By Savannah Herrmann | 7/8/2022
Let's talk about group exercise with one lung. I was a very active person and an avid runner before my left lung was removed. I set aggressive running goals and worked so hard to achieve those goals - I ate healthy and did everything I could do to stay in great shape. I used to run with people and attend group exercise classes - I would compare myself to others while working out, but I was never nervous or worried about my fitness level. I honestly didn't think having my left lung removed was going to affect my fitness level. I guess it was never really talked about during my appointments leading up to the surgery - we were going through the motions and were always focused on the next appointment. Once I got home and started my recovery process, I quickly realized that this is going to be a long journey and I'm not going to just bounce back. I remember being out of breath while walking up the stairs or while walking to the stop sign by my house. It took me a while to enter the group fitness world again, but when I did I shifted my mindset which really helped.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Only you know your body and what your body is capable of. Nobody else in the class knows your story (unless you have a friend with you, of course), so you are in control. You get to decide what works for you and what doesn't work for you.
SLOW DOWN | MODIFY MOVEMENTS
This advice was EXTREMELY hard for me. I don't want to slow down - I want to keep up with everyone. I don't want others to think I'm "weak" or that I can't handle the class, but you know what, who cares. I used to also think that and it didn't help at all - I would end up breathless and frustrated which would then defeat the purpose of attending a group fitness class. For instance, I used to take a cardio bootcamp class at my local barre studio and instead of doing all the jumping jacks, I would modify the movement. I would simply go through the motions without all the jumps - this modified movement allowed me to keep up with the other movements throughout the class and complete the workout. Who likes jumping jacks anyways?
START WITH SOMETHING YOU KNOW
Attend a class that you might have taken before - something that isn't totally new to you. Maybe you've attended a virtual class at home or maybe this is the type of workout you used to do before a major life change. If you know the general flow of the class and know what to expect, that will be one less thing to focus on or worry about.
Invite a friend to join class with you! Someone who is aware of your situation and can keep you motivated throughout class. I remember I was so nervous to attend my first barre class because I didn't think I could handle it, but having my friend by my side totally helped. She was there right next to me - helping me along the way.
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Repeat. Over and over again. Just keep breathing in and out as you complete your workout.
These few tips have really helped me - I still practice them. There are days when I could play the "I only have one lung" card, but I know I am stronger than that. Most days, I look around and feel proud of myself for showing up, because I am most likely the only person in the room with one lung.
Believe that you can do it, because I know you can!