Going for A Walk-Part 4

Nov 26, 2010
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Passion for the Work-

When someone takes on a role as a personal fitness professional, it is because they have a passion for it. The spectrum of individuals that come into the profession is as broad as the day is long, with different expertise and different goals. As a full- time occupation dedicated to helping people make changes in their lives through guidance, support, and motivation, it requires the provider to be very giving of themselves.

As professionals, we work with a variety of clients with a range of goals and needs. When we work with a client with a disability, the role of the professional is different and varied. Forethought, preparation and insight are requisite. When a professional is faced with needs that may be beyond those of a “typical” client or the perceived “norm”, addressing the needs of a client with a disability may be challenging or fairly labor intensive. Fortunately our clients are usually goal oriented and have a certain vision. Working with clients is a privilege because typically they already have a burning desire and passion to embrace the knowledge we share for their personal improvement.

James House III and Kerry Wiley working together. Photo Credit to Ms. Nancy Andrews.

Kerry Wiley is one of my clients. Kerry has Cerebral Palsy. It has been my experience that Kerry and most other people with any disability want to improve their health and wellbeing. They want to be included, active, and participants. People with disabilities want and seek access to recreation, fitness, and other opportunities within their community. We know, however, that participation rates for people with disabilities in sports or fitness activities are lower compared to people without disabilities. Professionals can unintentionally over-estimate limitations. By and large, misconceptions continue to exist about people with disabilities.

I have had the opportunity to teach Kerry how to use muscles for function that she normally might not. Kerry has developed a means of walking over the years which only uses certain muscle groups. She has grown to depend on using these particular muscles for daily activities and functioning (e.g. using her upper body over her lower body for mobility). While a person without a disability may take for granted the motor skills they possess and how they use all of their muscles, it is very challenging to establish a neurological connection for certain movements. We are working to establish this connection for Kerry while also trying to use muscles that rarely, if ever, have been directly stimulated. As a result, these muscles are extremely tight and atrophied.

Forethought and Preparation-

When Kerry and I work together, we have to be careful not to over stimulate her muscles. If we over- stimulate her muscles, she can become spastic, (stiff or contracted), experience involuntary spasms, or have rigidity. When I plan a workout for Kerry, I have the “big picture” in mind. Since Kerry is currently dependant on walking devices, I have to think about how her outside life will affect our work. Some questions that immediately come to mind when I see Kerry’s name appear on my schedule are:

1. What is the weather and barometric pressure? Temperature changes directly affect her.

2. Has Kerry been able to fuel her body efficiently for the planned workout?

3. How much water has she had?

4. Has she been able to exercise and do her home routines?

5. What is her stress level?

6. Does anything hurt or lack in her normal mobility?

7. How much rest has she gotten?

If the answer to all of these questions is favorable and leans toward the potential of a positive workout, the next consideration is what can we focus on in session that will not disturb Kerry’s day to day function or disrupt her quality of life?

Read more about Kerry’s journey and learn more from her Personal Trainer James House III on Wednesday December 1 in Going for A Walk-Part 5.

Author: Kerry



  • Dosan

    I really like the title if your blog–going for a walk. We have a local program where we encourage walking in nature. Its uneven terrain etc so challenging some respects, but studies have shown health benefits…

  • Kerry Wiley

    Reply from Writer: Kerry A. Wiley and James R. House, III.

    Good Morning. Thank you for following the Going for A Walk article series! Interestingly, a study by the Oregon Research Institute (ORI) in Eugene confirmed earlier findings from a pilot study that walking on a cobblestone mat surface and/or uneven surfaces resulted in significant reductions in blood pressure and improvements in balance and physical performance among adults 60 and over.

    Researchers at the University of Colorado found that regular walking helped to prevent peripheral artery disease (which impairs blood flow in the legs and causes leg pain in one-fifth of elderly people).

    Another interesting trend is Nordic walking — Nordic walking, which uses ski-like poles, has proven benefits. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have studied its effects, and using walking poles forces people to pick up their pace and work harder walking without realizing it.

    Thank you again for following the series and please refer people to the Endless CapAbilities Blog.

    Regards, Kerry A. Wiley

  • http://www.plazafitness.net/ James R. House III

    Thanks for following along with us Dr. Dosa! No telling where this journey may end but we are doing everything we can to “make strides” in the right… and left… directions!!! My very best wishes to you and yours during this holiday season for a safe and happy time and many thanks for all he work you do in advocating for what is right.

    -James R. House III