perspectives - december 2018
Fighter-Opera singer opens up about her journey
Lauren Curet, from New York City, is a lyric soprano Opera singer by day, and a Krav Maga fighter by night. The past few years have not been easy for her, and she has had to overcome numerous obstacles that come her way.
However, each of these experiences have only made her stronger. Below, she tells us about her experiences and the highlights over her year, as well as advice for other athletes.
Lauren is also a Soul-Cycle enthusiast, and part of the New York Road Runners; a non-profit running organization based in New York City whose mission is to help and inspire people through running.
FOLLOW HER ON IG: @thefightingsoprano
ATHLETE: LAUREN CURET
On January 23rd, 2018 I had my ACL reconstructed after I tore it in a freak Krav Maga accident. [Note: Krav Maga is a military self-defence and fighting system developed for the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli security forces] At the time, it felt like it was the end of the world. I was absolutely devastated when my orthopedic doctor told me that it would take an entire year for me to recover. Before my injury, I spent 2-3 hours a day exercising. In fact, I was only a few days away from moving up in ranks at my Krav Maga gym. I felt so alone because nobody knew how much training truly meant to me. Three years ago, I was brutally raped by an emotionally abusive ex-boyfriend. This traumatic event kickstarted my journey to get healthier and learn how to defend myself. In this process, I lost 50lbs and gained a mountain of self-confidence. Getting injured made me feel weak and scared. I became terrified that I was going to be raped again. I’m happy to report that these feelings went away and I grew stronger than I was before.
The first three months post operation showed me how strong I was mentally, physically, and emotionally. Because of the horrible scar tissue build up, my recovery felt longer than it should have been. In fact, it took 3 months of my physical therapist’s graston technique sessions and weighted leg lifts before I was able to walk without crutches or my brace. It also took 3 months for me to regain full range of motion in my leg. Honestly, those three months were the hardest three months of my life. The only person I connected with was my physical therapist, Matt. I remember seeing him for the first time and thinking “This man is going to change my life.”
Physical Therapy quickly became my favorite part of the week. I felt like I was a part of a family because everyone there knew exactly what I was feeling. It gave me people to talk to. Most people in my daily life told me to “just be patient” whenever I asked for advice. Matt helped me plan a healthy return to sports. I remember that one guy that I was seeing at the time frequently called me an “invalid” so that I would depend on him more. Meanwhile, Matt constantly told me that I was strong and an inspiration to the people around me. Physical Therapy was also my favorite part of the week because every session had a new breakthrough that made me feel like I was getting closer to my goal. Plus, it was always fun getting to know the other patients and asking them what happened to them and hearing the stories of how they got injured.
Outside of being an athlete, I’m also an opera singer. This recovery was important because this past summer I performed my first leading lady in Novafeltria, Italy. In this role, I needed to be able to skip, run, and most importantly, kneel before June. I almost turned down the offer because I was afraid that I was going to lose all my progress and go back to where I started but Matt gave me his blessing and prepared me for the two months, I would have without him. While I was in Italy, I upped my exercise reps and taught myself how to jog on a cobblestone path. I started with a 20-minute mile. Now I’m running 5K races in under 40 minutes. I also kept a long email chain with Matt. He was almost like a proud dad in his responses. He gave me tips in my running stride and got the costume department to give me knee pads for my performance. When I returned, I was actually stronger than I was before.
Now, eleven months later. I have completed two 5K races and I’m back at my Krav Maga gym. The journey hasn’t felt as long as I thought it would. There were many moments where I wanted to give up. I spent many nights in my first three months crying myself to sleep. However, if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I am much more motivated now! Every workout I do at the gym is more meaningful because of what I went through. I treat exercise like a gift and I actually appreciate my body. Also, I could do things that I was never able to do before like single legged squats. I’ve grown patient with myself. I learned how to not compare myself to others and love myself. How many people in my life are able to say that they went through the challenge that I’ve been through? The fact that I was able to learn how to walk again, how to jump again, and how to be my own superhero is amazing. I’m thrilled with the progress that I’ve made.
The one advice that I would give to people who are struggling with this is that even when it seems rough, remember where you started. Every time I felt like I wasn’t progressing or I was growing impatient with myself, I remembered where I began my journey (not being able to walk to the bathroom without being in serious pain). Also, try to find a hobby, if exercise was your main hobby then invest in some arm weights. I worked a lot on my upper body because I wasn’t able to do anything but sit or lie down for a while. If you’re a college student like me, take advantage of your school’s mental health facility. I didn’t start seeing a therapist until I got injured and I wouldn’t have been so positive on my journey if it wasn’t for my weekly sessions. I would also say not to think about who you used to be. I spent hours thinking about how strong and heroic I was before my injury. Instead, I should’ve thought about how powerful I’ve become and how much more powerful I will be in a few months from now. Be patient with yourself and trust your physical therapist. They know what they’re doing. I promise you. I does get better.
Thank you Lauren for sharing your story to inspire athletes across the globe!