Part 8- Work hard. Rehab harder with dumbbells.

For as long as I can remember, I have always been an active and hard working person. I remember my first ballet class when I was three with Miss Gerri, my first Irish dancing class when I was four with Mrs Howe, and my first F45 class with David Saleh (now owner of the massive TWM!). I thrived off discipline and hard work; I never chose hobbies that were easy. I loved training and working towards goals; both personal ones and for my team. I pushed through pain and injuries, I worked hard for my dancing exams and competitions, and I pushed myself in a completely new way at my gym. I follow rules and I never back away from something that I find difficult. Always have, always will be me.

In a not so distant past, I also remember my first personal training session with Brandon after my fall in 2018. It was a whole other world of fear and uncertainty I felt walking out of the gym on this day. In what felt like a split second of my life, all of my hard work and dedication to my sports had just been flushed down the toilet. I had gone from someone who was a confident performer, who danced and trained 5 times a week and who was at the peak of her fitness, to someone who couldn’t even walk for 10 minutes. At this very moment, I couldn’t have been more disappointed in myself. I literally had to pick myself up off the ground, and begin the climb back up again. Lucky for me, I get to share this journey with Brandon :). 

This journey started with soooo much walking practice, and a lot of active wear shopping (obviously not doctor or PT recommended, but whatever heals the heart right?) I’d love to share my exercise rehab journey with you all!! Below are some questions I’ve asked Brandon about my progress and how he’s supported me to get me where I am today in my recovery.

Happy reading!! 🙂 

Tell us a little about your background in PT ?

Hi everyone!

My name is Brandon and I have been a trainer for over 5 years now both independently, through Anytime Fitness, F45 and The West Movement. I have worked with individuals and large classes focusing on specific areas including weight-loss, strength training and strength and conditioning. I obtained both my certificate 3 and 4 in fitness along with an introduction to both Anatomy for Strength and Nutrition. I am also currently studying to obtain my Strength and Conditioning Coach credentials.

Lauren is the first client of mine to have such an intensive rehabilitation program for a brain injury.

When I first came to you after my accident, what were the main symptoms/issues you had to take into consideration when training me?

Unfortunately, it was like starting from scratch again with all of your training. A few major things we had to focus on at the beginning were co-ordination and high levels of balance techniques, along with both muscular strength and endurance. Having seen the way you were training before, with such high intensity and strength, it was really difficult to see you walk into the gym on that first day of training together. You could barely stand on one leg. 

I had to make sure every exercise we completed did not aggravate your dizziness or pain any further, you had plenty of rest between exercises (although we only completed one exercise in our first few sessions together), and you were able to walk out of the gym with some success in order to build back your confidence levels as well.

What were some of the first things you had to do at the beginning of my rehab in order to get me where I am today?

The first thing we had to do was just get you back into the feel of moving your body again, occasionally our sessions would just be riding the bike at a low intensity for 15-20 minutes. We have worked loads on increasing the volume of our workouts each week whilst keeping the rest time as high as possible so we didn’t overload your brain and body. You have come leaps and bounds ahead in those aspects going from a 10min walk to a 30+ minute PT session!!

What are some of the things I still need to work on to get back to where I was? Do you have any future goals for me training wise?

As you know, this kind of recovery isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon, and its really hard work! We are chipping away at all the right things at the moment in our sessions, we just have to work on making small progressions to your endurance levels specifically (when appropriate) each time we train. I think something I’d like to work on next is weekly training volume, whether it be increasing the duration of our sessions or incorporating more training sessions throughout the week to increase our intensity and work on pushing your endurance levels. 

Having helped me for so long throughout my rehab, what would be the biggest piece of advice you might give to someone else in my shoes?

Consistency and persistence is definitely the key!! Yes, you may have numerous set backs along the way, and having worked closely with Lauren over the last two years, I know these set backs will happen. One week you’re powering through, the next we’re back on the bike. It is most importantly how you handle these setbacks mentally, so you can bounce back stronger and better than before, even if it takes you that little bit longer. Sometimes you have to take 1 step back to take 2 steps forward!!!

The brain is bloody amazing, and what exercise can do for our brains is even more amazing! Whether you have experienced head trauma or not, exercise does so much to support brain health. When we take the time to exercise, endorphins are released which can dull sensations of pain, serotonin is released which increases mood and better sleep, and dopamine is released increasing motivation and overall happiness. The brain’s hippocampus (which regulates our motivation, emotions, learning and memory) literally grows in size with regular exercise, all whilst supporting the growth of more connections between brain cells. If you were looking for more reasons to exercise, I think you may have found your motivation!!

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt over my two years of rehab so far, is that nothing happens overnight, as much as I wish it did. Its been two years of hard work to get me to where I am today, and I know I have many years of hard work ahead of me to keep getting better and achieving goals in every aspect of my recovery. It took me months and months to walk without symptoms, it took a year to increase my time in the gym from 10 minutes to 30 minutes three times a week. Baby steps are an absolute killer sometimes to your mental health, and it does get hard to be able to see progress when you are so caught up in rehab EVERY SINGLE DAY!! But working towards small goals each day will not result in failure, it just can’t. So always keep your eye on your end goal, I know I am. I can’t see it yet, but I know my new Jaggad and Lorna Jane outfits will help me get there one day.

Blame me for your active wear shopping, go for a walk, or go pick up some dumbbells. Whatever you plan on doing, do it with some hard work and an end goal in mind.

Happy gyming!

Lauren xxx

“…And if it sometimes leaves you feeling tired and tender, then rest in knowing you are doing the hard work of growing.”

Tori Press

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