Reimagining Life with MS (multiple sclerosis)
Multiple Sclerosis, known as MS, is a an autoimmune disease where the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves. There are varying levels of MS and different symptoms occur for each individual affected with MS. Some people have difficulty walking, feel tired often, have muscle weakness or spasms, get blurred vision, have numbness and tingling and/or pain. No one knows why someone gets MS; but the first symptoms start to occur between the ages of twenty to forty. Some people have relapses, where the symptoms get worse, but then have times of recovery when they feel better. Others just have symptoms that get worse and worse over time.
I had a student in my Pilates class a few years back who had MS and she did such a great job working her core and staying as active as she could. She had to use a walker to move around the city; but once she got to class, she did all of the exercises the other women did. Pilates is a great exercise for those who suffer from MS because of it’s focus on the deep core muscles that help with stability and balance. Pilates teaches body awareness and helps with flexibility and joint mobility all which is great for those with MS. I love the mind/body benefits of both yoga and Pilates for stress reduction which is key when you have a debilitating disease. In Pilates we do a great deal of mat work either seated or lying down which is ideal for those with MS and unsteady on their feet. Also, Pilates is low impact and there is less risk of overheating or fatigue like with other higher impact forms or exercise.
I recently had the honor of speaking with both Jamie Lynn-Sigler and Ben Ford who’ve had MS affect their lives tremendously. The beautiful actress Jamie Lynn-Singer (you may remember her from The Sopranos), has been living with relapsing MS for the past 15 years. She started feeling tingling in her feet and eventually they discovered she had MS. She silently lived with the depression, pain, numbness, loss of bladder control and all of the other horrible side effects of the disease. She finally decided to speak out about it and talks about her story openly on www.reimaginemyself.com. She told me she loves to do Pilates as a form of exercise. She also has a wonderful son and is happily married; and she focuses on all of the good things in her life. I am so in awe and have such admiration for her.
When I spoke to Ben, his story is about living with someone you love who suffers from MS. Ben Ford, son of Harrison Ford, grew up cooking with his mom. He said she loved to share food and cook for everyone and always has an open table for friends and family to join around. Once his mother was diagnosed with MS, he had to do more to help her out in the kitchen and take over some of the planning. He learned to become a great cook from his mom and through his experiences of figuring it all out on his own. He told me his mother did the best she could to still be an awesome mom and do all that she could while dealing with her MS symptoms.
Jamie and Ben are both ambassadors on the Reimagine Myself website along with style expert, Jeannie Mai, and others affected with MS. Reimagine Yourself is an excellent resource for everyone who wants to know more about MS, anyone who is suffering from MS and needs a support group, those with family and friends who may have MS, as well as those who want to read some incredibly inspiring stories. You can also find great tips from Ben about navigating a farmer’s market to throwing a dinner party, or style tips from Jennie.
I would love to hear from you, if you’ve had any first hand experiences with MS yourself.
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is currently teaching yoga with Peloton. She is the star of over 100 videos, seen in several magazines and tv shows and is a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!