By Christina Castañeda
As a fitness instructor or enthusiast, you’re an active person who “looks” healthy and in shape. But what happens when your body starts to slow down? Do you dismiss it as overtraining or burnout? For Hope Nagy, a Spinning® Instructor
for nearly 15 years, she started feeling a shortness of breath, even during simple tasks. So she followed her instincts, which ended up saving her life.
It’s Just Stress
As a busy mother of two daughters, Hope lives an active lifestyle, so when her energy and breathing levels began to drop, she stopped teaching an early morning classes thinking that she was overtraining. While trying to cut back on her physical activity, she still knew that what she was feeling wasn’t normal when her energy levels didn’t pick up and her breathing became worse. When the doctors said she was “fine,” she didn’t feel relieved when they dismissed her health problems as just stress or menopause.But Hope couldn’t ignore her instincts. When she wasn’t dismissed for stress any longer, but rather because she “should speak to someone” inferring that she needed counselling, she knew that the lingering abnormal and sluggish feelings are more than stress pains and far from insanity.After switching doctors, Hope found out that she was born with a hereditary heart condition and had been living with a “defective aortic heart valve, putting other organs at risk and caused the heart to be extremely enlarged.” Had she been given a simple echo cardiogram, she would have discovered that this condition (along with a family history of heart problems) should not have been overlooked by her doctors, especially since all she needed from them was a referral to a cardiologist.
Pulling Back Is Not an Option
For most fitness instructors and enthusiasts, taking time away from exercising was not an easy task. “It would have been easier when I started to feel fatigued to skip workouts and lay around, [but] that’s not my personality,” Hope says. Instead of pulling back completely, she “reinforced her beliefs” in fitness and put her coaching and training skills to good use.Hope continued her training until the day before surgery. “I needed my heart to be its strongest, and to me, I was training for the biggest race in my life; open heart surgery.” With the advantage of leading a healthy lifestyle for many years, Hope walked into the hospital and, instead of taking the recommended 14 days -Hope was released from the hospital after only 5.
When Hope arrived home and continued her recovery, she had to start adjusting to post-surgery life, which meant changing her wardrobe to hide the scars. The more revealing, sexier tops with plunging necklines and spaghetti straps were harder to wear because, as Hope says, “the scar isn’t so sexy.” But hiding the scars isn’t optional for Hope, people ask to see them anyway, so she is confident enough to show that battle scars do heal and that we can come back from any obstacle.
New Spinning® Classes
Getting back to teaching her Spinning classes was one of Hope’s motivating factors for making a full recovery. “Nothing made me feel better than having my Spinning class text me for two weeks to say ‘OMG you need to get back here. We miss you yelling at us’,” Hope says.Although teaching Spinning classes gave Hope a rewarding and powerful workout for herself, she started to teach more off the bike after her surgery. She is also even more committed to the heart health of her riders, encouraging them to wear heart rate monitors
and reminding them that “the heart muscle is more important than their exterior muscles.” Teaching off the bike has even helped her riders with their heart health as it will “increase at least 10 beats when walking towards them,” says Hope.
What’s Next for Hope Nagy?
Children, no matter their age, want their moms to live a long time. With Hope’s new tissue valve and aortic root, her life expectancy has significantly increased. And although she has to replace her valve every ten years, she has more incentive to “check off a few things on the bucket list.”
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“Each year, more women die from heart disease than from breast cancer,” Hope says, so Hope advises women to put echo cardiograms on the wellness checklist in addition to a mammogram.When your stress is dismissed as overtraining, menopause, or as simply psychological, remember to follow your instincts and be reluctant to dismiss problems so easily.Did Spinning help you improve your recovery from a major life changing event or illness? We want to hear from you! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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