.” I don’t know why this particular exercise doesn’t trigger my exercise-induced asthma. Between the allergy shots, the inhalers, the pills and this workout, my lungs are working better. My A1C, which will only mean something to those living with Diabetes, is now 5.4.
This message is not a Jazzercise commercial. I’m getting no compensation or perks from it; the center doesn’t know I’m writing this. I will link you to them because if you’re in Orlando, you may want to come join in: Orlando Jazzercise Mills/50 . I wrote this to encourage anyone who has something to “power through.” To show that facing a fear, feeling the discomfort, stepping a little closer to the ledge to peek over and see the view outside your comfort zone? So worth it. Not easy. So what? Still worth it.
(Bonus: I have 3 coupons for a 30-day Pass to try Jazzercise at the Mills/5o location. If you want to claim one, let me know! They have to be redeemed by the 20th, I think. First 3 to contact me get one)
Peace (and strength), friends.
(and thank you, Nancy P-B)