Lipedema is a chronic illness that can’t be cured. However, regular movement can serve as a lipedema treatment when it comes to reducing fluid retention and pain, and it can also help slow down the development of lipedema. In an interview with Tina Schwarz, she told us how she managed to lead a full and, above all, active life despite her illness and how the bellicon trampoline has changed her everyday life.
Tina, in your blog and podcast Lipedema Talk, you talk all about lipedema in all its shapes and sizes. You also give lots of tips about nutrition, fashion and sports – including with the bellicon. How did you find out about the trampoline?
Tina: „I was approached at an event showcasing various fitness equipment and asked if I would like to try the bellicon trampoline. I got on it without any expectations and really just started bouncing a little bit, thinking: “Wow, amazing, that feels great!” Next to it was a trampoline with metal springs for comparison. So, I went on that one and thought: “You know what? The difference is like night and day!” I still have that video today! I tried a few models and then assembled one right then and there. A few days later, I had brought it home. At the beginning I used it a lot; at some point, I ran out of ideas and it just sort of sat there. Thanks to one of my coaching students, I started working with it again. Now, every Thursday, there are almost 20 of us who regularly exercise together.“
Have you noticed positive health changes since you started using the bellicon?
Tina: „Well, I’ve always been a very athletic person who enjoys sports a lot. But weighing 110 kg at my heaviest, the accompanying lipedema wasn’t great, of course. I was only able to ride my bike and swim, although swimming at such a weight was unpleasant, and then, in the long run, I didn’t feel good at all. That’s why I was always looking for different types of athletic devices. I didn’t buy the bellicon specifically because of my lipedema, but because I had so much fun with it. But I can definitely confirm that a lot of people in my class notice that the water retention and the circumferences of my legs have lessened. Sometimes up to 2 cm less around my legs. Things just seem to happen more smoothly in my body.“
You also completed a bellicon Jumping Certificate with us to become a trainer. How was your experience?
Tina: „I didn’t plan to get my trainer’s license at the bellicon Academy right from the start. But, for me, it was interesting to find out what really happens in the body: how do you perform the steps correctly, or what is posture and what exactly do I have to pay attention to regarding posture? Because of the current pandemic situation, I completed the trainer certification online. What I really liked about it was that I could set aside and organize my own time. I gritted my teeth and managed to complete the program in a short time. I completed the trainer certificate in about four weeks and, during this time, I studied almost every day and exercised for one hour a day. That’s when I noticed how much fitter I had just gotten during that time, and that my strength and endurance were improving. Balance is an issue for a lot of people who are overweight, and it’s harder to get up from your knees, for example; this gets a lot better with the proper training, something that I’ve heard over and over again. I already told you that we always meet with the girls on Thursdays, and in the meantime, I’m leading our course with them. Because, at some point as an amateur, you run out of ideas, but with my trainer’s license I can always incorporate new ideas and exercises into my courses. And with the Health Training program I was able to learn what exercises I could offer and show people what they could do more to activate and encourage lymphatic drainage. I definitely want to keep those coming!“
How do you go about giving bellicon courses for people with lipedema? What do you have to be aware of?
Tina: „In my classes, everyone has lipedema or lymphedema, or a mix of the two. They are also almost all overweight. We’re therefore able to burn a good amount of calories together. (Laughs) We all have our fitness watches on at the end and compare our results with one another: “So... How much did you manage to burn?” In some 50-minute sessions, I’m able to burn 620 calories. That’s really crazy. And the other women take note, of course, and think: “Cool, if it’s that easy, I can lose weight too. One kilo less!” My approach to the lipedema exercises is different from that of a classic jumping workout. Because lots of people with lipedema are also overweight, which is why they can’t build up speed and momentum like one would on a regular trampoline. We tend to do some calmer exercises, and I always show everyone easier and harder versions. Everyone should exercise at their own pace, but everyone should also make sure that the exercises they do are done properly. If so, the exercises can of course be carried out more easily – and the women can see that. I always try to do a mix of lots of different things. So, we sometimes do strength training or exercises for the stomach or for balance practice. I always try to incorporate something from everything. And so everyone always gets their money’s worth.“
Which bellicon exercises do you recommend to your students in your course
Tina: „There’s not really any perfect lipedema exercise. I think that everyone needs to find their own form of exercise that they enjoy. When exercising directly on a bare floor or doing jumps, a lot of people experience pain pretty quickly. With the bellicon’s elastic jumping mat, we can all exercise pain-free and without any problems – even jumping exercises!“
Have you gotten feedback from the participants you’ve worked with on the bellicon trampoline?
Tina: „The students in my course were all very happy. After a few weeks of exercising, a lot of them often switched from a cheaper trampoline model to a bellicon trampoline. And they all say that they’ve experienced a night-and-day difference, as well as a very different feeling after exercising. So, I can only recommend it to everyone to really invest the money and not to exercise with cheap models with steel springs.“