Former professional dancer and television personality Mary Murphy is best known for judging So You Think You Can Dance. But in 2010, she hid a secret from the world: the ballroom dance champion had trouble moving because of intense joint discomfort. But she’s since turned that all around and now holds the Guinness World Record for the largest merengue lesson. She opened up to FirstforWomen.com about her joint stiffness, the product that helped her, and the steps she recommends to others facing similar issues.
I’d always been a mover, even as a kid. They’d call me “Jackrabbit.” I always had so much energy, running everywhere. I’d been dancing my whole life.
But I didn’t realize along the way, sitting down in the chair for So You Think You Can Dance, that all of a sudden, I’d be in a position where I was no longer moving. For the first time in my life, I started having real joint discomfort.
It was about six years ago. I was doing two shows at one time, So You Think You Can Dance and So You Think You Can Dance Canada, and taking red eyes back and forth. And it was all this sitting. It was the airplane. Sitting in the airport. Sitting at the audition. It’s kind of ironic, isn’t it? I had to dance my whole life, my whole career, to get to the point where I could sit down in front of a fabulous dance show. Little did I know, it really gets to your joints.
It was the hip joint from sitting so much. And also my knees. My shoulders. My wrists. My ankles. My feet. Pretty much all over my body. It’s stiffness when you have to get up in the morning. You’re kind of doubled over a little bit. It’s like a funny movie where you have to slowly crank yourself up. What I didn’t realize about myself until it hit me in my 50s is you never think about that. Then all of a sudden, you have joint discomfort.
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I never thought that would happen to me because I kept moving all the time, up until television hit me. Then, going into an audition and sitting there for 18 hours, I realized, wow, this is stopping me from doing things that I like to do–mainly, continuing to dance, even though I’m not dancing professionally anymore. But I want to keep moving.
I just know that that it’s important for everybody’s life, if they want to keep doing the things they love to do, they’ve got to keep moving. And then you’ll find out you’re happy. And that’s going to transfer into everything about your life. Your relationships. The way you look at yourself. Your self esteem. Your general mood.
Nobody likes to admit that you’re getting older. It’s hard. It starts to come every day and you realize, Oh, I need to do more about this. I was happy to find a product that worked. As soon as I started having joint discomfort, I immediately went and started using Osteo Bi-Flex. I just take the supplement every morning with my breakfast. That’s been helping.
Now today, I can get up. I just pop right out of bed. I don’t even stretch. I just get up and go now. And keep moving. No product by itself is a miracle worker. Chill out too much for a weekend, and it can creep up on you. A lot of people experience it, but when you start moving, you feel so much better. All I have to do is get moving, get back on my supplement, and then the joint stiffness goes away.
Anyone that’s experiencing any kind of joint discomfort, I’m the first to recommend seeing a doctor. There can be many different reasons why someone’s experiencing the things that they feel. It’s different for all of us.
When you’re going through health issues, you just want to shut it down. And actually, you have to try different kinds of activities. Someone just started hula hoop in my studio. Walking is a great exercise. Look for things that are low impact on your body and joint health, like merengue.
It’s one of the easiest dances–everybody can merengue. If you can walk, you can merengue. In fact, I just led the largest group merengue class, for people of all ages and shapes, in the old part of Las Vegas.
I was up on the stage and it gave me a special kind of excitement to look over a crowd like that. There were a lot of people that might have had their very first step, and for me that’s really special. It certainly put a smile on my face that people tried something new. And I hope they were happy that they could all do it because everybody could.
I just want to show people that it doesn’t have to be hard. You’re made to move. We’re all made to move.