Rediscover What Matters
We’ve been fiercely committed to real results and meaningful innovations based on scientific insight and the tireless pursuit of fitness perfection.
We are thrilled to introduce one of our newest contributors to the Cybex blog, Virginia Ray Harshman. Virginia resides in sunny Sarasota, Florida, and is a CPT, Certified Cancer Exercise Specialist, and holds a CISSN from the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Virginia earned an MBA from the University of Notre Dame and is currently pursuing post-graduate studies in Human Nutrition and Health Education. She is an NPC Masters’ Bikini competitor and yoga enthusiast who has also completed the Chicago Marathon twice and numerous half-marathons. Being a recent breast cancer survivor has reshaped Virginia’s fitness goals and outlook on life, as she outlines in her introductory blog.
In July, 2015, I heard those three little words that no one wants to hear: “You have cancer.” How could my body have let me down like this? I was good to her! I fed her organic, clean food. I took her to the gym and yoga classes. I fortified her with the best supplements. The feelings of loss and betrayal that a cancer diagnosis brings can be devastating. If you were an athlete, the scenario is compounded by feelings of uncertainty about your future; will you ever have the strength, endurance, power or skill that you worked so hard to develop? Will you have to turn in your “athlete card”? I was very nervous.
Immediately after surgery, you are instructed to lift nothing heavier than a gallon of milk. This is pretty demoralizing for someone like me, who used to carry and drink two gallons of water a day when preparing for an NPC Bikini competition. Yes, you can do little movement exercises and go to physical therapy, but for the most part you find yourself inactive. After about a week of this, I started to go bonkers! Not only did I rely on exercise to strengthen my body, but it was also a major part of my coping mechanism and a way to shut out the world and relax. Battling cancer is about as stressful as it gets, so I had a major dilemma to deal with. On the suggestion of my husband, I decided to try out the recumbent bike at my gym.
Generally, these apparatuses are the playground of the elderly set (I do live in Florida), or folks just trying to catch up on their reading or conversations with the person next to them. Real athletes, as I fashioned myself to be, don’t ride recumbent bikes! However, due to neuropathy in my feet, which is a common side effect of chemotherapy, even walking outside was dangerous for me. Thus, I approached the recumbent bike and tried to make friends with her. As soon as I started riding, I knew that I had found my new salvation. Over the next few weeks I rode hundreds of miles on the recumbent bike. I mastered the various programs, riding up hills and increasing my mileage. I documented my progress and really surprised myself. I felt my legs and lower body regaining strength and endurance.
If you find yourself in a situation similar to mine, here are some things to remember:
Working Towards Your Fitness Goals
Drop calories. Burn fat. Gain muscle. Regardless of your fitness goals or experience level, the Cybex Workout Center provides free programs to help sculpt your core and tone your upper and lower body through an array of cardio and power workouts.