Gina Daddazio Won’t Allow MS to Slow Her Down

Instructor Gina Daddazio demonstrates a workout in her TRX for multiple sclerosis class at the West Chester Area YMCA

It’s been almost a decade, but Gina Daddazio hasn’t forgotten the feeling.

Gina has always prided herself on maintaining an active lifestyle, particularly with her workouts at the YMCA of Greater Brandywine’s West Chester Area location. Ten years ago, though, she knew something was wrong.

Gina couldn’t stay on her feet when working out on the elliptical. She constantly fell, unable to explain why it was and fearing the worst.

“I couldn’t figure it out after going through orthopedic appointments,” Gina said. “Then they send you to a neurologist, and the neurologist does your spinal tap and told me, ‘yup, you have MS.’”

MS is multiple sclerosis, and according to The National MS Society, “MS is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease.”

Keep Charging Forward

Gina wasn’t exactly deterred when she got her diagnosis, though. In the time since, she’s given birth to a son and a daughter, and she knows that the best way to combat the symptoms of MS is to constantly stay active.

“There are certain ways of controlling things over time,” Gina explained. “You learn that after being diagnosed. You start to study it and understand how your body works, and for each person, it’s so different.... The idea is that you have to keep your body moving, and I’ve found that that’s my No. 1 thing. If you don’t keep moving - and that’s for everyone, but it’s a million times worse for somebody with MS - getting back up from being down so low gets so much harder.”

It’s that mentality that makes Gina the perfect fit to lead the YMCA’s first TRX class for people with MS. TRX for MS takes place every Saturday from noon to 1 p.m. at the West Chester Area YMCA on Airport Road in West Chester. The class is a slow, low-impact class that helps build strength and stamina for MS patients. Space is limited to eight people. Click here for more information.

Why TRX for MS?

TRX is a suspension-based workout that allows participants to work their body in unconventional methods, which in turn keeps the body guessing during workouts. It can seem daunting at first, but Gina swears by it, particularly as a safe and effective alternative to weight-bearing exercises.

“That’s the thing with TRX: it’s a safer way of building muscle. It’s using your own body weight,” Gina detailed. “It’s safer and you just feel more confident in your surroundings. You don’t feel like you’re going to drop a heavy weight. You’re holding on to these straps and they’re going to keep you there. You’re not going anywhere. It’s the security of having something that’s going to help you with your balance, but also work those muscles and maybe take a little bit of weight off of you, especially for beginners who aren’t familiar with those muscles.”

Being afflicted by MS means that Gina has a better idea than anyone else of what can serve as an effective workout for her fellow MS patients. Her class focuses on small movements because fatigue is a major symptom for MS patients, and, as she puts it, “mental fatigue causes physical fatigue, and I don’t want it to be a workout where people feel fatigued.” There’s an emphasis on quality of repetition over its quantity.

Finding a Cure

Of course, Gina is also a huge advocate of MS awareness, particularly as scientists continue to work to develop a cure.

“I’ve heard of people that have taken their lives and there’s a high suicide rate for people with MS,” Gina said. “My thing is that if you can get your mind in check, everything will follow. Keep your mind positive. Stay on top of it and keep moving. Work in small increments. Don’t worry about any more than these next 20 minutes. ‘What do I have to do for the next 20 minutes? I’m going to worry about that first. I try to teach people that that’s the way you have to attack your day.”

“Really deep down inside, I have a hope for a cure,” Gina continued. “I really, really feel like it’s getting closer and closer, and I think it’s going to happen before this life is done.”

Interested in TRX for MS? Click here to register.