when normal isn’t enough

22Jul13

A few weeks ago, I saw a new MS specialist who told me, much to our relief, that I tested neurologically and physically in normal ranges. She said I have very “treatable disease”, so with any luck, I’ll stay “normal”.

For the most part–yes, I am relieved to hear this news. But what if it isn’t enough?

My “day gig” involves teaching college students, and I’ve done side work teaching rehabilitative Pilates (talk about geeking out for a kinesiology nerd!), but there was also a point in my life when I taught a lot of gym group fitness classes. I taught mostly the athletic-based ones (weight lifting, cycling, Pilates, bootcamp, etc) rather than anything dancey or involving too much choreography, but I loved the coaching aspect. And, I’ve always been very comfortable public-speaking. And telling awful jokes.

Injuries over the past few years have reduced me more to a substitute/2 times a month capacity at most gyms, but I still enjoy the interaction with a motivated group wanting to improve their lives. But since my first (and only?) MS relapse last year, I may be “normal” (whatever that means) but I’m notably weaker than I used to be. Which means that I’m also weaker than the strongest people in my classes.

As fitness instructors, part of the way we inspire is to serve as a role model: we live healthy lifestyles (within reason), and we model the exercises that we teach. I’ve found that my “normal” strength, however, doesn’t allow me to model some exercises at 100% capacity anymore. For instance, at least for now, I’m limiting my teaching repertoire to only cycling and Pilates, both of which I can pull off reasonably well without looking like a total newbie. I don’t want to teach a strength training class and have to squat lighter than everyone else in the room, you know?

As for the other formats that I used to teach–will those come back? You bet I’m working on it. I strength train every day, and I notice slow, gradual improvements. Will this result in my being able to teach bootcamp classes again? Never say never, but I don’t know if I’ll regain the agility that I once had.

Either way, maybe I’ll end up “stronger than normal”, whether or not I use this increased strength to teach fitness classes. And if I do keep on teaching for years to come… may I serve as an inspiration.

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One Response to “when normal isn’t enough”


  1. 1 take that, ms! | In Search of My New Normal

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