“Hi I’m Claire Wheeler. To try and explain what Zumba means to me and how it’s had such a positive affect on my life, I have to go back to the summer of 2008, when I was given the terrifying news that I had a bone tumour attached to my spinal cord at the very top of my spine. It had caused me to lose feeling and strength in my arms and legs – I totally lost the use of my legs in the few days leading up to the diagnosis. In fact, if the doctors said that if I wasn’t operated on within about a few days, there was I high chance that I may never have walked again.
Well, this you may think was bad enough, but just to make it even more scary, I was actually 37 weeks pregnant with my daughter when all this happened. Anyway to cut a long story short, Daisy was delivered safe and well by emergency c-section the following day, and 2 days later I was rushed to another specialist hospital where I stayed for almost 5 weeks. I had 2 major surgeries whilst trying to cope with a newborn baby and a very stressed husband! The tumour was successfully removed and a big chunk of my spine was replaced with a metal rod and lots of nuts and bolts. After that came a long course of radiotherapy and months of physiotherapy to get me walking again and using my arms/hands. Luckily, although I was left with some weakness and nerve damage, I got myself back on my feet.
A year or so passed and then I really felt that my recovery wouldn’t be complete until I lost the weight I gained, not only during pregnancy but also from taking steriods. It was also important for me to try and regain my fitness levels following many many months of hardly moving at all! My posture had changed completely following surgery and I had limited mobility in my neck. What could I do? It wasn’t really worth me going to the gym as I had to steer clear of lifting weights, I couldn’t really swim anymore because I couldn’t move my neck and running was too harsh for my spine. But then, in March 2010 I found out about Zumba and Niki & Team’s local classes.
My sister persuaded me to go with her, I just presumed I wouldn’t be able to do it but she contacted Niki prior to going and asked what it was all about. Niki explained to my sister that everyone can do it at their own pace and to their own ability and should just have fun with it. So we decided to give it a go. Well what can I say, I LOVED IT! I have always liked dancing and I love Latin-style music so it was just like a big Zumba party! Definitely exercise in disguise! Nearly 4 years on and I am still going 2/3 times a week and still loving it just as much.
So that’s my Zumba story – I quite simply would like to thank Zumba with Niki & Team for 1) helping me to loose 2.5 stone 2) greatly improving my fitness, strength and more importantly my posture following surgery and 3) gaining self confidence and feeling good about myself and exercising again. I consider it an important part of my life and long may it continue. “
Wow – what amazing strength Claire! Just when I think we have heard the most amazing story – we hear another – we would love to hear your story ;0)
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Zumba Fitness with NIKI & Team x x