Sherise Dreyer, 32, has osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease.
A lack of calcium in her body mean her bones could snap and shatter easily, making all physical activity unsafe – particularly anything that puts her in danger of taking a tumble.
But despite advice from doctors and strangers, Sherise risks her life to be extremely active, doing rockclimbing, running, yoga, and aerial silks.
Yep, aerial silks. The exercise in which you hang from the ceiling and could quite easily slip, fall, and – in Sherise’s case – shatter all the bones in your body.
It’s not the safest choice, but Sherise isn’t bothered. She loves a challenge, and her doctors are amazed by not only her determination but her physical strength, which she describes as ‘not normal’.
Sherise has brittle bone disease, which means her bones can easily break and shatter (Picture: Sherise Dreyer/Metro.co.uk)‘I’m stronger than anyone I have ever met with my type [of osteogenesis imperfecta],’ Sherise tells Metro.co.uk. ‘As I got older, I have gained strength. My calcium levels increased and I haven’t had a fracture in years.’
Sherise has always been active.
Years ago she was a dancer, doing contemporary, ballroom and Latin styles, but quit to focus on academics and her career in marketing.
A sedentary job left her restless and worrying about her fitness and general health. Sherise joined the gym, but it wasn’t for her. Then she tried stretching classes, which she enjoyed, which led her to aerial silks.
Most people think Sherise shouldn’t be doing aerial silks, but she loves it (Picture: Sherise Dreyer/Metro.co.uk)Aerial silks is an activity that’s tricky in itself, but Sherise’s disability adds further challenge.
Sherise, who uses a wheelchair, has shorter arms that make it difficult to reach up the silks. Immense strength is required to pull yourself up using just your arms, which she’s built over time.
Plus, she absolutely cannot fall.
‘Taking into account the nature of my disabilty I must also be extra careful; falling is not an option at all,’ Sherise explains. ‘Most people argue I shouldn’t be doing silks at all.’
But Sherise loves a challenge. She refused to give up.
Falling is ‘not an option’ as Sherise risks serious damage (Picture: Sherise Dreyer/Metro.co.uk)‘Initially, I couldn’t pull myself up at all,’ she says. ‘I thought to myself: how could this even be possible?
‘I severely underestimated the level of strength and fitness that is required to do silks.
‘There is an extreme sense of accomplishment when I master what other people regard as being the basics — knowing that I have overcome a personal challenge or obstacle.
‘I thrive on challenges.’
She’s always been confident in her body and loves a challenge (Picture: Sherise Dreyer/Metro.co.uk)Sherise has always been confident in her body, but doing aerial silks has strengthened not only her body, but her relationship with it.
‘I am very comfortable in my skin,’ says Sherise. ‘My arms and legs are stronger; so now I manage to pull myself up into my car faster. Since I am short it is a climbing mission to reach anything.
‘[Doing aerial silks has given me] muscle, muscle and more muscle… my biceps are popping like never before.’
Sherise has fallen in love with aerial silks and has no plans to stop. (Picture: Sherise Dreyer/Metro.co.uk)The mental benefits of exercise are huge, too, and Sherise shares her aerial workouts online to show people how much joy can be found in getting active.
‘When life gets too much mentally training, dancing and being active is a sense of relief and helps ground me,’ says Sherise. ‘Physically I am far fitter and more active than anyone I know with my type.
‘I’m always trying some new fitness challenge, even if it’s just once.’
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