Detours-Part 2

Dec 10, 2010
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There is an unwritten agreement and code of conduct that exists between the client and professional.  I try to establish a business perspective with the fitness professional I am working with as quickly as possible.  This is a business transaction not a social gathering.  It is my responsibility to keep a professional demeanor and conduct with the fitness professional at all times regardless of what may happen in session.  It does not matter if I have had a bad day in other settings.

My response to scripted questions like “How are you today?” is “My Hamstrings are stiff.” Or “I can’t bend my knees.”

I want the fitness professional focused on assessment of warning signs and indicators of trouble in our work.  I want them in tune to spikes of spasticity that may occur or to be aware of other types of physical reactions, ( over stimulation) that neither of us expects.  I do not want to hear about the movie they went to see on Wednesday night or where they took their significant other on a weekend getaway.

When I am working with a fitness professional there are tasks to be completed, assignments, and follow up that have to happen. I look at the work I am undertaking at the Fitness Center as a second job.  The boundaries of this business dynamic become complex.  Most service professionals aren’t reaching across a table to correct body position.  My legs aren’t cargo to simply be maneuvered without inquiry or consent.

Having a fitness professional direct and provide instruction in exercises establishes objectives and straightforward tasks.  If I am asked to lift and bend my knee; I do that.  When I am injured, I lose degrees of control of my body.   With the variable of Cerebral Palsy, I experience a pendulum effect from spasticity (stiffness).  There are days when I am flexible and days when I am not. The stiffness level can change in the span of minutes when I am injury free.  When I get hurt, my spasticity can increase and become exacerbated.

In the instance of this back injury; this work becomes more personal and I am more exposed. James often has to move my legs to certain angles and heights and carry the limbs through a series of motions.  How does one rise above this vulnerability?   Part of it is the level of experience the fitness professional has.  James seemed to just know to ask me in advance if he could move my legs or change a foot position.

Comfort levels also come from moving beyond scripted questions “How does that feel?”, “What is the intensity?” to questions that are more targeted and specific.  James learned to preface questions like – “You should feel a sensation, pull or stretch in this_______ muscle group.”  He points out the muscle group and where the reactions should be felt.  I can provide feedback more appropriately from the technical guidance.

History becomes an important factor in injury recovery.  James knows my primary goal is to improve my walking, prevent secondary disabilities where I can, and to advance to walking device free.   James knew that my re-occurring complaint of pain was out of the norm and needed medical follow up.  His acute awareness, attention to detail, and assessment that the pain was not typical of previous muscle reactions I had experienced led to medical follow up for the systematic diagnosis and treatment course.

Stay tuned for the final installment of “Detours” by Kerry Wiley on Wednesday December 15, 2010.

Kerry began working with James R. House, III in December of 2009.  James is an experienced fitness professional who earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University in Physical Education with concentrations in Exercise Science and Athletic Training.  He has over 15 years experience in the sports and fitness field.

Author: Kerry