This guest blog post was written by Lauren Chow.
“Reject the sense of injury, and injury itself disappears” (Marcus Aurelius). If you let an injury define you, your sense of self can be lost. This is my story on how barre has allowed me to become stronger and above my injury so that I don’t have to let it define me.
I think the worst part about my injury is that I had no control over the situation and it was now something that was a part of me. Six years ago back home in Saskatoon on April 12, 2012 (at I kid you not, the stroke of midnight making it Friday the 13th), I was the passenger in a car accident where the vehicle was rear ended, and totalled. I can remember the spinning and thinking we were going to roll. The velocity of the collision went through my body to the point where my tied up sneakers were no longer on my feet. I remember the injuries from hitting my head and knee, and not being able to sit up on my own for days after. I sought out continual care for months following the accident of weekly physiotherapy and massage, but the injury still had such control over my life. While my continual care helped relieve any immediate strain, I still didn’t feel like I was getting any better.
Fast forward a few months, I had just moved to Edmonton and had to figure out how to continue my care in a new city. A co-worker had recommended a massage therapist at a facility near the UofA that specializes in chiropractic care and massage therapy. After a few treatments with her, I trusted her recommendation to begin chiropractic care. I saw immediate benefits from this type of therapy. Combined with massage and the exercises they had given me, I was feeling like I was in control of my injury and my body once again! Although, some activities were still limited for me. I’ve always loved the game of golf, but the twisting nature of that sport would leave me injured, and I’d have to seek out immediate care after a game, and limited how much I played.
I’ve always been interested in physical activity and knew the benefits to staying active, especially for body maintenance and to help reduce the effects of any injury. In terms of workout classes and programs, the closest thing I found enjoyable was Zumba, but sometimes the movements would cause my muscles to pinch and I’d be away from any activity for weeks. I would stay away from things like pilates and yoga because the movements were sometimes too hard on me, and I didn’t feel strong enough to participate in those classes. I was taking a few kinesiology courses at the time and was able to build my own workout program for the gym. Well… I can certainly tell you that I did not have the motivation or the confidence to be there. I saw the benefits of going continually, but I would always get bored of the exercises and would spend more time curating workout playlists than actually working out.
Lauren and her sister Kendra
I was in this constant cycle of trying to work out here and there, seeking care when things flared up, and believed this was how I was to take care of myself now. I had been introduced to barre by my sister, Kendra who by this time had begun working the front desk at the studio. My first barre class had my legs feeling like jelly. It made me realize I did not have much body awareness, and I knew I had to take modifications and breaks. While I very much enjoyed the atmosphere of the studio, I mistakenly felt I wasn’t strong enough to participate in this type of exercise. Still in my cycle of ups and downs, Holland Plaza had just opened their doors, and Kendra had told me the studio was looking to hire someone for the front desk. I knew of the amazing community that existed at our studio and knew I shouldn’t pass up an opportunity to be a part of it. Soon after being inspired by listening to classes happening while working the front, taking my first few classes with Erin and Lindsey, I was hooked. I saw the strength my body could have, I saw the empowerment of being in a group fitness setting, and I saw my own improvement. I was more in tune with what my body was capable of instead of what my limitations might be. After a few months of barre, I didn’t have to limit my movements as much, I didn’t have to book a chiro appointment the day after a round of golf. I was strong, I was empowered, and I no longer had to think about my injury before saying yes to a certain activity. My injuries mainly exist in my lower and upper back muscles, so when I finally signed up for a backside class, rather than our regular 60 minute class, I saw huge improvements in my practice and in my body. This class allowed me to focus on the supporting muscles I needed to work to help maintain my strength. It was in this class that I was able to strengthen my mind-body connection and become so aware of what my body was doing external to my core. This is why our backside class is my favourite class to teach. It is where I became in tune with barre, found my strength, and am able to reject the sense of my injuries. Yes, there are still days when my back flares up, but I no longer let that defeat me. I engage in the proper self care of either treatment, rest, maybe a stretch and core class, or taking the modifications in class. I don’t know where I’d be without our studio, but because of barre, I am not limited or defined by any injury that may befall me.