This picture sums up what inspired the birth of Chronically Awesome.
My shoulder is strapped after I tried to do a press up in an exercise class and partially dislocated my shoulder. The class instructor had been encouraging us to move faster and I didn't set up the move properly and out it popped. Without knowing it hadn't gone back in properly, I finished the class and did another one straight after it. In the 3 days my shoulder wasn't properly in the joint, I did permanent damage.
If only I'd known how to exercise safely for my body, and that even classes led by experienced instructors aren't always the best bet when it comes to exercising with hypermobility.
In the picture I've also got a 48 hour heart rate monitor on. Doctors were trying to work out what was causing the chest pain, dizziness, breathlessness and high heart rate I'd suddenly started experiencing. When I was finally diagnosed with a problem with the system that regulates blood pressure and heart rate, I wasn't told how to exercise with it, just that exercise was important as part of treatment and management. But squatting would bring me close to passing out if I didn't stop, and even raising my hands above my head would cause my heart to race. Suddenly the classes I had been doing exacerbated my symptoms and I didn't know how to work around them, and neither did my instructors.
If only there has been a resource out there to help me understand how to exercise with dysautonomia...
This is where Chronically Awesome in comes from. Chronically Awesome is a start-up social enterprise with plans to become a charity that I started working on in January 2019. Our goal at Chronically Awesome is to support people living with incurable chronic illness, helping them in their journeys through life so that they can live up to their true potential. We aim to provide reliable information, guidance and discussion to help people living with chronic illness to become more resilient in mind and body. We are building a ‘community fit for life’.
I've spent years getting my head around exercising with chronic illness, and even now I rely on an incredibly talented and determined team to help me to keep moving and training safely and effectively. Thanks to them my symptoms are improved, my medication is reduced, and I've recovered from major surgeries - including a total hip replacement at the age of 30 - far quicker than anyone expected.
With Chronically Awesome, I want to bring what I’ve learned, and the support of the teachers and instructors I’ve found, to others with chronic illness in a way that is affordable and available to everyone who needs it. I also want to unlock the wisdom of others who are on similar journeys as me, so that together we can help each other.
Our plan is for Chronically Awesome to exercise classes designed for and by people with chronic illness, so that everyone can benefit from regular exercise and movement as safely and affordably as possible. We know some people might be bed-bound while others are able to be regularly active, so to reach our audience, so our classes will be available online for our members to watch wherever they are, and in whatever condition they are in.We'd like to offer a range of classes released in a timetabled format each week so that participants can come together to exercise, even if they're all taking part in different places.
We have the team in place and ready to go, and to get us up and running, we need some initial funding to get recording our first set of classes and bring it to the world.