I have always said, “I am allergic to exercise – it makes me break out in sweat.” My gym teachers never found it funny. Neither did physical therapists who aim to generate sweat as part of the healing process. The therapists at the clinic expressed their deep concern for their clients’ pain with a two word sign, “No whining.”
Some disobeyed. One client left the staff rolling their eyes at the whiner. Still, the therapists and techs welcomed the newcomer and insisted exercise continue in spite of the complaints.
“My leg won’t bend,” the whiner said. I nodded understandingly. I had been doing three or four different exercises 30 times per session, three times a day at home or in the clinic. I needed to get my knee to bend after being in a brace for a few months. I learned that walking requires a flexible knee. I may not like exercise, but I do enjoy being able to walk freely
I told the whiner, “Riding a stationary bike three times a day for fifteen minutes at a time worked for me. I bought and put a used stationary bike in the laundry room so I could pedal fast to nowhere. My leg began bending more and more.”
I received a cross-eyed scoffing look in response.
Every time I left physical therapy I saw a letter from Champagnolle Landing (CL) tacked to the wall. It offered continued exercise opportunities. Although I had gone occasionally to CL before, I now planned my day around time to exercise there.
At first I rode the stationary bike, used the elliptical machine, treadmill and a couple other machines that build the leg muscles. As I cranked along on the machines, I watched the folks in the organized classes. They performed many of the same exercises done in physical therapy (PT) such as squeezing a plastic ball between the knees, squats and leg lifts. I decided to join the mostly sitting exercise class to rebuild my strength. The day I kicked my leg backwards to my hand, I glowed at the accomplishment. No one else had any clue how important that was to me.
In a few months that class became easy so I quit and joined a standing exercise class. I huffed and puffed my way through more PT exercises such as stepping sideways and various flexions of the foot similar to those in PT. A year later, someone said, “you are walking much better.” The side steps and marching in place had worked their magic.
Last year, after a partial hip replacement, I returned to physical therapy. Covid had shut the doors to CL so I joined Planet Fitness. At first I could barely tolerate two minutes on the elliptical. By the time Champagnolle reopened, I rode it for much longer periods with no discomfort.
This week my husband’s partial knee replacement made our fifth round of PT. He hobbles now. I expect him to glide when he concludes his sessions. Eventually he will ease back into walking the circuit and doing the machines at CL.
The community is blessed to have Champagnolle Landing to assist them. Folks don’t have to have had physical therapy to go to CL. Besides exercising options, CL provides a place to exercise the mind with games, puzzles and social interaction with others.
For my husband and I, physical therapy followed by repeating the same exercises at Champagnolle Landing enhanced the healing process. It is not easy. It is not fun, but the results are worth the effort even for folks like me who break out in sweat when we exercise.