In a roundabout way, this is sort of a follow-up post to the one I wrote about yoga last month.
In that post, I focused on what I don't do for exercise: yoga.
So I thought I would write a piece on what I do, do for exercise.
While yoga isn't my thing, kickboxing is.
It took some trial and error to get there, though. I attempted to do personal training through an adult education program in my area, but was told that the personal trainer did not feel comfortable training me because he did not have experience with my conditions. I then did personal training through my school gym, but the person who trained me didn't really work with me on things I could do that wouldn't be really rough on my joints.
Finally, I started looking for other options.
As I said about yoga, I need something that is very active and engaging, something that stays interesting and allows me to mix it up.
So I found a martial arts place in the area and talked to one of the owners. They were very willing to work with me, even though lupus and RA was new to them. I decided that I wouldn't be comfortable in a class environment, where people older than me could potentially do more and were better than me.
So I do a one-hour, one-on-one training session once a week. I think this really is key. My trainer is able to put his attention fully on me, helps me modify movements that I can't physically do, and pushes me to my limit of the things that I physically can do.
Of course, during my recent flare, I had to take a few weeks off because I could barely get out of bed. The week I pushed myself to go, I almost had to stop just a half hour in.
Clearly, there are some limitations with my RA. I can't always do every move; I don't always get full extension on my arms and legs. But it really doesn't matter how high I kick my leg. That's the beauty of it. It's about staying active and doing what I can, rather than competing with other people and trying to be the best. I really enjoy the sparring that we occasionally do, and I enjoy the variety of activities we do in an hour.
My training has changed a bit recently, and has become more about keeping my joints mobile and my body stretched than it has been about a hardcore workout. This is a change I've had to make, but my trainer has been totally cool with it. And I always feel like I've had a good workout, and am usually pretty sore the next day. But I would take that kind of pain over RA pain any day.
I never kickboxed pre-lupus or RA. I actually didn't really have an exercise regimen of any kind. Now I do kickboxing once a week, and a walk aerobics DVD, in which I do the two-mile and three-mile walks each once a week. I also do a lot of walking because I don't have a car.
I think that possibly it is what I'm doing, but it's also how I'm doing it. And thankfully, the one-on-one training sessions are very reasonable price-wise. For me, I knew a class would be too much for me. I needed something that was my speed. And when I can't do things, my trainer doesn't make me feel bad about it, unless I'm trying to cheat or wuss out.
I think the key is doing what you like and what feels good to you. Despite a killer workout, once my blood sugar bounces back after kickboxing, I really do feel a rush of endorphins.
So do something. No matter what it is.
Staying active is key to not letting RA get the best of you, even though it is oftentimes difficult to find something that works and that you can do. I'm not suggesting that's an easy thing. As I said earlier in this post, it took me a lot of trial and error to find what was right for me on a variety of levels.
When I first looked into kickboxing, I assumed that kickboxing and RA would by diametrically opposed. How can someone who cannot fully extend their arms on a daily basis punch and kick a punching bag?
Well, I'm living proof that you can.