If you could look at yourself 1 year from now, there is a very small chance that is actually what life will be like.
I know that is the case for Brenda Geates. Nearly every time I see her for our personal training sessions, it starts of with her saying, "Look at my mobility! I can put my arms all the way over my head. NO Pain," with a giant glimmer on face.
With her newfound health she finds much more energy to accomplish many tasks throughout her day. After long days of hard labor on her property in Falkland, she rarely gets sore and is not nearly as tired or exhausted.
"Overall, it's making me feel younger. It's making me happier."
I highly encourage you to take a few minutes to watch her success story video and if so intrigued, read on for a more detailed look at her journey written below.
How it Began
For years, Brenda had been struggling with a lot of pain. Originating from a car accident when a large deer forced her car to a dead stop giving her incredible whiplash, coupled with years of over using her hands and shoulders with piano, cleaning and painting. She had constant numbness running through her arms and fingers, severe trigger finger which would not allow her to fully clench a fist and the general effects of aging and becoming de-conditioned. In March of 2016 one of Brenda's piano students who had enrolled in our Youth Program enthusiastically referred her to our gym. "You HAVE to just try it," she kept on telling her. And try it she did. On a whim, with only minutes to spare on her lunch break Brenda drove across town to speak with me and set up an initial consultation and assessment.
"Nothing else has worked, so I guess I'll give it a shot," she remembers thinking.
She had been a client of many different practitioners to try and relieve her symptoms of whiplash, trigger finger, some frozen shoulder and poor mobility as well. They would provide some temporary relief but nothing that gave long term improvement. This was the first time she was going to try something like this - a program encompassing flexibility, strength, coordination and endurance to name a few. I'm sure at this point she didn't have much intention of sticking around for this long, but she was willing to try.
Many people who enroll in a fitness program feel that as long as they do what they need to while they're at the gym, it's good enough. The reality is though, if you're only dedicating 2 hours per week of 56+ available hours, you're likely not doing yourself justice.
In the beginning and along her journey to health and wellness I would always send 'homework' with her after our sessions including some stretching and simple bodyweight exercises to increase that small two hours to something slightly more substantial. As with most clients at this stage, the homework gets done the first few times but then it gets forgotten and put off to the side. When Brenda did her homework over the weekends, that is when she felt GREAT coming in for our session together on Monday. When she missed it and didn't do any stretching, that is when we would spend our entire hour together on stretching, mobility and very simple movements - ones that didn't hurt.
With ups and downs in her progress she had an epiphany near the end of 2016. It happened one day as we had a deep discussion about what she needs to do to constantly improve. The general outcome of the conversation was, 'You need to not just stretch for 5 minutes a couple times a week at home. You NEED to stretch at least 10-15 minutes EVERY DAY at home.' I wrote her a document which listed all of the stretches and movements she could do at home that would help her improve and had her pick certain ones for each day.
The changes were incredible.
The New Leaf
As most people do, Brenda had a lot of time away and with family and company of the holiday season and New Years. But once the new year struck in, it was a whole new Brenda. She had gotten a taste of what this new freedom and range of motion in her shoulders was and desperately wanted to continue along this path.
Along with being VERY diligent in her stretching, mobilizing and homework, she also incorporated some diet and nutrition improvements. She thought as most people do, "My diet is pretty good!" But there were holes that needed to be addressed (and some are still in that process). Two of the largest changes she made were NO soda drinks and trying to increase her daily protein intake.
Having a full house and busy mornings, breakfast was always a struggle and sometimes would come to a 9:30am workout session having only a glass of water, maybe a banana. This was not okay. We talked about ways to get a fast balanced breakfast and came to the conclusion of a morning smoothie with a protein powder supplement. This is her saving grace and she does this every morning! Not only is it a great way for her to start the day nutritionally, but she really enjoys it too.
Back to the new freedom and range of motion.
As Brenda started becoming more and more consistent not only in her attendance at the gym but also with her homework and at home stretching every night (or whenever she felt she needed it) I witnessed some nearly unimaginable changes. One of the first times we performed supported bench dips, she was nearly brought to tears by the pain this movement caused her - we obviously did not continue doing this and found a suitable progression and mobility drills. She can now perform sets of 10 reps with NO PAIN. Incredible. Not to mention performing a Turkish Get-Up with a 15 pound kettlebell in the recent months - pretty impressive from someone who once had frozen shoulder, a weak squat and assisted sit-ups.
With these improvements, Brenda has been able to attend regular group classes with the rest of our members for sometime now with minimal need for movement substitutions or progressions. She continues to see me for one personal training session per week to keep her moving in the right direction. Her dedication this year has been fantastic and is a great client to work with, always a smile on her face!
I'll still never forget the look of excitement on your face after you did your first air squat, which quickly got turned around when I asked for set of 10 repetitions!