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‘Whole trajectory of my life has changed’ – Afton woman faces down illness, finds self in life-stream fitness class in NYC.

Lisa setting up her bike before class started

By Julie Dockstader Heaps, SVI Media

Eight years ago, facing a devastating diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, Lisa Linford took it the proverbial “one-step-at-a-time.” Or in her case, one “pedal” at a time. Hopping on an exercise bicycle with the attitude “you can only focus on what’s right in front of you,” Linford pedaled herself to stability, even health.

In fact — in essence — she pedaled herself to the Big Apple.

On Feb. 4, less than a decade after the long-term neurological disorder took her ability to balance, write or even walk, the 43-year-old Afton resident found herself on the seat of a Peloton exercise bike at the bicycle maker’s studio in New York City for a live-streaming fitness class.

The only way Linford could describe her dream-come-true was “surreal.”


“I remember looking around and thinking, ‘I cannot believe I’m here.’ Never in a million years did I think I’d be in a live class streamed to a bunch of people.”

Linford’s family probably would not have thought this possible, as well. In 2016, while she was pregnant with her youngest, she received her diagnosis. At the time, she was unable to care for herself, let alone a newborn.

A few days ago, SVI Media spoke with Linford about her journey from weeks of tests, a brain biopsy and treatments at the University of Utah Hospital to her light at the end of the tunnel — the Peloton studio in New York City. She has sage advice for anyone facing unexpected trials.

“When life knocks you down, you get up. You brush yourself off. Never give up!”

It’s counsel by which she prays her children abide. “You do what you can do. Then you move on.”

However, in those early days, “moving on” didn’t seem to be in the cards. The woman who loved movement and activity lost her balance. She couldn’t walk let alone keep up with her beloved group fitness classes. She was — in her own words — “devastated.”

“The life I had known, I couldn’t do anymore,” she told SVI, her voice breaking with emotion. “All through high school, through college, I’d been into group fitness classes and running and things like that. Obviously, I couldn’t do that stuff anymore. I was just devastated.”

She couldn’t even cut a slice of bread in occupational therapy. “I remember thinking, ‘This is my life? How am I going to raise my family?!’”

Seeing the studio for the first time on Saturday

With the help of her husband, Sam, her parents, Eddie and Pam Hunsaker of Afton, and his parents, Alan and Linda Linford, also of Afton, the mother of four was able to receive infusion treatments while caring for their children: Josie, now 18; Will, 15; Drew, 11; and Addie, 8. The youngest was born in the middle of Linford’s early testing and treatments.

And although the chemotherapy treatments helped stabilize her illness, there were side effects, including heart palpitations. “I would feel tired the next day after receiving it.”

She was so weak she needed a walker or her husband’s arm to get around.

Then one day, several years ago, she and Brian, an orthopedic surgeon with Mountain West Orthopedics, saw a commercial for a Peloton upright bike with live-streaming fitness classes.

“He said, ‘Let’s get one.’ I was like, ‘Okay, let’s get it.’ But inside, this was just going to be ‘another thing I can’t do. I’m going to be disappointed.’”

Then the bike came. “You have special shoes that clip onto the pedals. My feet clipped on. There was a seat and handlebars to hold onto. I could do it! It was amazing! I can do this! [It was] liberating. I’m sure I broke out with a smile.”

What’s more, a new medication resolved some of the treatments’ side effects and has stabilized Linford’s condition.

“As time went on, I got stronger,” Linford recalled, adding that she branched into live-streaming strengthening classes. “I got stronger so I could do more things.”

She even got a workout buddy — Zeus, her dog. “When I go riding the bike, he comes with me and sits on a pillow.”

And you’ll now see Linford out with her orange and white Berna doodle around Afton on walks. “I’m so much stronger. I don’t have to hold onto my husband. I can do up to five miles, and I’m okay.

“It just increased my confidence,” Linford added.

Lisa’s Peloton Live Fitness Class after the streaming in New York City.

Peloton Facebook algorithms were paying attention In January, Linford opened up an email from Peloton saying, “Lisa, we want to invite you to a live, in-person class.”

With emotion, Linford described that moment. “I’m just floored. What! How does this even happen?”

When Sam Linford heard the news, he responded, “You are going.”

So, Sam and Lisa Linford found themselves in New York City for a weekend. What’s more, the class Lisa Linford joined was with her favorite instructor, Ally Love. Upon meeting Love in the studio prior to streaming, Linford told the instructor how “the whole trajectory of my life has changed.”

After the fitness class, there was a group photo. Then each class member received a bracelet — on which was the word “abundance.” That bracelet holds a special place in Linford’s heart.

“Sometimes you’re given trials. Yea, I’d rather not have [multiple sclerosis with lifelong treatments]. It’s interfering with my plans. [But God] is mindful of us. Just hold on. God is in the details. If you can’t see Him in the details, then look a little harder.”

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