**Originally posted by Matt Cavallo on MFNBLOG on 12-15-2014**
One of the activities my wife and I used to really enjoy doing together was going to the gym. We had a personal trainer named Eric. Eric was funny, knowledgeable and understood how to maximize the workout for both me and my wife. Having a personal trainer that understood both our individual needs kept us motivated to workout. Eventually we moved and got a gym membership. However, we did not sign up with a personal trainer and the gym experience was no longer that unified activity we enjoyed together like we did when we worked out with Eric.
Matt Cavalo PhotoAbout a year after we moved, I lost functionality from the waist down and was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. After the diagnosis, I worked with a physical therapist to learn how to walk again. We worked out in a therapy gym and also did aquatic exercise. While I was working with the PT, I felt motivated to participate in my rehabilitation. After I learned how to walk again, I was discharged from therapy.
My wife wanted me to go back to the gym, but I found that I suddenly had become afraid. With my MS diagnosis, I developed a fear that if I went back to working out that I might hurt myself. I started giving her excuses for why I couldn’t work out. I felt like I couldn’t share my new found fear. She was trying everything to get me back and even suggested that we find a new personal trainer. However, I didn’t want a new personal trainer. What if that trainer didn’t know how to work with MS patients? What if I hurt myself and ended up back in the hospital? After all I had been through, the gym wasn’t worth the risk.
During the next couple of years, I experienced relapse after relapse and let my physical fitness slip away. That fear of hurting myself still gripped me. Being out of shape was effecting my quality of life. During this time, my wife had given birth to two beautiful baby boys and I was struggling to hold the babies. An MRI of my neck revealed a fractured vertebrae that was pinching my spine. I was faced with the decision to have emergency surgery or face the possibility of becoming a quadriplegic. I opted for surgery and worked with a physical therapist post-surgery to regain my strength and range of motion in my neck.
The results while rehabbing post-surgery were amazing. I could play with and carry my boys without pain. I felt stronger than I did before surgery and finally felt like I had control over my health. Then, I was discharged from therapy. I was given a list of home exercises to follow. Then the fear set in again.
Again I found myself thinking that if I remained sedentary that I wouldn’t hurt myself again. My wife provided encouragement and urged me to come with her to the gym. We even bought the package where we could drop the kids at the play area and have an uninterrupted workout. Even though my physical therapist stressed the importance of continuing strength training and exercise following therapy, I had a mental block that was stopping me from joining the gym. Again she mentioned getting another personal trainer and having fun like we did with Eric, but I was afraid that the trainer wouldn’t have the same knowledge about my illness and injury that a physical therapist would.
However, that paradigm is shifting. When I met Lisa Dougherty, of the Medical Fitness Network, I learned that there was a whole network of fitness professionals who work with patients like me. Using her service, I was able to find fitness professionals in my area that have expertise in working with patients with similar conditions. Knowing that I can find a find a trainer who understands my complex condition, I no longer have the fear. The Medical Fitness Network has given me hope that I can safely get back into the shape that I was before my illness and injury. As a person living with MS, I know that staying in shape is one of the keys to slowing the progression of the disease. Now, with the Medical Fitness Network, I feel like I have a partner to help me achieve my fitness goals despite MS.
If you are like me and seeking a fitness professional who understands your condition click the photo or hyperlink to explore the great, free benefits of the Medical Fitness Network: http://medicalfitnessnetwork.org/
If you are a provider and are interested in joining the Medical Fitness Network to list you clinic and service, please visit the Medical Fitness Network: http://medicalfitnessnetwork.org/