Usually clients come to our sessions listing a colorful array of bodily ills, complaining of pains, or sharing a guilt-induced confession they did little to no exercise since the week before. Occasionally, a client will offer a passing comment that helps to justify the work we’ve done together. Today my 72-year old client happened to mention that, while at his weekend home by the beach, he didn’t get knocked over by the ocean waves once. This was very gratifying to hear, especially as his wife emphasized that “he went in the water 3 times and never lost his balance.” She continued, “I usually have to keep my eye on him because once, when I was talking to someone by our beach chairs, I turned around and saw Frank lying on his back by the shore unable to get himself up.”
After having worked with Frank for the last year and a half, I have seen dramatic changes in the way that he moves. He truly walked, stood, and moved like an old man when I first met him. This is someone who never really exercised in his life and had found the idea of the gym unappealing. He did join one and even tried a trainer for awhile but it didn’t stick. Eventually, Frank’s wife—also my client—nagged him for several months to try working with me. He admits that he “had doubts” when we first started and wasn’t all that crazy about the feeling of his heart pounding in his throat.
However, I have to give Frank credit, because he has stuck with it and his entire movement repertoire has changed. Before we started training, getting up from the ground was almost impossible—he didn’t have the pre-requisite strength, balance, or flexibility. After having given him those tools and a dependable strategy, Frank nails it almost every time without losing his balance. In addition, he moves more quickly when walking, can pick things up from the ground without pausing and saying “oh God,” and he’s lost so many inches off of his waist that his workout shorts routinely fall down (even with a belt!).
These client success stories, of increased function and improved ability to interact with the world, nourish and inspire me to continue working. I hope they understand how big of an achievement the “small” things are. The goal of training isn’t just about getting sculpted abs and chiseled arms but to be able to rely on oneself to solve movement challenges. When clients feel greater confidence in their abilities and see the results in real-world situations, like Frank at the beach, they usually want to train harder: a self-perpetuating cycle. The trick is getting them to stick with it long enough for the cycle to fulfill its natural, delicious course.
Keep on Movin’