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Becoming a Spinning Instructor Helped Save My Life

I have been somewhat of an athlete my whole life and have been an avid gym rat for years. I have run many races, including six marathons, and played sports while growing up. When I was in my 30s, I started attending Spinning® classes and really liked them. I found it very effective for keeping in shape and getting a good cardio workout. It seemed to be a very good complement to running, which I loved. I remember saying to myself and to my partner many times that I really wanted to be a Spinning instructor. Like many things that I wanted to do, it seemed like I just couldn’t get around to taking the time to get certified.

In 2007, I watched the movie Bucket List and it really touched me. I started thinking about all of the things that I ever said I wanted to do or become that I never achieved and being a Spinning instructor was on the list. I started back on the Spinning program. I prepared myself to pass the certification—I could only assume it was going to be hard! At this point, I was 52 years old. I knew if I didn’t become a Spinning instructor then, I could forget about ever becoming one.

When I took the certification course, I had a wonderful Master Instructor and was totally inspired by her teaching approach. I knew that I wanted to emulate her approach while creating my own style. After I learned what she taught me about using a heart rate monitor, I wanted to learn more. It became my goal to be a top-of-the-line instructor and to take on the task of teaching people the importance of using a heart rate monitor. I attained my STAR 3 status and had been appointed four permanent classes at Washington Sports Club – Dupont. Some people thought that I was crazy for teaching so many classes, but I loved it. Not only was I in the best cardiovascular shape of my life, I was having a huge impact on the club members' lives by teaching them about heart rate training and building an aerobic base. My classes were full very often and I built a following for each class I took over. Things were coming along rather well.

February 2009 was the beginning of the next part of this story. One morning, I happened to find a lump on my right breast. I thought to myself, was this there before? After a few days, I called my doctor.

My doctor sent me to get an ultrasound with an additional order to do a biopsy and an aspiration. I went to my ultrasound appointment and was told that it was a benign lump. The person who performed the ultrasound recommended against the biopsy—since I had implants, I would run the risk of rupturing the implant. She said since it was not cancerous, it was best to leave it alone if it was not bothering me. Six months later, I made another appointment with both my gynecologist and the radiologist for another ultrasound—I had found another lump under my right breast. It was small and I had no idea whether it had been there all along and I had missed it or if it was new. The radiologist still believed the lumps were benign, but said if it would make me feel better to go to a surgeon, then I should. I was again reminded of the risks with implants while getting a biopsy.

On Nov. 3, 2009, the surgeon said that the shading in the photographs of these lumps didn’t necessarily look cancerous. By the time I finally got that appointment, my entire right side was filled with lumps! He believed that I needed to find out why there was so much going on in that area, even if it was benign. After doing a breast exam, he told me he might not be quite as concerned about the lumps if I didn’t have a significantly enlarged lymph node under my armpit. Needless to say I had been misdiagnosed up until that point!

I had a mastectomy on Dec. 7, 2009. At the time, it seemed as if the surgery was the worst thing ever because it was so uncomfortable. The day after my first chemotherapy treatment on Jan. 8, I practiced my first Spinning class by myself after not having been on a Spinner® bike since Dec. 5, which was the last class I taught. I was on medication, but it felt great to be on the bike again and I felt better after the hour that I rode. I went back to the gym the next day and did another hour. It was great—I felt I was making so much progress.

On Jan. 11, 2010, I had the Neulasta® shot, which is injected to elevate the white blood cells. I spent the next nine days in severe bone pain. Attending Spinning classes and work became impossible for me. After the last shot I received, I took all of the precautions and have been able to significantly reduce the bone pain so far.

On Jan. 25, 2010, I taught my first class post-surgery. At that time, I decided to teach two weeks on and one week off after my chemotherapy treatments. Instead of four classes a week, I am going to teach two a week until my treatment is over. I taught a private class just two days after my second chemotherapy appointment and it made me feel much better. One of the owners of WSC Dupont, Paul London, bought me a brand new Spinner bike so that I can ride at home while I am going through treatment.

My doctor says chemotherapy completely deconditions you and that it is very important to start the process of reconditioning. Chemotherapy can completely alter one’s metabolism, which is why it is so easy for some women going through breast cancer treatments to gain weight. My doctor said it is important for me to attend Spinning classes so I can start the process of reconditioning myself. Even though I am only teaching two classes a week, I will practice Spinning classes as much as I can during this time. I’m convinced that by starting the process of building my base again, I will be feeding my cells the oxygen that they need to stay healthy and lowering the chances of reoccurrence dramatically. In fact, I firmly believe that had I not been going to Spinning classes throughout this time frame, my cancer would have probably metastasized, as I was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer. I have followed the aerobic guidelines for the last three years and although I am not out of the woods yet, I believe that becoming a Spinning instructor and learning how to train properly most likely saved my life.

My goal is to reach as many people as I can on my journey to teach them the importance of heart-rate training for optimal cell health and early detection of breast cancer to lessen the treatments and procedures. I want to leave people with the notion that three things we have control over are our emotions, diet and exercise program. Keep taking Spinning classes, do yourself a favor and get a heart rate monitor and take on your life today. I promise you it will make a difference!

Mary Dolbashian


Heart Rate Monitors

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