Going for A Walk-Part 2

Nov 19, 2010
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The partnership with James began in December 2009. He made it clear to me during our workout sessions that he understands my goals and has embraced them. Together we may experiment with adaptive exercises, but I am not a specimen and James has never treated me as one. He is courteous and has a thoughtful professionalism. He periodically checks in to gain feedback for exercise progression and fatigue levels as we work.

He seeks my permission before moving or manipulating my arms or legs. He has an effective and gracious means of informing me about what muscle responses should have and might have emerged as new exercise sequences are attempted. He knows and respects my desire to perform the work and instructs me on how to do it in a way that is safe and controlled.

When James began working with me, he was an active researcher, examining videos of previous work with his predecessors. The videos showed the use of specific modalities in strength training, and he observed where success had taken place and where more work and other skills were required in deficient areas. Based upon the program review, he had me discontinue certain exercise sequences that were hindering my overall performance. Tissues directly affected by those exercises were already, in many cases, too strong and had become compensatory. That is, they were doing jobs they were not supposed to be doing. James also explored several outside resources that might be beneficial to me.

The research that James completed made me trust and respect his knowledge and efforts. It was clear that he was working for me. The challenge for some professionals is learning the line between working for the client / trainee and presenting options for their final judgment compared to jumping ahead and making the decision and proceeding without the input of the client.

During our workout sessions, I am in complete control of what outcomes we work toward. If an approach is not working, I stop it and explain to James why I have ceased doing an activity. As a client, it is my job to trust and abide by the trainer’s recommended approach. James is there as a leader and director of the sessions.  I, in turn, follow requests, perform the drills, and offer important feedback. In the rare instances where I will not comply, there are critical factors influencing why I would not or could not proceed. For example, if we tried a particular approach and it hurt or did not work as we wanted, we stop and try to find another way.

As James leads the program development I have my attention on issues such as:

1. How much will new interventions cost me in financial expenditure, physical and emotional energy and fatigue?

2. Is this new approach in alignment with my goal to walk without devices? Or will a modality create an unintentional detour that will distract me from reaching my goal?

3. How much time is going to be required to implement the suggested course and work outside the fitness center? I am investing three days at the center, and time is valuable since it is not only about the time spent on site under James’s supervision. I expend time beyond scheduled sessions to get to and from the appointment, time performing the exercises at home that I need to maintain function, etc.

James and I had conversations about key factors that influenced my decision-making so that we would have the same aim. Communication in every professional relationship is key. The dynamic between the professional and client is delicate. It is cultivated through active listening on the part of the professional and the client, trusting assessments, and evaluations. We need to constantly communicate about whether the current approach is meeting the desired end and to determine if modification is required.

As James’s client / trainee, there were instances where I just needed to follow through with a request despite fear and misgivings. I had to trust the trainer and his expertise. When new problems were identified, I had to release fear of the unknown and reservations to be open to testing and other assessments to identify physical anomalies.

As our work proceeded, James observed that I have a leg shorter than the other. I consulted with my physician and based on a complete assessment, it was determined that the shorter leg was due to tight musculature. Since James’s observations have been confirmed, new foot orthotics were prescribed and made to “level out” the height discrepancy. James developed a plan to keep me on course with my walking goals. As my trainer, James has the much needed and appreciated thought process to work with unanticipated anomalies that result from my disability. James has demonstrated the ability to problem-solve, adapt, and advance my program goals. All of these traits and skills are the key elements that supported my complete participation and previous achievement of goals.

Read more about Kerry’s journey on Wednesday November 24 in Going for A Walk-Part 3.

Author: Kerry