Twelve years ago I put this girl in her car seat and drove from Texas to Florida with a single suitcase, a small cooler of food, a little cash, no credit cards. We left 2 days after Katrina hit and much of the way we were faced with people, including children, standing on the medians begging for money and food. It was a complete disaster zone. I had so little money that we bypassed staying in even the cheapest motels and just slept at rest areas in our car along the way. I remember starting our day with the sunrise at an Alabama rest stop. We sat atop a picnic table and shared a can of tuna and crackers for breakfast and it was one of the happiest meals I've enjoyed. I had no idea how I would make it but I had this little person who I would slay dragons for and that gave me all the courage I needed. We had no home to go to. We had no reliable plan, but I needed to leave my dusty West Texas town and go somewhere I could thrive. That gypsy wanderlust is something that has always followed me.
We made it to Orlando and I started my work as a personal trainer. I couch surfed for a bit and then I used a new, uninhabited condo complex to squat in. We had no furniture...not a single plate...or towel...nothing. Just what was in our suitcase.
I used the money from my first client to buy food and a $19 air mattress I found on sale. That was our bed for months. Because we were squatting, I had to clean the condo and pack up every single morning. Deflating the air mattress and trying to make the place look untouched. It was quite the morning routine!
Within the month I had made enough to put a deposit down on a dingy apartment that I was SO GRATEFUL FOR. With the little I had, I bought two towels, and two bowls as our first home furnishings. I still have these and ate my dinner out of one tonight. It's such an incredible reminder of the journey I've been on.
I remember hiding all of this from nearly every person I knew. All my clients. My few friends. I thought that someday I may feel like telling the story but the present moment was not the time. It was important to me to maintain my pride. Now I wear the adversity I navigated through with pride. There has been no shortage of adversity, and for that I am grateful.
I remember at one point, spending my daughter's birthday in our car. No home to go to. An experience like that forever changes you. The gratitude it instilled is indescribable.
Today, I don't have much in the way of possessions. But I am infinitely rich in gratitude. It's taken hard work, the grace and generosity of people who have cared about me, and a lot of hard lessons to be where I stand. My daughter is beautiful inside and out. Getting recruited by schools I only dreamed of. Her spirit soars and her genuine compassion for all of those in her path is extraordinary.
I don't have a purpose for sharing this story. Perhaps it will remind you of what it reminds me...
...you will be okay. You will make it. It won't be easy. It won't be the path you imagined. But it will be an adventure with the most awe inspiring characters the universe has to offer. You will be loved. You will fall. You will find a way. Always.
By Cynthia Hunter, NASM CPT, PES, WLS
The gym is a controlled environment but there is still concern of injury caused from improper form, musculoskeletal imbalances and lack of stabilization. Read on and learn how to prevent injuries and workout smarter!
1. Ladies, this one is especially for you. Seated adductor machines. I know you like to sit on them in the hopes your thighs will be firmer and fat will disappear, but I must interject some wisdom. The majority of individuals have tight adductor muscles making habitual use of this machine detrimental to optimal function of the body. This could potentially lead to medial knee pain and some ACL injuries.
2. Next on the “better to skip it list” are seated abductor machines. With routine use, this machine can increase dysfunction of the piriformis. This can lead to symptoms of piriformis syndrome. A tight piriformis can eventually lead to chronic back pain, hip pain, and lateral knee pain. If you do suffer from the effects of a tight piriformis muscle be sure to foam roll!!
3. Torso rotation machines. These machines lure gym members with the thought of a tighter core and slimmer waists. However, this machine should NOT be used by individuals with a weak and underdeveloped core. Without properly developed core stabilization these exercises could lead to low back pain and increased translation of the vertebrae. After you can perform the stability ball “iso” rotation exercise, and keep your abs engaged and hips stable, you will be more conditioned to move onto this type of machine.
4. Your chest is tight. Chances are your pectoral muscles are severely overactive. This is because we use computers, drive, live looking down at our phones, and do other daily tasks in a forward motion using the chest muscles more than our back muscles. Strength training the chest is a good thing, as long as you pay equal (or more) attention to the back muscles. But there is one archaic chest machine that should never be used. Trainers may cringe at the very sight of these dinosaurs. The pec dec. Use of this machine puts an extraordinary amount of stress on the anterior shoulder complex and could eventually lead to bicepital tendonitis and cervical strain. Just stick to the traditional chest press machine and let the pec dec machine do what it’s best at…holding the floor down.
Any questions? Shoot them my way. I love to share what I’ve learned.
Lucett, Chere. Common Resistance Training Exercises and Machines to Re-think
When you walk into any gym setting you may assume some inherent risk of bodily injury. Intuitively you may steer clear of certain areas like the squat rack or other areas that the hulking muscle-heads of your gym have their grunt fests. This may lead you to seek out a fortress of safety in your nearest yoga class, comfortably surrounded by a pastel sea of lululemon. A haven led by a qualified instructor who will teach you about the workings of inner peace and raw juicing.
What if I told you (as a fitness expert with nearly two decades of experience) that this setting may be the most dangerous place in the gym? Before you write me off as being batshit crazy and click on to the next fitness related post…keep reading. This just might save you months of recovery, physical therapy, and ongoing rehab.
In my practice as a CPT and stretching practitioner I have seen a conveyor belt of well intentioned individuals come to me for help after of all things…yoga injuries. That’s right…yoga. Not always weights or sports related injury or car accidents. The recent majority has been from yoga.
Before you get those lulu’s in a wad, hear me out. This is NOT the yoga instructor’s fault. I have not once seen an instructor that yelled at their students to get into a particular pose. They are generally very mindful about requesting that the students listen to their body, do the poses only when ready, or substitute poses entirely to show compassion to healing or past injuries.
So what could it be??
It’s YOU. That’s right. You. The You that insists that your Downward Dog be more downward than the person next to you. That part of you that knows your shoulders aren’t quite ready for that Chaturanga but you push through it anyway because everyone else is. Or perhaps you saw your neighbors Pigeon and were determined to get that stubborn right hip of yours to finally look like the spandex clad pigeon next to you.
And then all of the stories come to me in the same format. “Cynthia, I was in yoga and I did the _______ pose and my ________ hasn’t stopped hurting since.” To which my reply is generally, “were you focusing on your own practice or looking at your neighbors pose?” Well, you know the answer. How do you prevent this? Easy. Just as in life, when you lose sight of YOU and the present moment and start comparing yourself to those around you, you WILL get hurt. Redirect that misguided energy back on you, your goals, your well being, and your health. And as always, if you have any questions or need help getting back into your practice…I’m here.