When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2015, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to stay active. Exercise has always been an outlet for me, both physically and mentally, and I was fearful that my body would no longer allow me to move the way I wanted to. I still worry to this day as my loss of vision and balance has created obstacles in my everyday life.
For this reason, I make it a priority to participate in activities that make me feel good, help me regain my strength, and improve my balance. My personal trainer, Marcie, is great at pushing me to work out as hard as possible, but also getting me to listen to my body. I used to do group sessions with her but then began training with her privately to take my workout routine to the next level.
I’m Marcie’s first client with MS so she customizes my workouts based on my limitations and what I want to accomplish, such as improving my balance, strength, and cardio. My workouts with her are always challenging yet attainable and become more difficult each session.
Along with my training, I practice Pilates, which has been a huge help in improving my balance and core strength. My workouts with Marcie complement my work in Pilates and vice versa.
There are many days where I’m not in the mood to work out, but I still show up. Even if I only get part of the workout done, I feel better than I did before the session. Sometimes I don’t want to work out at all and those sessions with Marcie end up being my best workouts because I push myself harder than ever.
My time with Marcie is an hour of my day where I can turn off my brain and focus on myself and my fitness goals. She keeps me accountable by checking in with me the night before our sessions to see how I am feeling and has been a huge help in recognizing my strengths despite my MS diagnosis.
A future fitness goal that I have is to start running again. I used to participate in a 10km race each year and with the help of Marcie’s workout sessions, I’m hoping to be able to participate again someday.
If you are living with MS and looking to begin your fitness journey, my advice would be to start slowly and listen to your body first. I find that working out is just as much about the physical outlet as it is the emotional. Find something that makes you happy and focus on life outside of living with the disease.
Marcie’s story – Samara’s Trainer
I met Samara through a mutual friend who brought her to one of my exercise classes. She asked to do one-on-one personal training sessions, and since then, I’ve been lucky enough to be her trainer.
When she first told me about her diagnosis, it lit a fire under me. She’s my first client with MS and I knew I needed to give her the best possible workouts to help her combat her symptoms. I read up on certain exercises and learned that everyone experiences MS differently, so I knew I had to understand what her limitations were. In Samara’s case, her balance, coordination, and the fact that she could only see out of one eye were things to consider. I created her fitness plan with this in mind – for example, we used a Bosu ball to strengthen her core and assist with her balance.
Samara’s own experiences have helped her learn that exercise is a huge component to both her mental and physical health. Being as healthy as possible is her priority, which motivates her to not give up.
Being committed to a workout program is so important, as is being accountable. We made a commitment to each other; she made a commitment to me to show up and give her all in these workouts and I made a commitment to guide her and help her reach her goals. Samara’s focus and motivation at every session inspire me.
Samara’s a fighter and you can tell that she’s proud of herself. I love that about her. She’s realized that although she lives with MS, she can get stronger, more fit, and improve her balance and coordination through hard work and dedication.
There are days when Samara feels lousy and comes in with a “baditude” as she likes to call it. But by the end of the session, she tells me that she’s happy she pushed through the workout because she feels much better.
For others hoping to get active, my advice would be to find what works for you. Finding the right trainer, taking baby steps, and trying different things can all help develop a healthier lifestyle. Moving your body not only helps you physically, but can improve your mood, and get you feeling better about life!