Monday, November 24, 2014

ZINspiration Mondays with Cayla

There's Cayla, on the right!
My name is Cayla, and I've been doing Zumba for nearly two years now.  A couple of times out at a class, and at least once a week using the Wii.

Why is this remarkable, you might ask? I would say that it's really not, except that I'm doing it while dealing with a disability.

I have HSN (Hereditary Sensory Neuropathy).  If you Google it, there are literally dozens upon dozens of pages that will come up in the results.  Basically, this form affects fine motor skills.  Mine was injury onset - starting with spraining my ankle.  Now, when I walk, my feet tend to drop, which can make walking difficult and tiresome.  Without my braces, I have to walk lifting my legs from the hips, which, after a few minutes, becomes really hard.

On May 2, 2011, I went to my first Zumba class.  I went, not knowing if I would be able to do it, if my feet would allow me to make it through that first hour.  (This was before I got the braces I have now). 

It was a basic class, with the first song I ever learned the choreography to being "Que Te Mueve".  I made it through that class, and was hooked.  Some songs I found nearly impossible to do, but I kept going, kept learning new steps.
Cayla's leg braces
After a year, I got some new braces!  They are probably the ugliest things ever, but really, I'm not complaining... much... because they do help me so much.

Zumba has really been my saving grace.  It keeps me active, and that's key in keeping symptoms of this disease at bay.  Since starting Zumba, my core strength and balance has improved so much. There are things in Zumba that I still physically cannot do. Things like pointing my toes - those heel-toe moves are brutal! Samba kicks my butt... again, because of the toes thing. I am the QUEEN of modifying moves!

Since getting those braces, I'm constantly discovering things that I can do, things that I used to do before all of this. Things like jumping.  A simple jump out, jump in.  The first night at Zumba, I nearly cried when it was time in the choreography to do the dreaded jumping jack move, but to my complete and utter astonishment, I did it!

After two years of Zumba, I can stand in line at a store or the bank without having to shuffle (much), or having to have something to lean on. Zumba has given me back some of the things that this disease started to take away.

If you're thinking about trying Zumba, but there's "something" holding you back, an injury, or the inability to move a certain way, please just give it a try.  Zumba is for everyone.  If there's something you can't do, don't, or modify the move so that you can.  I do it all the time.  The thing is, it's all about moving, and most importantly, having fun while you're doing it! 

Zumba is not about losing weight for me.  That's just an added bonus (I have gone down a couple of sizes!).  It's about keeping myself active, and reasonably fit.  Yeah, it's a little harder for me, but I dearly love a challenge! Tell me that I can't, and I'll do my damnedest to make you eat those words.  Someone, a couple of years ago told me that they didn't think that I'd be able to do Zumba, because of my feet.  Look at me now!
When I say it's for everyone, I mean everyone.  My mother, who is in a wheelchair, does Zumba.  No, she's not up doing the merengue or salsa moves, but she IS doing the arm movements...even if there aren't any.  She's doing arm movements for everything.  So, yeah, Zumba is for anyone and everyone.

I love it so much, that it's become a goal to get licensed as an instructor. Why? Because 1) I think I'd be good at it, and 2) I want to show people that physical limitations shouldn't hold you back. (Update: since writing this, Cayla did get licensed!)

If I can inspire just one person out there....whether it be to go to a Zumba class, or just lace up their sneakers to walk to the end of their driveway and not let the physical limitations get in way of being physically active, then job well done.

You can learn more about Cayla on her blog:

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