How on earth do you Zumba?

Ahh…the inevitable question has been asked once again today.

Actually, (especially since my video), I’ve been asked this question more times than I can count.

I am going to do my very best to answer it.  Keep in mind this is just my opinion and experience, PLEASE check with your doctor before trying any exercise program.

So…the question of the day is…”How on earth do you Zumba with Fibromyalgia?”

Truth be told, I was doing Zumba for about four or five months before being diagnosed, so my body was already somewhat conditioned for cardio.  But please also keep in mind, I was still considered obese and was, by no means, in “good” shape.  I was just starting my weight loss and was devastated and I might not reach my goals.  I remember very clearly that the gym was having a weight loss challenge.  My friend and I had entered.  The final weigh in was in March and I was diagnosed in February. 

I gave up on a lot of my activity for while and didn’t win the weight loss challenge (which was ok because I won the next year).  I was scared.  I wasn’t sure what I was “allowed” to do.  I didn’t know what would happen if I tried.  Would I get sick? Would I pass out?  Would my legs fall off?  Who knew?  I knew so little and so did everyone else around me.

As I’m sure most of you went through, it took months before I could get into a Rheumatologist.  So with major Zumba withdrawals (and as I have mentioned before), my first question to him was if I could still Zumba.  He said I could, so back to Zumba I went.

But I went with baby steps…

Since I had spent the last few months with fevers, pain, laid out in bed with back pain and a few trips to the hospital, my body had to readjust. 

For those of you who have never tried Zumba, it can be as hard or as easy as you want it to be.  When I started back in, I adjusted it for how I was feeling that day.  If I was feeling strong, I did the high intensity moves, or the jumps, or all the turns.  If I was having a bad day, I’d modify…no jumps, no turns, no squats if my knees were saying “no”, and so on and so forth.  Also, I was afraid to sit out a song or two if I needed to. 

Don’t let the “cardio” part of Zumba frighten you away. There is nothing about a salsa that feels like a run, nothing about a cumbia that makes you feel like you’re on an elliptical…It’s just dancing.  Moving…even if the steps aren’t right, it doesn’t matter as long as your body is moving. 

There are also multiple options for Zumba classes.  You don’t have to take a “basic” Zumba class or a “Toning” class.  There is also the option for Zumba Gold.  It gets a reputation for being for seniors, but it’s also a great option for chronic pain or for people who are just starting to work out.  It’s a lower intensity class and a way to step into Zumba and give it a try. 

There are also aqua Zumba classes in the pool.  I’ve yet to try one, but I’m dying to. We don’t have a lot of aqua class in our area but the next chance I get I’m going to try it out. 

I’m not saying Zumba is the answer or say that EVERYONE out there with Fibro should be in a Zumba class.  It just so happened to be what worked for me, and when it’s all said and done, finding what works for you is the most important thing you can do if you’re wanting to get active. 

So I’m sure you now have more questions:

“Don’t you hurt after a class?”  “Aren’t you fatigued after a class?”

My answer to both:  Sometimes.

I’ve learned to adjust, and as my body got more conditioned to handle the exercise, the less these have been an issue. 

The “soreness” was more from working out (and anyone who has not worked out in awhile would have this…chronic pain condition or not) than from fibro.  Sometimes I push myself too hard and it happens. ..but it’s always temporary. 

The fatigue can be a problem.  My solution to this is to try to do my classes in the evening.  If I’m exhausted when I get home, it doesn’t matter.  There are only a few hours until bed time…and sometimes it even helps with the insomnia!  Not always, but any night of restful sleep is a relief.  Oh…and an energy drink here and there has helped a little too.

If I do Zumba during the day (for a Zumbathon or event) I make sure to give myself that evening off, or at least give myself time to take a nap.  I learned this the hard way.  I wanted to be tough and “fight” through the fatigue, but all that led to was a really grumpy afternoon and evening.

I know a lot of people feel the need to workout first thing in the morning, but I recommend trying evening workouts. 

So I have no idea if I answered your question.  I hope I at least shed light on the mystery question.  Chronic pain or not, it takes your body time to adjust and get used to working out.  Soreness may not always mean you did something wrong, but rather that you did something right for those muscles that haven’t moved in so long!

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