I first became aware of Megan Densmore when I was asked to feature information on my blog about a film called Invisible. Invisible is a documentary (soon to be released) about fibromyalgia and other chronic illnesses. Megan is one of the producers of the film and also happens to be a fellow fibromyalgia warrior.
Zero to Hero
Megan recently got in touch with me to ask if I would like to try her new online program, Zero to Hero. Zero to Hero is an online exercise program created specifically for people with fibromyalgia. After chatting to Megan about the program I decided that I would love to try it. Full disclosure though, I was feeling a little reserved about how successful I would be!
I will fully admit that exercise is something that I struggle with. It’s a balancing act for me. If I do too much, I suffer from post-exertion malaise. But, equally, if I move too little then my fatigue and pain worsen. For me, it’s about the right amount and the right type of movement/exercise.
A program designed by someone who understands fibro
I’ve experimented a lot by myself and have found restorative yoga and Qigong to be very helpful. However, I’ve often wished that I could get help from someone who fully understands the challenges of exercising with fibromyalgia. Someone who could help me to progress further than I’ve managed to by myself.
This is exactly why I didn’t want to pass up on Megan’s kind offer to help me through her program Zero to Hero. I’m just getting started with Zero to Hero, so it’s too early for me to write a full blog post about it. However, so far I am incredibly impressed by Megan. She is accepting of my limitations and already I have been given some helpful and insightful suggestions, along with advice and support to help me succeed.
It’s clear that Megan genuinely wants to help other fibromyalgia sufferers. And she has a lot of potential to do just that through her program Zero to Hero. I, therefore, thought it would be valuable to interview Megan, to learn and share more about her story and her program Zero to Hero.
Pin for later (interview follows image):
My interview with Megan Densmore:
When were you diagnosed with fibromyalgia and how did it affect your life?
I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia when I was a teenager. My symptoms were fairly mild at first although I did notice fatigue and declining athletic ability right away. In fact, that is what led me to a rheumatologist in the first place. I was a sprinter and during a track practice, I knew something was wrong when I couldn’t push on the gas.
By the time I was graduating from college, about 6 years after my diagnosis, my symptoms were debilitating. I actually moved back home for 9 months to see about treatment options even though I was still very much in denial.
Exercise featured heavily in your recovery. Have you always been an active person?
Yes! I was a gymnast and dancer from when I was very small and I played many sports in high school. I had dreams of going to the Olympics and dancing on the Broadway stage. At the height of my challenges with fibromyalgia, the hardest part was the decline in my physical activity level and my ability to do the things I loved. I was stubborn and continued to exercise despite flares. My doctors were always shocked.
What adaptations did you have to make to enable yourself to exercise safely?
I didn’t always exercise safely. That said, about 11 years ago I decided to become a classical Pilates instructor and I spent a full year being mentored on movement and being curious about how my body responded to the exercises. I stopped all other forms of organised exercise for 3 full years and did only pilates.
The trick I found was scaling the exercise and increasing my body awareness. Through educating myself about exercise I was empowered to make good choices and I learned what those choices were. This turned into me helping clients with chronic pain do the same. Because fibro symptoms can vary vastly from day to day it was important for me to become the educated decision maker about how much and what I would do for exercise daily. Knowledge was truly power.
How long did it take for you to feel the benefits of exercise and in what ways did it impact your health?
I would say it took about 6 months to begin to notice the benefits. However, it is important for me to mention that I started shifting my exercise 11 years ago and I have only had my symptoms in remission for about 6 years. I started with exercise and that empowered me to have the energy and positive mindset to make other lifestyle changes around diet, supplementation, meditation, etc. and release my self-destructive and inflammatory emotional eating patterns that greatly impacted the frequency of my flares.
Nutrition is key for me but the exercise had to come first for me to have the ability emotionally to take on and stick to the other lifestyle changes. The gift with starting with exercise is that it is emotionally empowering instantly and physically beneficial within just a few weeks once the best starting place is identified for each individual person.
What motivated you to create Zero to Hero?
After realising the impact that my expertise was having on my in-person clients in NYC I became determined to figure out a way to offer myself and my knowledge as a resource to anyone in the world who was willing to trust me to take this on with them. I also realised that most of the people who needed my help the most could not afford to pay me over $100 per hour to help them. Zero to Hero allows me to reach more people at a much lower price point while still providing as much value as I have done one on one.
Many fibromyalgia sufferers struggle with exercise and suffer from post-exertion malaise and a flare up of pain following exercise. How does Zero to Hero differ from other exercise programs?
Zero to Hero is designed with this knowledge in mind. It is designed to ease you into exercise at your own pace and slowly build up your endurance and exercise tolerance. Along the way, we are tracking your recovery and making choices about how best to approach the program for your individual needs. We are also working together to get to know your body.
The more you know the better choices you can make on a day to day basis. Also, the more you aware you become of the signals your body is giving you the more likely you are to be able to predict when doing a certain thing might cause a flare and you can make adjustments in order to decrease the frequency or severity of a flare. I’m not saying you will never flare, just that your body will get stronger and more resilient and more capable of bouncing back.
Fibromyalgia is very variable. Is Zero to Hero safe for all levels of illness? Or do people need to have a starting level of fitness? Can people who are bed or housebound use your program?
I do not pretend that Zero to Hero can work for everyone but I am always willing to give it a shot! I have a few participants who we have had to work together to scale back the beginning workouts and ease them in even more gently. This is something I am more than happy to do! I love a challenge and I believe that if someone is mentally READY to take this on, even if bed or housebound, we can give it a shot. There is truly nothing to lose in those cases and I am up to exploring how to start them where they are.
What benefits can people expect to gain through following Zero to Hero?
You can expect to gain greater body awareness and increased endurance as well as a movement education. By the end of the program, you will have three total body workouts that you can continue to do moving forward as well as the ability to creatively mix and match exercises based on what your body is telling you.
You will also gain an improved mindset about your body’s exercise potential and about your own boundaries. You will be able to choose what agrees with you and what doesn’t moving forward indefinitely. Maybe the most important thing, you will learn how to carve out time for your exercise, why it is important to do that and you will learn how to commit and re-commit to something multiple times over the course of the year. We all fall off the wagon – I will hold your hand as you get back on again and again and again.
If people are interested in learning more, where can they find out more information about Zero to Hero?
They can go here to learn more, fill out a questionnaire to see if Zero to Hero is right for them and get a free download of 3 sample exercises.
What are your thoughts on Zero to Hero? Is this something that you would be willing to try? Let me know in the comments below. I will be sure to update you on my progress in a few months time!