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Brynn’s Story: Rediscovering Happiness at The Bar Method
Bar Method client and instructor, Brynn, tells her Breast Cancer survivor story and how The Bar Method helped her to rediscover who she was before all of the doctor appointments and surgeries. Brynn found more recovery, both physically and mentally, in a Bar Method studio than any doctor or physical therapist could provide. She speaks about the incredible, supportive, and loving community The Bar Method provided from the second she walked back through The Bar Method Darien studio. She was back with ‘her people’. The Bar Method community truly does incredible things.
“I started taking classes at The Bar Method about 12 years ago when my stepsister invited me to come to a class with her. It was so hard, my body was shaking like crazy, and the instructor was a complete badass. Just like that, I was hooked. Several months later, the owner of that studio asked me to train to be an instructor, which felt like such an honor. I jumped at the opportunity. I had been an athlete through high school and college, and The Bar Method was the only thing that I had stuck with since then.
Teaching at The Bar Method has been the one constant in my life for the last decade. I’ve moved countless times, changed careers, partners, and friends. Through it all, The Bar Method has always been the place that I go to and feel completely myself. Not only that, but I am surrounded by amazing people who are working to better themselves. I started teaching in the Darien Bar Method studio in 2017 and have found my permanent home there. Teaching is my passion. It has been such a gift in my life to have the opportunity to be a part of so many others’ fitness journeys as well as lives. There’s no better feeling than watching a client come to class, see their form improve over time and feel stronger and happier.
In August of 2020, I had some routine testing done that included some bloodwork and a standard mammogram. Right away, I was told that there were some issues with my mammogram. About 40 biopsies later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This was only five days after my 40th birthday and three days after my beloved dog, my best friend for the last 14 years, had passed away. In the weeks to follow, I found out that I had two different types of cancer, one in each breast, as well as a genetic mutation. This put me at a much greater risk for recurrence as well as susceptible to other cancers. My world came to a crashing stop. From that moment on, everything was centered around the multiple doctor appointments each day. I remained pretty positive at this point. I continued to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving. We scheduled a double mastectomy for the second week of October. The plan was to have the mastectomy as well as remove the lymph nodes under my left arm to check for metastasis and then put implants in straight away.
I woke up from the surgery in horrible pain in my both my left arm and shoulder. Because of COVID, I was sent straight home after the surgery, but I knew that something was wrong. It turns out that while taking out my lymph nodes, my arm was positioned incorrectly which caused nerve damage in my shoulder and neck and tendons and ligaments were cut. I was unable to move my left arm without excruciating pain shooting all over my body.
The next few months were unbearable. Filled with doctor appointments and loads of tests, I was struggling and in constant pain. I withdrew into myself. I found myself not wanting to talk with anyone, not my family, my friends, or even my fiancé, Paul, who was quite literally taking care of my every need. All my strength and energy was focused on simply getting through the day. It was an extremely dark time. My situation was complicated, and I was told I needed additional surgery, but I needed the nerve damage taken care of before that could be done. On top of all that, I was having issues with the implants. I had no idea how much longer I was going to be in this pain. I felt hopeless, lost, and desperate. The only thing that existed in my world was pain.
I didn’t recognize myself at all and I became a shell of the person that I used to be. I kept hyper-focusing on the fact that I wasn’t the same person that I was before I was diagnosed. During one of my appointments, a doctor of mine asked me what used to make me happy. The answer was simple, The Bar Method. I had been out of the studio for about 5 months at this point and missed it terribly. When I walked back through the studio doors in Darien, I was home. The support and love that the women have shown me is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. I will never forget coming home from my first surgery to a room filled with flowers and gifts from the instructors and staff.
At this point, I could only lift my arm up to about my waist and had plateaued in physical therapy. I was told that this was the largest range of motion that I would be able to achieve. But the good news? I was able to start teaching again while still being very careful when demoing. Beginning to teach again as well as being in the studio environment brought me back to life. I felt better than I had in such a long time, I was finally back with my people.
Over the next year, I had three more surgeries. This led to ultimately removing the implants, as I had capsular contraction and breast implant illness. Through all of the physical therapy and recovery time, the majority of my healing took place in the Darien studio, both physically and emotionally. Once I was finally able to take a class again, it did far more for me than physical therapy ever could, physically and mentally. My range of motion increased dramatically, and the pain, while still present, got much better. I began to laugh again, which I sometimes feared would never happen again. While the trauma absolutely changed me as a person, I had been so set on getting back to the same person that I was before all of this. At a certain point, I realized that just wasn’t possible anymore. Every experience that I’ve had, good or bad, has molded me into the person that I am today. I am uniquely capable of helping someone else going through what I went through. I can get through really hard things; I am a survivor. I am a Master Instructor at the Bar Method Darien, and our community of fierce, amazing women have loved and supported me through it all.”