From a young age, Ani Williamson had always been interested in sports; she played badminton since she was 8 and she had always been very active.
Ani’s life suddenly changed in 2012, when she caught a whooping cough that destroyed her lungs. When she was admitted into the hospital, her oxygen levels were “in the 80’s” (80%), which meant they were way below the normal percentage (https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diagnostics/22447-blood-oxygen- level#:~:text=For%20most%20people%2C%20a%20normal,know%20what%20l
evels%20are%20acceptable.), that should be above 95%. In other words, she could barely breathe.
In addition to that, she needed to receive treatment with cortisol, antibiotics and other medication that caused her to gain weight. She had trouble breathing, sleeping and talking, and spent nine years looking for ways to improve her lung function.
“My body was hyperventilating all the time because that was the only way I could get O2 into my body.”
Ani´s whole life had changed, the most essential everyday tasks became difficult and from being a very active sportswoman, she could not even run for ten seconds.
“I felt I had no hope. Then I found Airofit.”
A mental health journey
This situation was very frustrating for Ani. She was unhappy and consistently exhausted. Imagine how it must feel to live with a brain that lacks oxygen and sends signals to your body of being in a constant state of alert – it’s like feeling in panic mode all the time!
“So you live permanently in that state of anxiety…everything became fight or flight.”
In anything she was doing, she had to think of the breathing first. She was aware of her breathing “every minute of every day”. As a result, she lost the ability to be focused, to be present and lacked the energy to enjoy daily activities that made her happy before.
The harm to her lungs meant she could no longer do the sports she loved. But it also meant her entire life needed to be paused. When even talking is a constant struggle, then you slowly start losing your inner voice, the ability to express yourself, you start losing your essence and with it, you no longer feel like yourself.
Then, her body started changing. The same medication that made her gain weight, made it difficult for her to lose those extra pounds. Her physical appearance changed so much that she could no longer recognize the person in front of the mirror. Once in the body of a fit sportswoman, Ani found herself trapped in the frame of a woman that she did not know. With this, her mental health took a big hit.
“As you know from being an athlete… I felt like I was in this fat suit.”
So, after living with a decreased lung function for several years, after living a life that did not feel like her own, after “simply existing, being aware of every breath”, in May 2021 she found
Reeducating her breathing with Airofit
“It is a door to a world that has opened to me that has been amazing.”
When Ani discovered Airofit, she thought that it was just like every other respiratory trainer, just as simple as breathing under pressure. However, once she started training with Airofit’s customized breathing plan, she soon noticed remarkable progress. After following the recommended breathing exercises in the app, she started recovering her lung function.. Her oxygen levels went back to normal (reached 98%-100%); she could feel she had more energy, and she could talk at a normal rate again!
“Following all of the Airofit ‘Recommended Sessions’ (Circle, Square, Diamond, etc.) and undertaking the Running Programme my lungs began to improve.”
Airofit truly made a difference, it was the one thing that taught her how to breathe the right way in order to have control; from doing the exercises on the Airofit app she learned that she was not even using her diaphragm (an essential respiratory muscle) for breathing.
“I rapidly recovered diaphragm breathing and controlled breathing, and then magic happened. It is not just breathing under resistance; it completely re-educates your breathing… it’s amazing”
Controlling the “brain chimp”
More than that, respiratory muscle training has allowed Ani to slow down her thinking. The excitatory part of her brain (which she calls the “brain chimp”) was constantly being agitated, causing her body to be in a permanent state of activity. Essentially, she could never relax nor be at ease. From training with Airofit, she was able to regain control of that “chimp” and remember what relaxing actually felt like.
“And that’s what I loved about Airofit being connected to an app rather than it just being resistance breathing… which a lot of people think it is but it isn’t. Because it FORCES you to slow down, to learn the correct areas of your lung to breathe into.”
Controlling the “brain chimp”
What is more, along with her improved lung function came better quality of sleep.
“My husband would tell me that the sound of my breathing at night would terrify him.”
Now, after training her respiratory muscles and being able to experience a good night’s sleep again, she even wonders what Airofit could do for those who suffer from sleep apnea.
So, as she recalls the struggles of the past nine years, Ani emphasizes on her mental health journey, one that she is “ still going through and it is ONLY because of Airofit”. She has even started running, and with it, she has regained the fitness that she had always had.
“I’ve run 1 km – only 1 km, which sounds like nothing but to me it was like I’d completed an Ironman after my 9 years of hell.”
To put it simply, Ani can feel her whole body working again. She has started to regain her confidence and she can feel like herself once more.
“You have given me hope that it is possible to improve, strengthen my lungs, and get back the life I had.”