A personal story about exercising again after surgery.

Exercising After Surgery: One Pelo-Addicted Overachiever’s Story

“Sometimes you have to put other things on hold and take care of yourself.”

Some very annoying but wise words from my surgeon, as I learned that the answer to a challenging medical issue I was facing was surgery that would require six weeks of doing pretty much nothing including a strict weight limit for lifting. For someone who exercises everyday – on the Bike, Tread, mat and my horse – the idea of a six-week break was devastating. 

Still, I did the thing, and six weeks did pass. I finally got the go-ahead to resume physical activity but with a very stern warning to ease back in. So, where to start? 

In this post, I’ll share my first week’s worth of Peloton activities. Disclaimer, because I worked in corporate communications for a long time and disclaimers make me comfortable: I have zero qualifications to make these recommendations. These are simply my experiences. 

Day 1: Walk + Core

Walking was the one thing I was allowed to do during recovery, so this seemed like a safe place to start. I went with a 15-minute 90s walk with Matty Maggiacomo, because Matty’s my dude and the 90s were an interesting, if weird, time for music. I decided ahead of time that I would limit my pace and incline, and programming-wise, this class turned out to be a terrible fit for that because there were tons of hills (Matty described it as “not quite a hike”… but it felt like a hike). Still, it was a fun class, and I was mentally prepared to not follow the programming exactly, so not that big of a deal.

I tried to filter the core workouts to find a beginner-level one and apparently that’s not a thing. I lucked out on the Rad Lopez class I picked though – it was a circuit with 40 seconds of work, 20 seconds of recovery. My core is incredibly weak right now and I definitely needed that recovery time. I was able to do all of the movements (though I happily accepted the modifications) and felt myself improving as the class went on. Gold star for day one!

Day 2: Yoga

My body is hella stiff right now so some yoga was definitely in order. I went for a slow flow (my jam), and fortunately yoga does have beginner levels. This class with Chelsea Jackson Roberts was lovely and a great fit for my current fitness level. I did modify the planks (knees down) but otherwise I felt comfortable with all the movements. 

Day 3: More Yoga

I’ve also been riding my horse again and probably not doing the best at easing back in there because I have FOMO. I got home from a riding lesson (my first since surgery!) and my hip flexors were killing me, so I went straight to the mat for some restorative yoga with Kirra Michel. This class didn’t end up being the best choice for me because I was looking for more stretching and less introspection. So, you know, NOT restorative yoga and that’s on me. I modified to add more hip stretches to the postures, and will likely take this again when I’m in a different headspace because the content was really good. 

Day 4: Walk + Core + Hip Mobility

A 20-minute walk with Matty this time. I considered 30 minutes because I’ve really missed the Walk and Talks, but I knew I’d be happier being able to push myself for 20 minutes than running out of steam on 30. The inclines in this class were a nice challenge because they stayed in the mid-range (9 was the highest). I couldn’t hold the power walks but I briefly reached power walking speed and achieved my Bronze Activity Award Badge, and that felt amazing!

I stuck with a 5-minute core, and I picked a recent class from Rebecca Kennedy instead of filtering by level but honestly it was perfect. It was all crunch variations, and even though there wasn’t much downtime it was all very doable. The butterfly sit ups were the hardest part for me. I loved this class and bookmarked it to do it again. 

I ended today’s stack with a hip mobility class with Adrian Williams. I haven’t done one of these before, and it was amazing! Perfect combo of stretching and strengthening, so I’ll definitely be doing this content on the regular, even after I’m back to my normal fitness levels. 


It sucked to take time off – like, a lot. But the time did pass, and I’m a happier, healthier person for going through the surgery. It’s going to take time to get back where I was before, but I feel stronger everyday so I know it will happen. 

My strategies for success:

  • Shorter classes so I can push harder
  • Lots of stretching! 
  • Mixing it up so I’m not overworking any muscle group

Other Approaches

Our writer Lindsey was also able to speak to this topic – just a few months into being a Peloton runner, she stepped off the Tread after what she says was a “great feeling” workout involving this run – and knew something wasn’t quite right in one knee. It took a while to sort out what was wrong, but the answer resulted in surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Lindsey took a slightly different approach – while she did do some yoga and stretching (“very carefully, with a yoga pillow under my knee!”) she also took advantage of her limitations to try something completely new, and jumped into the Arms with Tunde program, figuring she couldn’t possibly aggravate her knee that way. It was her first foray into Peloton strength… and for her, being limited in what she could do and trying something different led to finding a silver lining post-surgery.

“I LOVED it. I hadn’t done strength training in a lot of years, and it made me feel like I was accomplishing something even though I was sitting in a chair while I worked out. One of my kids got interested and joined me, and we’ve been lifting together ever since – more than two years now!”

Another of our writers Darci took inspiration from the new moms of Peloton and chronicled her 6-week story.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, hang in there! There are many ways to modify physical fitness activities, and you’re definitely not alone.

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