I Manage My Disability Through Dance

“I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at just 18 months of age. When I was 16, I was told by doctors that I’d be in a wheelchair by the age of 30. They also told me that I needed to keep my joints mobile without causing too much damage through the impact of exercise. Well, that was confusing. What was I supposed to do?

Trying to understand and manage a physical disability that doctors themselves cannot explain is difficult and depressing. It can be debilitating and affects not only you, but your loved ones. It causes hormone fluctuations, organ dysfunction, chemical imbalances, fluid build-up, and affects weight management, not to mention all the side effects from daily medications.

I decided to study Science at University to learn more about arthritis, care for myself, and manage my disease through an active and healthy lifestyle. I also wanted to inspire those in a similar situation, who may have been trying to manage their health issues but were unsure of where to start. I started giving motivational presentations and also began teaching low impact aerobic classes. Eventually, I discovered Zumba classes and I haven’t looked back!

I teach several Zumba classes a week. I’ve had multiple operations to combat the chronic and damaging disease in my joints. Yet, I keep going. Yes, I may limp out of class in pain, but it’s always with a smile on my face and a warmth in my heart, knowing that at least I tried and that I had fun! If nothing else, I am more determined than ever to inspire others on the importance of overcoming limitations.

I am over 40 years old, I am NOT in a wheelchair, and I have no plans to slow down!”

Michelle Fisher, licensed Zumba® Instructor; won’t let rheumatoid arthritis rule her body

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