Hanging on to health
gets into the swing of dealing with cystic fibrosis with Juliet Hubbard.
Juliet Hubbard discovered an unexpected exercise she believed improved her lung function, which was compromised by severe cystic fibrosis: pole dancing.
Hubbard, 32, the ‘‘poster girl’’ for the life-threatening disorder which damages the lungs and digestive system, inspired the fourth annual Pole-tober-fest fundraiser event held in Christchurch on Saturday, which raised nearly $4500 for Cystic Fibrosis Canterbury.
Four years ago the former Christchurch woman took her first pole dancing fitness class at the Liberate Pole Dance and Exercise club after reading an article about the fitness activity’s ability to improve lung function.
‘‘Exercise is quite good for strengthening lungs, even though you don’t feel like it at the time.
‘‘I felt like an idiot telling [my husband] Kris’ parents, ’Just been at my pole class’, but they all know it’s for exercise,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s actually real talent - who can hang upside down on a pole without training for a year at least?’’
Hubbard’s health deteriorated over the past year, with her lung function dropping to 27 per cent, resulting in having to stop her pole fitness and move north to Marlborough with her husband where the air was lighter and the winters more mild.
‘‘A good day for me is getting out of bed, having a shower, cooking the meals and getting out for a walk. A bad day is staying in my PJs all day,’’ she said.
She is currently being assessed to see if she could be a candidate for a lung transplant, the only way to cure end stage cystic fibrosis (CF).
The most common genetic condition in New Zealand, 500 Kiwis are living with CF, according to Cystic Fibrosis New Zealand. The average life span was 37 years, with half dying by the age of 34.
Christchurch Hospital respiratory services clinical director Dr Greg Frazer said an active lifestyle was very important for CF patients.
‘‘Regular exercise can help people with CF to clear the thick sticky mucus from their lungs and improve their daily functioning.’’
He said activities which increased muscle strength and function and improved overall exercise capacity such as pole fitness were recommended to CF patients.
‘‘She works twice as hard to build muscle strength because her body is absolutely fighting so many things,’’ said Liberate Pole Dance and Exercise club owner Liv Allchurch.
‘‘And her attitude... it’s 10 times better than any person who’s been gifted normal lungs.’’
Hubbard said the Cystic Fibrosis New Zealand Canterbury branch had helped her enormously over the years, providing portable oxygen concentrators, nebulisers and hardship support.
The event, which raised $3000 last year, has gone ‘‘from strength to strength’’, said Cystic Fibrosis New Zealand’s Canterbury branch chair Melissa Skenesaid.
‘‘It has allowed us to reach a completely different group of people who are all keen to help people with CF.’’