*The title of this post was taken from the AlunaGeorge song of the same name*
When Deb approached me a few months ago to work with her cousin Tina, she knew I had a little bit of experience working with clients who have special needs. Tina, specifically, has Down syndrome. She had a little bit of weight to lose and after seeing how well her cousin Rob (Deb’s brother) did with weight loss after he started training here, it seemed like a good fit.
I met with Tina and her mom initially to talk about what some of the challenges might be involving diet and exercise. Tina was ready for the journey and felt confident she could get both diet and her workouts working in her favor to bring her weight down. We discussed some opportunities with food that may have led to her weight gain and worked on a game plan to make it all work together.
In my experience, working with individuals who have special needs, traditional strength training can have varied results. Some clients move well with little instruction to correct form while others have to see more modifications and substitutions to be able to perform an exercise properly.
In Tina’s case, we’ve tried to make her workouts more “play” and less lifting weights. As a result, we use ball slams, kettlebell swings, battle ropes, sleds and more.
Tina has been incredible. She is extremely witty, always ready to work hard and never afraid to let me know if she thinks I’m getting out of line (which NEVER happens by the way!) She lives independently but she always has a provider to assist her with daily living.
Consuela is one of two providers who works with Tina. Since it worked out best for Tina’s schedule to have Consuela come with her, the initial plan was to have Tina work out while Consuela waited here for her.
One day, Tina was using the battle ropes and Consuela showed an interest in trying them. I got her started and thought that maybe there could be a better use of Consuela’s time (plus extra motivation for Tina) if they both would train together.
We started discussing more details about diet for both ladies. Since Consuela had significant influence over what Tina ate, meals she packed to take to work, and her extracurricular exercise, it only made sense to have them both working towards the same goal.
Well, Consuela has been seeing incredible results. She knows what she’s supposed to be doing, she’s motivated by her steady weight loss, and she’s realized that she is actually a lot stronger than she ever gave herself credit for.
Not to mention, every time I post a picture of her progress on social media, her friends absolutely blow the post up with support and words of encouragement. I cannot possibly overstate the importance of this. Having a support system who stands behind you while you’re trying to improve yourself is monumental and you can’t put a price tag on it.
There is so much more to achieve with these ladies. We’ve barely seen what can be done thus far. What I do know, is that due to Consuela’s efforts, Tina is succeeding. That is an outcome that would have been difficult to achieve without someone like Consuela in her corner.
It has been really inspiring to see how these two motivate one another to get better, do better, train harder and eat right. Consuela is proving that when you are in control of your decisions and allowing little negative influence to affect your decisions, you can thrive. Tina is that extra little bit of motivation that Consuela needs to remind her that “I’m not in this alone, I am part of a team.”
And in just over two months, Tina is down 10lbs and Consuela is down 20lbs.
The best is yet to come.