There’s something very special about seeing someone get stronger.
In the framework of what we do at RevFit, it’s great to see someone hit a new personal record (especially if they’ve plateaued for any reason).
However, what about the strength that gets us through life and not just what happens in a gym?
When Pat (age 71) first started training with me, she had recently been diagnosed with emphysema. This diagnosis came despite the fact that she has never been a smoker.
Pat has cycled through several stages of weight loss in her life and so that was certainly something that we established as a priority for her. We (she and I) believed that the weight loss would benefit her breathing capacity.
Throughout the time she’s been with me, she has seen some weight loss. Although, she has also dealt with some personal tragedies and some other health issues that have made weight loss temporarily take a back seat.
Due to some of those health issues, we have not been able to train her lower body as much as we’d like. Instead, we’ve focused primarily on upper body work, some core work and a very limited amount of lower body exercises.
At one point she said to me “You know, thank God I’ve been doing all of this upper body work with you. Just to be able to get in and out of the bathtub is a big thing for me!”
Pat also helps with her elderly parents, both in assisted living, and has had to rely on her strength to physically help move them when need be.
For most of my clients, I have them on 4-week training cycles. Where possible, and for those who are physically able, we keep the big lifts (squat, deadlift, bench press) in the cycles and change out all of the supplemental exercises every four weeks.
Due to Pat’s current impairments, the only one of those big lifts that has remained a staple is her bench press.
Which means that she sees a fair amount of variety in her training and we are constantly looking at where we can increase her relative strength either with more reps, more weight or more sets.
What we’ve seen change over the years that Pat has been here is a sense of confidence in what her body is capable of. Sure, she can lament what is not feeling ideal, but she always manages to come in and focus on what she can do versus what she cannot.
And this is really the inspiration for why I wanted to write this article today.
Pat is working within her limitations of what she is physically able to do. Some days, she comes in and she tells us “I’m just not feeling great today” but she gives us her best effort.
Pat, to me, personifies “strong.”
Not because she can out lift the other women in the gym, but because she’s not afraid to push her body, achieve more and feel accomplished.
It doesn’t have to be ideal, it just has to occur.
Strength means one thing in our twenties. Many of us have bodies that are resilient, recover quickly and can often make great strides in strength increases.
That strength changes and morphs as the decades pass and the importance of what we lift and how we lift it changes as well.
Strength, for me, never meant more until my father was dying from cancer. I was never more grateful that I could deadlift a few hundred pounds from the floor than when I had to hold and lift and shift my father’s body whenever he couldn’t move himself. That was a gift that training gave me. That gift was invaluable.
For clients like Pat (and we are fortunate to train several clients in their 70’s and beyond), strength means something else altogether. It’s not about vanity, it’s about living.
And so this article is in celebration of not just Pat, but everyone who is willing to put forth the effort and the work to get stronger.
This article is being released days before Thanksgiving so I would be remiss if I didn’t share my sincere gratitude to every client who gives us the privilege of helping them find their own strength and taking it as far as their bodies will allow.
Below is a recent picture of our Pat, right after she hit an all-time high on bench press of 85 pounds.
We love you “Mama Pat.” Thank you for your strength.
“We Make Great People Greater”