Dr. Lynn Green, 50 years old, Cherry Hill, NJ, University Professor
It was just before my 40th birthday that a friend introduced me to Kevin Hensel and the Fit-4-Life crew; that was ten years ago. At that time, I had just torn a calf muscle but I showed up anyway, and the work began. To say that Kevin and his colleagues altered my universe would NOT be an overstatement.My results were so great: increased energy, strength, reduced back pain, endurance, weight loss, body tone — that I continued my twice-a-week for years (Disclaimer – Results are not guaranteed and results may vary), through graduate school (could I have ever completed that dissertation without my stress-busting weekly sessions?) and into a new career.
Then, in 2003, my orthopaedic surgeon who had been caring for my scoliosis condition for ten years informed me at a regular check up that my back had curved another four degrees (putting the worst curve at 70 degrees), and that it would be in my best interest to have surgery to correct the condition.
The surgery was massive and would involve, for me, both abdominal and spinal incisions, a six month recovery (before returning to work) and at least a full year or two before returning to more normal activities.
I was devastated. However, my surgeon gave his consent to wait a year so that I could properly prepare for the procedure. During that year, Kevin Hensel whipped my butt into shape. I worked even more intensely than I had ever before. My last workout before the surgery was on a Friday; the operation took place that Monday.
It is beyond my ability to tell you what a difference my body condition made in the recovery period, even the FIRST day after surgery. On that day two, they made me stand up and take a few steps; I thought I was going to split in two, but I did not. Not only did I survive, but given the extreme physical limitations placed upon my torso due to the procedure, the superb strength in my arms and legs kept me one step ahead of the curve. With each successive post-op visit, my physician was quite impressed with my progress. At home, the strength in my extremities enable me to get in and out a chair more easily, climb steps, and do the very necessary walking for the best possible outcome. I was exuberant a year later when I returned to the real world.
Most unfortunately, within two years, I had a freakish fall — just stepping off of a curb! A couple of months after that, I was informed that the two rods had broken and I would need to have another surgery as the bone fusion was not complete.
I thought i was going to lose my mind, and I almost did. The second surgery took place at a very stressful period in my life; I had NOT been keeping up with my training visits and both work and family pressures were at an unusual high. I was NOT physically or emotionally prepared for teh procedure and everything, absolutely every aspect of the recovery, was more difficult.
However, we have a happy ending here thanks to my Fit-4-Life “gurus.” After 18 months of really struggling and believing I would never regain my strength, I returned to Kevin who graciously was willing to take me on as a client once again. That was a year ago. When I began, I could barely lift any weight whatsoever; a push up was impossible (even one), I had terrible balance, no flexibility, and I was easily exhausted. I was sad, depressed, and almost beaten down to the ground.
But I bounced back!
It is now twelve months later and I am cranking out side steps, balance challenges, about 10 pushups and so much more. I have so much more energy and flexibility! Cuts (the good kind!) have returned to my arms and my calves; I can work all around New York City for a day and NOT be in pain. It’s another shot at a normal life for me and I am eternally grateful to Kevin and his colleagues not only for sharing their professional expertise and knowledge, but for their incredible patience, coaching, encouragement, and support, week after week after week. I simply could not have navigated this second recovery without them.
No, I will not be playing tennis or rock climbing or a whole host of other activities. However, 18 months ago when my husband and I were on vacation, I did not even have the ability to go on a gentle snorkeling adventure; my legs were cramping and I felt afraid that my arms could not carry me if I needed to swim. I didn’t go through with it.
Last month, we were in St. Kitts for the first time and, as the photo here reveals, I did it! No one else on that tour boat understood the joy and outright sense of victory I had as I swam around with the fish. Len took this picture of me in the water; I even took off my flippers and climbed the ladder back onto the boat with NO assistance! What a rush.
My scoliosis condition is quite rare, and even fewer people will ever undergo surgery as I did, never mind twice. But the point here is this: no matter what your own personal challenges are to getting fit and living a healthier life, YOU CAN DO THIS. Getting back into gear means making personal sacrifices, tough choices, putting out some time and money, and cultivating perseverance and patience. I can only cheer each of you on and tell you it will be worth it; absolutely, no doubt about it! As I just celebrated my 50th birthday, I am in an entirely new and exciting stage of life, full of hope and in much better health. You’re worth it; you can do it!
One very important note: if you are considering Fit 4 Life as your fitness advisors, please note: they are not all about the glitz and the glam! I avoided other gyms for years because they just did not suit my needs or fit my personality. Fit 4 Life is about helping each and every person find his/her appropriate level of fitness. Losing weight, if you want to or need to, is to me, a positive side effect of working on your physical health. The staff members are down to earth, super supportive, understanding, and encouraging. To me, beyond the technical expertise of these trainers is the truly, truly friendly and come-as-you-are attitude they exude. They will help you get to the best possible place and guide you every step of the way.
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