I belong to a Lifestyles Gym, which is part of the great octopus system of Cleveland Clinic. Since they have added close to adequate handicapped parking, I like it much more. Long ago I wondered why youngsters who came to run miles on an indoor track parked in the front row and let the rest of us struggle from a half mile out.
In addition to belonging to the gym, I use a trainer. Dedicated folks show up and work out. Without a trainer, I wouldn’t do it. No interest, except my clinical one of mentally stepping back and observing “Oh, look, I can do that now!” Walk without falling, for example.
Kristen was my trainer for a year before the skull fracture and a year after. We worked on strength and balance. I cannot put together a description of loss of balance. Slip, don’t fall. That’s balance.
I remember a favorite therapist telling me that walking is butt out, stomach in, shoulders back, chin up, eyes ahead, shift weight from side to side. And her with that three inch belt around me to keep me up. Or the first time I got up on a rocker board and nearly ripped off the therapist’s shirt, in spite of the belt.
And last, synapses. Connecting to the brain I can describe. Years ago my oldest daughter struggled with that beautiful run in Beethoven’s Für Elise. “Practice, practice, practice. Over and over and over. Your fingers and brain become one.” Regaining balance is regaining strength, and the connection to the brain.
Over our two years, Kristen earned her graduate degree in cardiopulmonary rehab, and moved on to a Lifestyles specialist unit. I have a new trainer, Greg. Kris and I were a little lazy toward the end. I don’t have Greg trained yet. And, he’s young enough to be a grandchild. But, I’ll make it.
Kris was equipment oriented. Greg is prone to calisthenics. He reminds me of calisthenics classes in college, and I could hang from the top bar more than long enough for the instructor to demonstrate keeping arms at right angles, legs parallel to the floor and count down from one hundred, ninety nine, ninety eight…..
|Two thirds the way to the other side|
Both of them walk a lot. It’s a big gym. Kris liked the equipment style on one side and the pull down station a thousand feet away. Back and forth. I teased her she was getting in her steps. Greg likes the half wall on the same side and the pull down station on the other. It’s all the same. Walk, walk, walk. Work, work, work.
Friday is gym day. It was toward the end, and Greg had me doing planks. They’re what they sound like. Hands on something about knee high (I hope never again in my life to do this from the floor!), walk backward until tip toes only between life and death, lean on bent arms and become a plank, as in board.
One minute, walk back up, rest, repeat. Sets of three. On the third one Greg said “Just go until you burn out.” I was so startled I nearly lost it, and did stand up. “Burn out means until you can’t do it anymore.”