One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain. – Bob Marley

I’ve had the opportunity recently to connect with other Zumba instructors from all over the world who also suffer from Fibromyalgia or other chronic pain problems.  It’s been great to be able to chat with people who fully understand what I go through every day.  Learning to teach Zumba is a challenge in itself, but learning to teach with fibromyalgia has been a whole other adventure.  I know my Zumba experience is probably different from a person who does not suffer chronic pain, but I can only speak from my perspective and let’s face it, I’m still a newbie when it comes to teaching.  So, I called out to these fellow instructors and got some added insight on how our Zumba experience is different as we fight against chronic pain. 

I asked the question “What is your biggest challenge teaching Zumba with Fibromyalgia or other chronic pain problems.”

Chronic pain stereotypes would lead you to believe that this question is easily answered and that pain MUST be the biggest challenge.  This actually doesn’t seem to be the case at all.  In fact, I was so happy to see that this little group of chronic pain fighters are some of the most positive thinkers I have met in a long time.  For every “challenge” there seemed to be a solution, and not one of these “challenges” has stopped anyone from doing what they love to do. 

The following answers were given…plus my little insight on them…of course:

–          Added pain with changing weather.  (AMEN SISTER!!  Southern Indiana just got its first “real” snow yesterday and it damn near killed me.  It didn’t stop me from going to Zumba…also didn’t stop me from cussing out the sleet and snowflakes on my slick drive home). 

–          Stiffness in the mornings.  (A friend of mine recently planned on going to a Zumba class that started at 5:15 a.m.  HUH???  We did a Thanksgiving Zumba recently that started at 8:30 and I was so stiff my arms felt like stone.  Even when I was helping with an 11:00 a.m. class I had to make sure I got up early enough to get some of my morning stiffness out).

–          Fibro-Fog and forgetting steps.  (The instructor who posted this response said she gets through this with laughter and I agree.  I love what she said so I have to quote her “A class with laughter is a great alternative therapy.”)

–          Fatigue, being un-motivated or wanting to skip class.  (I know these days.  I’m having one right now.  Awful, grumpy, bloodshot eyed, head bobbing, just want to cry…exhaustion.  This is one aspect of fibro I don’t understand.  It’s usually on days like today that I feel SO tired all day and five minutes into Zumba I’m jumping off the walls with energy.  There seemed to be a general consensus on this topic that once the motivation or push came, we all felt much better after class).

–          “Just glad I made it through.” (I love that having a chronic pain problem has not stopped these instructors from teaching tough class.  My mentors for Zumba teach some high intensity songs and I want to be able to do the same…and I’ll be damned if Fibro is going to keep me from that!)

–          Having to pretend I don’t hurt when I do.  (This one is hard and I failed miserably at it last night as I left class early with back pain.  Instructors keep smiling, keep cuing, and keep the class motivated, while also trying to keep that high energy flowing through a whole class.  We, chronic pain sufferers, are doing the same thing but brushing off pain at the same time. This isn’t always the easiest thing to do.  I get an attitude about this sometimes when I’m having a bad fibro day.  For example, during a song full of squats when people are moaning and groaning I want to turn around and yell “Oh yeah!  You think it hurts YOU, you should try it with Fibro!”—Not that I would ever do this, but those thoughts do go through my head.)

–          There are advantages we may have over other instructors.  Because we are aware of our bodies and body pain, we may have an easier time modifying moves for different levels of Zumba experience.  (This is not only comes in handy for students, but also for ourselves.   I love this train of thought.  It’s such a great way to use our so–called  “set-backs” to our advantage.)

–          The most important statement that was worded in many different ways is that not one of these instructors dwells on the pain.  They may have to change their ways of doing some things, but the pain does not seem to be stopping anyone. 

I have to remember this positive thinking.  Last night was a rough fibro and Zumba night for me. I know it’s going to happen every once in awhile, but it’s still hard (physically and mentally) when it does happen.  I also recently ended up in tears while searching YouTube.  Did I cry from watching bad Zumba choreography?   No, just kidding.  I cried as I watched fibromyalgia documentaries and personal videos.  Some people couldn’t walk without crutches, or walk at all.  Some people were so full of pain medication I couldn’t understand their video.  Some couldn’t get in or out of a car, get out of bed on their own, or take a bath without assistance.

It was heartbreaking.  Sometimes I get so busy with my Zumba/Pilates schedule that I forget how severe fibromyalgia can be.  It’s then that I realize how grateful I am FOR that crazy schedule and how it helps me manage my fibro.  I think the instructors I have mentioned are all extremely grateful or our crazy Zumba-filled lives.  You hear so many success stories of people losing weight from Zumba or finally sticking to an exercise program, etc. But there is also a group of chronic pain fighters who are thankful for those successes and so much more.  Thankful for the ability to move, to teach, to motivate, inspire, and enjoy life!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Tyeasha VanBuren
    Dec 02, 2011 @ 20:47:58

    I’m truly inspired to get out of my funk from Fibro frustrated and go dance (i.e. Zumba! lol) this out! Great job as always. Please keep inspiring people with your journey! 🙂


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