Written by Chris Boyle, email@example.com Friday, 21 March 2014 00:00
While these days no one needs to be reminded of the benefits of exercise as they pertain to preventing a downturn to your overall health and well-being, one overlooked aspect is the therapeutic aspect exercise can also serve when engaging in an uphill battle against a pre-existing condition.
For years, Carol Rodriguez of Bayville, who currently teaches a Zumba class at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library, had to deal with extensive injuries from a car accident as well as bouts with major illnesses as well; the combined effect upon her was almost too much for her to bear, she said, until she one day connected the dots between injury and exercise, and began her long and slow journey back to health.
“The pain was so severe...I had Fibromyalgia and I was on Synthroid for seven years, and then my body flipped over and I dropped a lot of weight and muscle mass...I could barely crawl,” she said. “I realized that I had to find a way of exercising...you have to move your body, because if you don’t, the arthritis will creep in and then you won’t be able to move at all.”
Formally an avid dancer, in 2009 Rodriguez discovered Zumba, an exciting, high-energy form of dancing exercise, and quickly took to it; soon, she was on the road to recovery, regaining most of her former mobility from before her illness and injury and eventually becoming a certified Zumba and Dancercise instructor herself.
“A lot of people get intimidated by Zumba...they think that it can get very fast and it can,” she said. “But I always tell everybody that you can do Zumba in my class because I used to be in a wheelchair. I had a torn meniscus and arthritis in my knees, a tear in my shoulder, and a herniated disc in my back...but while some days I have to crawl to get to my classes, I can still do it once I get there. If I can do it, you can.“
Rodriguez encourages women, men, and children of any age and degree of physicality to come out and try her special brand of Zumba.
“Zumba is very international...it’s a lot of Latin, a lot of Cha-Cha, Merengue, and Salsa,” she said. “But I like to diversify it and make it my own...I teach it to all types of music. I also can cater the class to the individual...I want to get to know your style and what your limitations are. For example, I met a 20 year-old girl who looked in perfect shape, and when I asked her if she had any challenges, she told me she had a fake leg! I thought she was amazing, and I build a workout around that. I have people in my classes with rods in their backs, knee replacements, challenges all over, and I teach them all.”
Sharon Lashin of Plainview has been a regular at Rodriguez’s class for several years now, and credits it for her current high degree of fitness.
“I love Zumba...it’s great exercise, I love the music, and Carol is a spectacular teacher,” she said. “You get to move around and get your body limber...I like it a lot.”
Plainview resident Jill Bernstein said that Rodriguez’s class has made a lasting overall impression on her; body, mind, and soul.
“I love it...I think it’s a great way to get out and exercise,” she said. “It actually makes me feel better during the week. I’m more calm and relaxed and far less stressed. It even helps me sleep better and I just all-around feel so much better.”
Linda Honig, another Plainview resident, noted that Zumba’s fun factor is what keeps her coming back for more and more.
“I don’t like to exercise, but here I just feel like I’m dancing and having fun,” she said. “I think that all exercise should be something that you enjoy, otherwise you’re not going to continue. I love to dance, so Zumba is something that I really love to do.”
Turning 60 soon, Rodriguez gives thanks to exercise for helping her re-capture her former quality of life and in turn, she said that she wants to pass on that gift to as many people as she possibly can.
“Every day for me is a blessing...if I wasn’t doing this, I’d be back in a wheelchair,” she said. “I want to bring joy back to people and let them know that we have to exercise and it’s very important to do so, and what better way to do it is to be crazy, have fun, and empower the girls and guys that they can do this no matter what your challenges are...just do it your way.”
For more information about Carol Rodriguez’s dance classes, visit www.carolsdancemoves.com.