First Line of Defense
My iPhone announced this morning that Boulder, Colorado had just passed a new law imposing a tax on sodas. Yet another attempt at legislating health. We see the continuing uproar over proposed changes to our healthcare, specifically a wholesale revamping of Obamacare.
Both scenarios point to an underlying concern for the nation’s declining level of fitness. Obesity and type 2 diabetes continue to flourish. The long term consequences are dire for not only healthcare costs but also the overall negative impact of where our country will end up in the coming decades.
During the course of my career, the continuing education courses required to maintain my certifications, the involvement with chiropractors to rehab protocols to directions from doctors as well as the interaction with my clients all played significant roles in fashioning my perspective. I want every reader to be aware that we are in a war.
Personal trainers are on that frontline every day, being in the thick of the battle as your neighbors, your parents, your friends deal with the inevitable march of time. In my own circumstance, with the vast majority of my clients being in the over 50 age range, my engagement with the injured shoulder, the ever present knee concern or that hip issue that seems to be getting worse is constant.
The doctors and nurses are in the business of helping society recover from severe injuries or illnesses. Their extensive experience in repairing a person’s physicality, their terrain, has allowed our civilization to advance lightyears from 100 years ago. Before the turn of the 20th century, death and disabilities were almost exclusively the consequence of infection run rampant.
That is no longer the case. We can get people back on their feet from car accidents, war injuries and physical mishaps close to 100% in the vast majority of cases. The miracles that can be wrought are amazing.
The Next Step
The next soldier up oft times is the physical therapist. Once the hospital releases the patient, they are not necessarily ready to jump back into their customary day-to-day. There may needs be an interim step of disciplined therapy to gradually get the body back to its former functionality, measured step-by-step procedures to allow the muscles and bones to gain confidence to reengage life. The key is not only to persevere through the therapy sessions but continuing those efforts afterward. Just because you are feeling better does not suggest that the journey is over. It is only beginning.
Keep It Personal
After rehab or before the medical profession even needs to get involved, the personal trainer steps to the forefront. They demonstrate a proactive, not reactive, approach. By and large, people will look to start an exercise program because their body is continually reminding them ‘things ain’t what they use to be’. The potential client is usually not requiring any specific medical treatment or suffering from a particular injury. It’s just that the person has come to the realization that they can’t continue down the path they are presently on.
We trainers have the knack to take a person’s physicality and return it to a state more closely resembling what it was years before. The ability to literally turn back the clock is not an urban legend. From my vantage point, clients have demonstrated time and again an incredible resiliency to regain their functionality. Many end up doing what they use to do 10 or 20 years earlier and, in some cases, are able to go past anything they had done previously.
Been There Done That
Having been a personal trainer for over 15 years and, particularly because my focus from day one has been the baby boomer (and older) generation, my practical experience with those who I meet, whether through the gym or in home, has taught me methods that allow the individual to surprise themselves, discovering that they are far more capable than they realized. My 1000+ clients turned into my 1000+ teachers.
The adaptations for the knee, hip, elbow or shoulder have come from a collaboration between trainer and client. Each person is different and yet, many of the techniques work across the board. I have learned how to adapt to that outlier, that person whose response to a certain movement is different from those who have gone before. The result is an appreciation of several fundamental truths, some of which are not ‘in the book’.
The Coming Storm
The vast majority of the maladies we suffer today are the product of our lifestyle decisions. The bottom line is that my anecdotal experience gleaned since the beginning of this millennium has proven that, if you get up off the couch and make a commitment to a quality nutrition and exercise regimen, you will discover that it is never too late. And your reliance on medicines and medical procedures go down dramatically.
If this country truly wants to address the escalating financial burden of healthcare costs, be it from company plans, Medicare, Medicaid or individual policies, taking care of your primary asset, your physical health, must become a resounding mantra. One sobering statistic I have often used states “In 2003, Medicare and Medicaid outlays accounted for 3.9% of the gross domestic product. The Congressional Budget Office projects spending for Medicare and Medicaid alone could grow to as much as 21.3% of the gross domestic product by 2050”. Unfortunately, today’s statistics show we are ahead of schedule.
No amount of the ‘smoke and mirrors’ approach of our political class will forestall the looming collapse of our health care system. It is up to you to get up off your duff and take care of business. If you don’t, the financial tsunami will surely drown us all. Personal trainers can be an incredible resource to help stem, or even reverse, the rising tide. I trust this column establishes how we trainers can truly be the first line of defense.
Good Luck and Good Health!
Tae Kwon Do 1st Dan 2nd Stripe
ACE & AFAA Certified