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Meet Emlee

I am very active in the handbell music community and play regularly with the Back Bay Ringers out of Boston as well as a variety of choirs around New England. We play complicated music at times, and I play the big bass bells which can weigh over 15 pounds. Swinging them around is quite a workout! Before joining DSC, rehearsing two or more times per week was my only regular exercise. 

It was the beginning of the COVID pandemic and I felt like I should do something to maintain my strength as an older woman playing these big bells. But, I had no energy to devote to anything other than work and taking care of my mom who had just had a massive stroke. Then when she died and the pandemic wasn’t ending, I decided I had to do something to maintain my strength for ringing bass bells for whenever rehearsals resumed.

My only real goal was that I wanted to keep my arm strength because I wanted to continue playing really heavy handbells and I needed someone to help me keep doing the exercises despite not wanting to. As I talked with Coach Delaine at DSC, I realized I also had goals for balance (there is a family history of problems here), and that, because I will eventually need to have both knees replaced, I will need leg strength to support me through that surgery.

I was worried that, like my previous attempts at maintaining an exercise routine, I would give it up, lose my arm strength, and have to give up playing handbells. I really didn’t want to do that. I was completely driven by this fear.

I was cautious and nervous at first. I was so concerned that I would fail, yet again, and have to admit I couldn’t play anymore.

Delaine was really gentle and very encouraging during my first session. She had me take breaks, sip water, correct form, and push just enough to do a bit more with very little pain the day or two after each session. She also helped me see the early progress even when I felt like I wasn’t doing very much or making any changes.

DSC really took the time to understand my goals (both immediate about my arm strength for ringing handbells and my long-term balance and stability in preparation for eventual knee replacement surgery). The coaches all do a great job of learning your name, encouraging every action, and making suggestions that push me just a little farther each session. More recently others are also stepping in as my 1-on-1 coach and EVERYONE is really supportive of my small successes that are now amounting to a very large win in terms of my improved whole-body fitness that was not even one of my goals.

I’ve lost 45lbs since joining DSC!

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I was even able to maintain the loss even over holidays. It’s noticeably easier to ring the big handbells, my balance has improved greatly, my knees ache less, I feel much more mobile, and my clothes fit so much better.

I feel confident that I can ring difficult musical passages, I have been less scared to walk on ice, and I feel like I will be ready for surgery when the time comes (which now I think may be delayed because of my improved fitness/weight loss!! – YAY!!)

The coaches both distract and encourage me. That keeps me going when I know I would quit if I were trying to workout on my own. They also adjust the activities in a session to accommodate my knee pain, back pain, and/or my attitude on a given day.

Their attitude of “doing something is better than nothing” does help me get through the sessions when I wouldn’t otherwise persist. This helps me see that not every session has to be my “best” session but just going keeps me on-target.

I have made a real change in my attitudes toward working out. I see now it is not an all-or-nothing situation. I can keep going even if one session is not perfect. The coach’s adjustments to what I need in a given session, yet still maintaining the overall goals, is helping me to stick with exercise in a way that is different from all of my other attempts to exercise regularly.

If you’re ready to transform your health and join DSC, be open with the trainer(s) about how you feel physically and mentally. They will adjust the exercises in the session to help you feel accomplished as well as have minimal pain AND when you’re scheduled to go, show up regardless of how you feel because it will still make a difference.

– Emlee