"If there's one thing I want people to know, it's that the gift of movement is a privilege."

By By Joni Green (as told to Faith Brar)
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Being active has always been a huge part of my life. Growing up, my parents were all about being outdoors, going hiking and exploring as much as possible. It was only natural that I was drawn to outdoor sports in school, finding my niche in tennis and eventually playing at the college level.

I never thought that being able to do all of these things was something I took for granted-until my mother was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gherig's disease). Over the course of 18 months, I saw her go from being someone who was always on the move to losing that part of herself entirely. My mom was the furthest thing from a couch potato. She did indoor cycling; she hiked; she biked; she did Pilates and barre; she lifted weights. She only stopped moving when the ALS took hold. Watching her lose her independence like that was utterly devastating. (Related: Why the Diseases That Are the Biggest Killers Get the Least Attention)

My family and I watched her slowly deteriorate, and we knew she didn't have a lot of time left with us. All I wanted to do was spend every waking moment I could with her, but with all my attention and focus on my mom, my personal health and well-being were put on the back burner-something I didn't realize at the time.

My mom passed away in July 2015, and I shut down completely after that. I fell into a what seemed to be an irrevocable depression because, for me, I had lost my best friend and my mother all at the same time.

Soon my husband began to notice that I didn't want to go anywhere, do anything, or see anyone. So, for my birthday that September, he decided to buy me an indoor bicycle to help me get out of my funk.

Four weeks passed, and I just let it sit there. But then, after a lot of motivation and encouragement from my husband, I decided to get on for the first time. At this point, emotionally, I didn't feel much of anything-I was just numb. But as I started pedaling faster and faster, I started to feel something. I started to feel anger.

I started to realize that over the past two years I had built up this wall and was constantly masking my emotions because I was afraid to face them. And then after what felt like hours on that bike, I felt those feelings of frustration and sadness start to dissipate-not by much, but enough to notice a difference in my mood.

I stood up from that ride with a new sense of awareness. I realized that having movement as an outlet for my pain was a gift-something my mom would have loved to have. But ALS took that from her. In that moment, I realized that taking exercise and movement for granted wasn't an option because you really don't know what the future holds.

Finding and holding on to that mindset opened a whole new avenue of possibilities for me. I wanted to share this empowerment through movement with others. So after a few months on the bike and feeling more confident in my fitness abilities, I decided to try out to become an instructor at CycleBar-an indoor cycling studio. I've always been a huge believer in boutique fitness studios because they bring together motivating instructors with clients who are eager to learn. So I knew it would be the perfect environment for me to use what I've learned to inspire others both on and off the bike. (Related: Robin Arzon Shares How a Near-Death Experience Inspired Her to Become a Trainer)

It's been a year and a half since I started teaching at CycleBar, and to say that it's transformed my life is an understatement. I feel more confident, more empowered, and stronger than ever. Most importantly, I've learned not to take anything for granted.

When my husband got me that bike after my mother died, I had a choice. I could continue to curl up in a fetal position and refuse to live my life. Or I could stand up, put one foot in front of the other, and fight back. That bike helped me get to the healthier, happier place I'm at today. (Related: How Swimming Helped Me Recover from Sexual Assault)

When people come into my class and aren't sure if they're going to make it until the end, I remind them of how lucky they are to simply be there in the studio. Movement is a privilege that too many take for granted. So be grateful, count your blessings, and most importantly, move because you can.

Comments (6)

Anonymous
March 9, 2020
My first symptoms of ALS occurred in 2011, but was diagnosed in 2013. I had severe symptoms ranging from shortness of breath, balance problems, couldn't walk without a walker or a power chair, i had difficulty swallowing and fatigue. I was given medications which helped but only for a short burst of time, then i decided to try alternative measures and began on ALS Formula treatment from Akanni herbal centre t, It has made a tremendous difference for me (Visit www. akanniherbalcentre .com). I had improved walking balance, increased appetite, muscle strength, improved eyesight and others.   
Anonymous
February 14, 2019
My Wife was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) when she was 72 years old 4 years ago. The Rilutek (riluzole) did very little to help her. The medical team did even less. Her decline was rapid and devastating. Her arms weakened first, then her hands and legs. Last year, a family friend told us about Organic Herbal clinic and their successful ALS TREATMENT, we visited their website www. organicherbalclinic. com and ordered their ALS Formula, i am happy to report the treatment effectively treated and reversed her Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), most of the symptoms stopped, she is able to walk and eat well, sleep well and exercise regularly., she is pretty active now and her attitude is extremely positive.
Anonymous
February 14, 2019
My Wife was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) when she was 72 years old 4 years ago. The Rilutek (riluzole) did very little to help her. The medical team did even less. Her decline was rapid and devastating. Her arms weakened first, then her hands and legs. Last year, a family friend told us about Organic Herbal clinic and their successful ALS TREATMENT, we visited their website www. organicherbalclinic. com and ordered their ALS Formula, i am happy to report the treatment effectively treated and reversed her Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), most of the symptoms stopped, she is able to walk and eat well, sleep well and exercise regularly., she is pretty active now and her attitude is extremely positive.
Anonymous
January 17, 2019
My first ALS symptom appeared in 2011. 4 years ago I learnt about ALS/MND successful chinese medicine from Rich Herbs Foundation (ww w. richherbsfoundation.c om), the treatment made a tremendous difference for me. Few weeks into the treatment I had improved muscle strength and coordination, improved speech, improved walking balance, increased appetite, improved eyesight and improved mood swings. 4 years since the treatment, i still feel stronger than ever with no symptoms at all, only occasional tingling on my right foot at night. I feel cured from the disease!
Anonymous
September 16, 2018
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Anonymous
June 19, 2018
My father had ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) for 3 years His first symptoms were weakness in his hands and losing his balance which led to stumbling and falling. He never lost the ability to swallow or breathe. His one hand, then his legs, were affected first; then his arms. The Rilutek (riluzole) did very little to help him. The medical team did even less. His decline was rapid and devastating. The psychological support from the medical centre was non-existent and if it were not for the sensitive care and attention of his primary physician, he would have died . There has been little if any progress in finding a cure or reliable treatment. So this year his primary physician suggested we started him on Natural Herbal Gardens ALS Herbal mixture which eased his anxiety a bit,We ordered their ALS herbal treatment after reading alot of positive reviews, i am happy to report this ALS herbal treatment reversed my dad condition. His quality of life has greatly improved and every one of his symptoms including difficulty in walking and slurred speech are gone. Their official web site is ww w. naturalherbalgardens. c om He will be 74 soon and can now go about his daily activities