On November 9, 2014 my life changed forever. I intended to go visit a friend for the evening, but plans were pushed back several times due to different circumstances. My friend and I ended up watching a later movie than initially planned. The movie turned out to be three hours long, which put me on the road at one of the most dangerous times of the night. At approximately 1:29 am, I was struck head-on by a wrong-way drunk driver traveling the wrong way on the expressway. Immediately, my spine shattered- I had two burst fractures at L5 and S4 of my spine—severely compressed nerves, several broken bones, damaged organs and muscles, a severed iliac artery and a concussion. I was paralyzed from the waist down and the doctors did not know if I would walk again or what my recovery would be like. It has been 3 1/2 years of multiple surgeries—eight in total—to repair the damage to my spine and abdomen. I spent 68 days in the hospital, including the rehab hospital, and another two years subsequently in outpatient rehab learning how to walk again and alternatively use the bathroom.
The following year and a half, I focused on being a new wife and I joined my husband at the gym since we both love to be active.Going to the gym was something I had always loved to do. As a prior Group X instructor and personal trainer throughout college and beyond, I prided myself on my strength and fitness knowledge. To think that working out in the same way and doing normal things such as squats and lunges was something I may have lost completely broke my heart. But because of great medical care, a lot of faith, and a great support system, my surgeons told me time and time again that I have beat the odds. Don’t get me wrong, I still have all of the same issues as paraplegics- as that is my official diagnosis—I can just walk. My gait is not normal, but to an untrained eye, it looks pretty good. While my recovery may never be complete, and I may never be who I once was, or have the strength in my lower half that I once did, I have learned to adapt. I still struggle with pretty weak calves due to nerve damage. The calves control all movement of the feet making balance hard and orthotics necessary.
Finding a gym where I could feel comfortable despite my newfound disability and limitations was key. Working out at Four Seasons has given me a lot of hope. I have been able to attend several of the classes and focus on what I am able to physically do—which turns out to be a LOT. I love the group fitness class setting and I am over the moon grateful to be able to participate again. Other participants may notice me sometimes holding onto the wall or the structure beam in the room to balance. Going to classes gives a lot of opportunity to interact with others and workout to an already-formed workout routine to fun music. Because of my fitness background, I am able to modify exercises as necessary and all of the instructors have been very accepting of this. I also love the teaching style of the instructors as they are upbeat, understanding of current fitness trends, and make sure to focus on a lot of safety cues, which keep participants like myself and others safe.
The Four Seasons location closer to where my husband and I now live also has a pool. I have just discovered how much I love swimming for sport, and how free I feel in a pool. In the pool, my limitations feel less burdensome somehow. I’ve always considered myself a “fish” and having a pool, which is really good for my body and easy on my joints and back, has been super helpful. I hope to join a swim team soon and I plan on using the Four Seasons gym to train. This gives me a goal. while keeping me fit at the same time. Four Seasons is overall a great gym with plenty of space, different kinds of fitness equipment and group classes. I consider comfortability in a gym super high on my priorities list when deciding on a place to work out, and I feel extremely comfortable here. There is a great mix of all kinds of people, which makes it more of a win in my book!