I'm sharing my story because I've been encouraged to, not because I like reliving this in text, but if it helps one person who has had traumatic injury, then it's all worth it.
My life with sports and fitness began over 30 years ago, where in my youth I skied competitively for my school and my town. My event was the giant slalom. For those of you who do not know what that is, the giant slalom is a vertical alpine ski race with a drop of approximately 1000+ ft., with approximately 45-60 gates with at least that many direction changes, done at a speed of approximately 20-25 miles per hour. That's a very simplified description, but you get the idea.
In the winter of 1986, I arrived at the mountain for a morning practice and proceeded to the top of the run with my teammates and waited my turn. Finally, they called me to the gate. The horn sounded and off we went, my teammate and myself. Back then things weren't quite as strict as they are now, with the ever-changing rules and regulations. The course had not been marked off from the public yet, and from what I understand after my 4th gate turn, an out of control, amateur skier came onto the course and broadsided me, both of us going somewhere around 15-20 MPH. It was lights out for both of us. He left the mountain with a broken femur and a couple of broken ribs, I on the other hand left in far worse shape and remembered nothing.
I woke up one week later from a medically induced coma and in traction. I don’t know if they even do the archaic practice of traction anymore but it looks a lot like a huge torture device with pins, cables and cranks! I was completely broken. Starting from the bottom I had a broken ankle, 2 broken knee caps, a torn ACL, a dislocated hip, 5 broken ribs, a punctured lung, a broken collar bone, a broken wrist, a dislocated shoulder, a torn rotator cuff, compression fractures all up and down my spine, a cracked sternum and a massive concussion. It actually could have been a lot worse.
After all was said and done, I was reassembled with titanium plates, pins and screws, did countless hours of rehab and was told my skiing days were over. Not only that but that I would forever be restricted to only very low impact exercise such as steady state casual rowing or swimming because my flexibility and mobility was very static now due to all of the metal in my body and the risk of re-injury would potentially render me handicapped. Needless to say, this made me quite angry and upset and I proceeded to feel sorry for myself for about a year.
I bought into the idea that I now had limits, but then one day my best friend invited me to go skiing with him. He assured me he'd be there to help me and that all I needed to do was regain my confidence. So I did, and it was very rocky and scary but also exciting. We started skiing weekly and then started going back to the gym and I hired a trainer. Even way back then I thought being a trainer seemed like such a fun career path and thought it would be so rewarding helping people reclaim their strength. I continued to train for years on my own and with trainers but knew there was something missing. I was just kind of running around from one thing to another in the gym with no rhyme or reason. I continued to lift, ski and then started rock climbing and did so for about 8 years.
Fast forward to 2012, I met Jon and Emily Alford who introduced me to kettlebell training. Jon was part of the RKC and an awesome instructor. He and Emily were so patient with me and helped me improve my kettlebell skills tremendously! One day Jon said, "I think you are ready to do the SFG." >>>>>>>WHAT???>>>>>>> Oh my gosh that's major and I'm scared! All those old fears of injury and inadequacy came right back, but guess what I did? I registered for the first ever SFG certification! (StrongFirst Girya, in Russian a kettlebell or Girevik, a kettlebell lifter)
It was here that I met the one and only Pavel Tsatsouline as well as David Whitley, Karen Smith, Jason Marshall, Andrea Chang, Mike Sousa and Tracy and Mark Reifkind, all in one place! I mean it's not every day that something like this happens! I proceeded to get my ass handed to me in what was one of the toughest weekends I had ever endured. I learned right there exactly what I was capable of, but also that I had nothing to be scared of because I was learning from and being coached by the best in the world. These people forever changed the course of my life and my strength. For the first time in years, I felt in control of my body and my strength again.
Fast forward another year and enters the game changer for me, Paul McIlroy and The Amazing 12. I made a plan to move to Belfast to train with Paul for 3 months and put myself through his Amazing 12 program. I had been following him and what he was doing in Belfast with his clients for about a year and it was absolutely astounding and I knew I wanted to be part of it. What happened instead was not only AMAZING lol, but life changing. I was invited to attend Paul's first Amazing 12 certification in Ireland. My life since then has escalated to yet another level of excellence that only Paul could create. All of those missing components that I was lacking all those years, finally came together. It is with the Amazing 12 that I have personally not only rehabbed my own strength, dare I say, to an even greater ability than when I was a competitive skier, but I have also delivered and implemented change for hundreds of clients resulting in mind blowing transformations, with this program. During that time in Ireland, Paul so eloquently not only passed on his unbelievable knowledge and expertise in strength building, conditioning and physique transformation, but taught me in depth how to TRAIN AROUND INJURY! BOOM! Every time I'm around him I learn so many valuable nuggets that I carry with me every day in training my own clients and I am eternally grateful for being a coach on Paul's team of worldwide coaches.
I continue to this day to learn from all of these experts and I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to practice and learn under them all. If these people had never been a part of my life I know without a doubt that I would still be spinning my wheels in the gym and hopping from one form of exercise to another and probably doing something very mediocre with no substantial results.
One thing that every single mentor of mine has instilled in me is, consistency is key. Jason Marshall was my first team leader at the SFG and I'm sure he was majorly frustrated with me, but he was so patient and kind, but tough on me and that was something I knew I wanted to emulate. He never gave up on me and I received my SFG certification after a lot of blood, sweat and tears, literally! Jason just kept saying "Don’t stop. Get stronger!" That has resonated with me ever since.
Why am I writing all of this? I am 50 years old now and have spent years honing my strength skills and learning from the best in the world, for you, the person who thinks it's too late, or who thinks that you don't have what it takes or that your too broken to do anything. There are so many people out there who have had traumatic injury and feel that they have no option but to give up and I'm here to tell you, don't stop, get stronger! Don’t ever give up! There is a solution and a way. No matter where you are, seek someone who is experienced and has a depth of knowledge that can help you become the person you were meant to be in the first place, Paul McIlroy's words btw.
One thing that I have got to say though, is that I know without a doubt that it is by the grace of God that I am moving at all. Like I said before, it could have been far worse. One MPH faster, one different direction change and who knows? I'm blessed and I'm thankful.
I am very passionate and compassionate because I've been there with traumatic injury and I know how much it sucks and how aggravating it is. But with just one little movement, one little adjustment, one little step forward in trust, that door to your recovery and strength will open wide.
In all, I have been a strength and conditioning coach for 12+ years and it has been an absolute labor of love coaching hundreds of people in my studio to better themselves through strength and resilience.
If you are looking to reclaim your strength and your power, give me a call me or drop by Pure Strength Studio. Some of the people on this website were where you are right now and they took control and reclaimed their lives and you can too!