I'm not your usual exercise professional. I walked and danced for decades with a reconstructed ankle and a limp, due to my uncanny knack for attracting not one but two head-on automobile collisions. Despite these challenges, I worked as a fitness instructor, specializing in helping beginners start and stick to an exercise program, and I still teach line dancing. My aim has always been to make exercise and dance easy, welcoming, non-threatening, and fun.
Believe me, I know how to start a fitness program from scratch--I've had to learn to walk three times! No childhood athlete, I was chunky and clumsy and didn't even learn to ride a bicycle until age 29. I never knew exercise could be fun until I discovered aerobic dance in my thirties.
My new-found fitness habit helped to save my life and speed my recovery after an unlicensed driver hit me head-on in a near-fatal automobile accident in 1979. I suffered a myriad of injuries, including a smashed face, neck fracture, and shattered heel and ankle. "You'll walk again," doctors told me, "but maybe not normally or painlessly."
"I don't care about walking normally--I want to dance!" I replied. With years of determination and hard work, I got back into the aerobics room--this time as an instructor, not a student--and released my own workout video, The New LI Teknique. Sixteen years after that accident, I was again hit head-on by another out-of-control driver November 25, 1995. The same damaged leg and ankle were severely fractured.
After months of excruciating pain and distress, I taught myself--literally one step at a time--to walk, bicycle, and dance again. For months I was a familiar figure walking the park on crutches or working out at the health club on any machine that could be done with two arms and one leg. I even attended my favorite line dance classes on crutches. I knew I'd be in pain whether I went out and did the things I love or stayed in bed. I decided I'd rather do the things I love. I had to get back to having a life.
In 2015, I was lucky enough to get a new ankle via ankle replacement surgery, which had not been invented at the time(s) I was injured. I can now walk and dance without pain.
If you're a beginning (or a beginning-again) exerciser, I know how you feel. I know what it's like to be exhausted because you just walked down your driveway to the mailbox. But you can choose whether to be discouraged because that's all you can do today, or exhilarated because you did more than you could yesterday.