The first time I had "Mary" do quick steps on the agility ladder, she got so frustrated that she couldn't make her feet do what she wanted to. I told her, "That's why we're doing these drills to help you get better mind muscle control." Second round of quick steps on the agility ladder in the same workout, she went so fast she almost lost control. When she finished she had the biggest smile on her face and said, I can't believe I just did that!"
Mary who is 70, came to me not too long ago inquiring about fitness training. She shared with me that she had had breast cancer and had had a mastectomy. She said she wanted to do whatever to make herself as strong as possible. We decided on one-on-one training sessions, two times a week.
During our first workout, I asked Mary to get down on a mat on the floor for one of the exercises. She looked at me and said, "I have to get on the floor?" I replied, "Yes." Then she said, "One of my biggest fears is falling and not being able to get up." I said, "That's exactly why we need to get on the floor. Getting up and down is part of the workout."
After completing the exercise, I could see the difficulty, Mary had in getting up and a big part of it was not being confident in her ability to get up. So, I showed her how to bend her knee with her foot out front and how to distribute her weight so she'd have better balance when standing up. She did it perfectly and that same smile that I saw when she conquered the agility ladder appeared.
At the first workout of her second week, Mary told me that she almost didn't come. She said she felt weak and a little lightheaded after the last workout and she almost talked herself out of coming back. But she came and we talked about it being normal to experience a fitness dip when adding new intensities to the body and about the importance of properly fueling and hydrating before and after a workout.
Mary's learned that lack of balance and muscle weakness doesn't entirely happen because of age, it has more to do with inactivity. We've worked on full-body strength as well as working lateral muscles such as her hip abductors to increase balance and that ladder to increase mind muscle control. Mary is now doing dumbbell step-ups on a 16" step. Every time I increase the number of reps for an exercise or the weight for an exercise, she'll look at me to make sure she heard correctly and then she'll smile before doing the exercise.
Mary continues to conquer the ladder, get up and down with ease and is even starting to run. Even with cancer, Mary is taking control of her life. She's a true inspiration.
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