This month we're spotlighting Row House Chelsea member Pamela. Pamela, a breast cancer survivor, joined our crew in February. She lives in Clifton, New Jersey and works as General Manager for an off-Broadway Theater Company.
Pamela, center, with fellow Row House members Claire (left) and Julia (right) at this year's Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in NYC.
How/when did you get involved in Row House?
Looking to try new things, my friend and I signed up for a class at Row House. I had rowed before at gyms but never really knew what I was doing.
Do you remember your first workout? How was it?
I 100% remember my first class! I waited for my friend outside on the street and we could hear the instructor and the music for the class before ours. It sounded energetic, but a little like spin (which we did not want to do). We were wondering what we'd gotten ourselves into and asked the front desk guy (Ben) if we were going to die. He reassured us we wouldn't ... He was right. We had a BLAST! We LOVED the class and immediately signed up for more! I've been going 1 to 2 times a week ever since, and I invite new friends all the time!
How have you grown in that time — health, body, mind, etc.?
Because I enjoy the class so much, it's made it really easy to commit to working out. At my age, losing weight is HARD ... but I've found myself wanting to push harder, not just on the erg, but with the floor exercises as well!
Tell us about your journey with breast cancer.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer (and the BRCA gene) 13 years ago, when I was 27 years old. I had limited knowledge that breast cancer was in my family but was not aware of a genetic mutation. Understanding that genetic risk helped me in making the decision to have a bilateral mastectomy.The reconstruction was complicated, and my plastic surgeon actually had to move a portion of my latissimus dorsi muscle into my breast. Ironically, among the things they told me this would affect was rowing! They said it would be difficult to row and I probably wouldn't be able to ever do it. Proved them wrong! (They also told me I probably couldn't rock climb … I never challenged that one!)
In addition to surgery, I also had 8 rounds of chemo and 30 rounds of radiation. As a young, single woman, it was hard having my physical appearance so radically changed. At one time I was bald, without eyelashes or eyebrows and, due to reconstruction complications, I only had one breast (which wasn't real). But it didn't stop me from going out with my friends! I learned to really think about what makes us shine.
I also started participating in long distance Breast Cancer fundraisers (the Avon 39-mile walk or the Komen 60-mile walk). I found it easier to push myself because I know how hard my body can be pushed. I know what pain is.
I also learned that everyone's personal challenge is relative to their own experience.
What's your workout history like? How is Row House different than what you've done before?
I used to be a pretty loyal gym person. On the morning of my last chemo, I went to the gym. But somewhere along the way, life got hard and committing to working out was harder. But there is correlation to gaining weight and a breast cancer occurrence, so staying in shape has always been in the forefront of my mind. For the last couple of years, running was my main form of working out.
Row House is different. The class atmosphere means I don't have to think about it. The energy in the room inspires me to push. I feel like I'm getting a full body work out and I'm not destroying my knees!
What do you enjoy most about Row House?
Aside from the above, the instructors! They are all so kind but push you to do your best!
What keeps you coming back?
The atmosphere! The room always feels so supportive! I never think about image. We're all there to row as a team, and that feels like a great way to start the day!
What's your favorite class type and movement?
I think I like Body best, but maybe it's because it's what I've taken most often. My favorite row is the sprints at the end!
Do you have any advice for new members?
Try it! Ask for help! It took me a long time to figure out rowing as a team and pacing. Once I learned that, it made a huge difference!
What do you hope to achieve in the coming year?
I'm holding some extra weight that I'll be more than happy to shed! Maybe doing Macy's plank series without dropping a knee!
How would you describe yourself?