What Does a Personal Trainer Do When She Can't Train?
For starters, she prepares her mind for the battle to recovery! I finally had reconstructive ACL surgery, with the doctor also scoping my knee to remove as much of the torn meniscus as was possible. For the new ACL, he used a graft from my hamstring. During our initial consultation about the surgery, he gave me 3 options:
1. Do nothing and continue to live with it. After he explained what he would do in the surgery, I seriously considered this as a good option! But, since my knee had started popping out at the most inopportune times (as if there's EVER a good time), and was becoming harder to adjust after popping out, I decided to bite the bullet.
2. The meniscus was completely torn and shredded and he could just do a scope and clean out the joint. He said this was what was causing pain and that he could see the beginning of arthritis. The fact is - I didn't have pain in my knee! This injury happened in 2006 and has never really caused pain, except for the initial injury and the few times it has popped out and I haven't been able to adjust it back in place immediately, due to the swelling this caused.
3. He could reconstruct the ACL by using a graft from my hamstring tendon, drill 2 attachment holes in my leg bones and scope the knee at the same time. I chose this option though I admit, I was scared. I hate needles, and I wasn't keen on his estimate for recovery: 4 - 6 months. In my mind, I turned it into 2 - 3 months.
Of course, I will follow his directions and not go beyond what is acceptable, i.e., I will not engage in running, plyometrics, power lifting or challenge myself to a snowboard run down the Ice Plex. Duh! But, I will be aggressive with the prescribed therapy and push myself to train through the pain of tight and weakened muscles. I will not back off when it starts to hurt.
I thought about what inspired me to begin weight training way back in 1976 - Rachel McLish, Stacey Bentley, Lisa Lyons and the man behind them, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Even the penultimate Mr. Olympia has had to fight back to health after open heart surgery in 2018. After all these years, I still find him to be a great source of inspiration when it comes to fitness and I hope you'll click the link above and listen to his speech. His mental attitude truly makes him a champion - regardless of what you may think of his politics, etc. - his mindset is that of a winner!
During my pre-surgical consultation, the doctor also recommended that I stop engaging in heavy weight training for legs so I put together a circuit of exercises that would challenge me cardiovascularly while also using primarily body weight for leg training. However, knowing that he was going to pull from my hamstrings for the new ACL, I increased my weight consistently on leg curl and dead lift and kept up my single-leg dead lift with kettle bells, with the goal of being able to balance solidly while keeping my back flat and not letting the KB touch the floor at the end of the move. This took some work but I got there and was ready to increase the KB weight but it was time for surgery so that was it. I used this routine 2X/week over a 5-week period. I know I will be starting all over again and that it may be another 30 days before I can begin with even the lightest weights. I will be back in the gym next week training upper body and may have to reduce weights for that as well but I am keeping my spirit positive, as I know that the body is so incredibly resilient. And, when you have a strong, focused mind, it's just a matter of time back to full fitness. I am setting a goal of competition in November of this year - after all, it would be a shame to have only used my lovely comp bikini once! And as I will be turning 59 this year, the window of opportunity continues to shrink. This video link shows a portion of the routine that I used to prep for surgery. I aimed for 10 - 15 reps and 3X through each exercise with no rest between sets:
*There is an error in what I say during the upright row exercise: it is meant to be "Elbows should be parallel to the floor at the finish (not perpendicular)." Also, my form is terribly sloppy on the one-leg KB dead lift shown above in the still. After doing this for several weeks, my form did become spot-on and without the cheat at the bottom of letting the KB touch the floor!
A trainer also finds inspiration for her fitness through others that she helps and I have several people I am coaching currently - with training, with posing prep for competition and with mental focus. I am constantly amazed by how community provides support - when the trainer is initially leading the pack, but finds she is being lifted by the power of those she is guiding - through the joy and fulfillment of helping others realize their potential. If 2019 is the year that you have decided will become the turning point for you, maybe this is just what you need. We are not meant to do life's journey alone. There is no shame in asking for help. Search for a trainer or training partner that can bring out the best in you - and you in her/him. Try to find someone who has a positive outlook and sees life as full of possibility and potential, and can keep things in perspective with a positive slant when the going gets tough.