Eight years ago I woke up each morning, swung my two healthy legs off the side of the bed and began my day. I didn’t give having two legs or walking a thought; I was just living my life like everyone else. My life was full, very busy and always active. When not at work I was playing with my kids, working on a home project and maintaining my yard to perfection. The highlight was spending the winter weekends skiing with my 3 kids.
I had no idea what TRX straps were, no interest in leaping onto a 30” box, and hadn’t done a burpee since elementary school. I had also never stepped foot into a gym nor had any plans to ever do so. If someone had told me then that 8 years in the future I would be a personal trainer, I would have said, “Yeah right, did you forget that I was the kid who almost didn’t graduate high school due to getting a zero in gym?”
But life threw me a challenge!
After six painful surgeries in an attempt to regain use of my destroyed ankle and six years of being in pain, unable to walk or do the activities I enjoyed, on September 24th 2014 I did the unthinkable – I had my lower left leg amputated.
Within weeks of the amputation, I decided to take on the challenge of becoming a strong, fit and capable one-legged guy. I signed on with a personal trainer. Having the painful dead leg gone was truly liberating, and I now wanted to be pushed hard and given no special treatment. I had no idea what I would accomplish. I soon found that the more I challenged myself, the easier my daily life as an amputee became. Before I knew it, with only my one leg, I was leaping on to 30” boxes, flipping 175lb tires, planking on two medicine balls, swinging on the gymnastic rings and signing up for physical challenges outside the gym that I had no idea how to achieve. With each one of them I grew into the person who could accomplish them and reaped the rewards of victory.
I was now a one-legged man on a mission with no excuses and no limits.
My determination to succeed physically in the gym gave me the power to take control of my life back. After 7 years of pain and suffering, I was active, strong, confident and loving life again.
The most rewarding part of my fitness journey has been having the ability to inspire people to get out and make improvements in their own lives. With the loss of my leg I have gained an incredible gift: the awesome ability to teach people that it doesn’t matter what challenges life has thrown at you, you can accomplish anything you want with determination and hard work.
So why do I do what I do? Today I wake up each morning, swing my one leg out of bed, put on my prosthetic leg and begin my rewarding day as a personal trainer. I don’t give having one leg a thought, because as my wife says, I am the most able person she knows. None of this happened by accident; I became a strong, confident, 100% able amputee by pushing and challenging myself through grueling workouts at the gym.
I lost my disability and got my life back in the gym. Now it’s my turn to guide, support and push others to overcome their challenges, discover their capabilities and give up their excuses. I will help them discover how exercise can give them confidence, improve their lives and give them what I call the “feeling of strong”.
I do it for my clients: a sixty-year-old who has spent the past decades taking care of everyone but herself and now fears for her mobility through her retirement years, along with an ex drug addict and a recovering alcoholic who signed on with me in search of healthier habits. I do it to help the young guy living with the challenge of Spina bifida improve his leg strength and balance, and to show a new young amputee in the gym, searching for his answers, that anything is possible.
Today, working as a personal trainer means I spend up to 8-hour shifts on my feet. I am in constant motion, moving around the gym and demonstrating exercises. By the end of the day I can’t wait to kick my leg off and give my stump a rest. Yet I will take it, considering that three and a half years ago I gave up on an active life to settle for a desk job. What I have accomplished in the 19 months since amputation blows my mind every single day. If I can do it, anyone can.
Take a peek into what a small part of my day is like.
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