Back in July 2022, I received an email from Shannon that she was interested in training at ANCHOR. Her biggest concern coming into the gym were her injuries and pain. In addition, she wanted to find a place that would actually be comfortable and could help her, specifically for her age group.
Now, her emails made it seem like she could barely move. But, in my mind, there is always something that someone can do. That could be as basic as breathing to rolling and crawling. I finally got her to come in for a wellness session in September. My goal for that session was to evaluate and see all the things she could do while also teaching her where she should feel things and how to move properly. I just wanted to make sure she left the session feeling good and not worse while also showing her that she could do things and hopefully start to build some confidence and trust.
Sure enough she crushed her wellness session! We did a heck of a lot more than she probably expected to. She had also been told by another professional that she would never be able to “move” again. (Well, of course I’m always the one that wants to prove others wrong).
As we started working together, she not only got stronger physically, but there was a shift in her mental resilience as well. It was time for her to believe that she could move, and get the words of this professional out of her mind. Around January 2023, about four months after working together and during one of our sessions, I asked her, “what is your goal, and what do you want to be able to do because the sky is the limit.”
She told me she wanted to be able to hike. Shortly thereafter, she was sitting in our first planning meeting for our hike to Shenandoah, VA where we would head in October 2023 to tackle Old Rag and Mt. Robertson. A 14 mile hike in total, that can last 8-10 hours and 4,025 feet of elevation gain. Certainly, not an easy hike to start with! Oh, and on top of that, a rock scramble to get to the peak. This rock scramble includes jumping, pulling, pressing, and crawling to navigate safely through.
I had set her up on a plan to get her miles in on her own, but we would focus on preparing for the hike in the gym. My biggest goal was to make sure that she would not only be able to complete this hike, but that it wouldn’t debilitate her as well. I needed to keep her strong enough so that when she finished, she felt great and she would still be able to walk the next day without pain (a few scrapes of the shin from the rocks don’t count ;)
On Thursday, October 19th, we began our hike of Old Rag. We started before sunrise and began our ascent to the peak. Everyone was having a great time, engaged in conversations, and supporting each other. As we were getting close to the rock scramble I noticed that Shannon was right behind me. I was going to make sure she got through it (with us both having a fear of heights, we had to stick together and just get to the top). For some reason that day, the adrenaline was pumping and the height didn’t scare me at all (very strange, but I’ll take it). It was truly the most perfect day of sunny and 70 degrees and a group that helped support each other along the way. Whether that was helping to push each other onto a higher rock, or taking back packs, sharing food or water, the teamwork to get through this hike was amazing to see and still brings a smile to my face.
Finally, before noon we reached the summit of Old Rag (with just a couple minor shin scraps from the rocks). (Pictured below is Shannon and myself at the top). I was so excited for her to get there! Now, I knew we still had another summit planned, plus getting back down is generally the toughest especially on the joints. We made our way back down Old Rag where we all hung out for a bit, grabbed some food, taped any potential blisters and got some water in. At this point, you had the option of going 6 flat miles to get out and back to the parking lot or hike up Old Robertson Mountain. We trekked our way up Old Robertson. A completely different experience from Old Rag. It was pretty and definitely challenging from an elevation perspective, but I wouldn’t call it as exciting as Old Rag. It was mainly a single path up and down through the trees. We all had to stay single file for most of the trip. After a slight detour for missing one part of the trail, we got back on path and got to the top of Old Robertson. The best part was seeing Shannon laying at the top on the rocks and just soaking up the sun. I could have stayed at the peak for the rest of the day. Everything was so quiet, the sun shining and the view was quite amazing. However, time was also going to be crucial as we didn’t want to run out of water and definitely didn’t want to finish in the dark. There was a stream about an hour out and I did refill my water (with a filter), but was hoping that I could get back to the car without needing it.
As we got off of Old Robertson and passed the stream, it was basically a straight walk out of the park. We started off in a big group and somehow Shannon and I got in the lead and just basically started speed walking. Not sure why we both picked up the speed and pretty much ditched the rest of the group, but I’m pretty sure we knew it was getting close to dinner time. Finally, 10 hours after starting our journey, we completed the hike. Shannon absolutely crushed it. After being told to not “move” again, she did what others told her she couldn’t do. All she needed to do was believe.
Sometimes, it just takes a mindset shift. We are one body. It is all about looking at mind/body/spirit or energy as one. If you have a positive mindset and a belief, your physical body responds. It takes a few positive steps to see what the body can actually do. Shannon went from being in and out of two physical therapists and in and out of a sports medicine doctors offices when we first met. Within four months and a mindset shift earlier this year, she took control of her mind and body. She then completed the hike and hasn’t had to step into a physical therapist or doctor’s office in over 7 months.
On top of that, she had no issues or injuries from the hike. She was back in the gym the following Monday on a new program to elevate her strength and overall fitness.
Now, Shannon and the entire group are planning on hiking again, tacking Old Rag and finding other mountains to go to. I couldn’t be more excited to have seen her and get to witness her goal. The purpose of training at ANCHOR is so that you can enjoy everything else that life has to offer. Being able to stay fit to hike, walk the dogs, throw the kids and grandkids around, travel the world, and not have to worry about being sick, unhealthy and weak (muscular weak).
If you see Shannon around the gym, give her a high five!
Second, if you have been scared to come in and try things out, I totally understand. Gyms can be very intimidating. If you think you need to “get in shape” before joining, you don’t! We will meet you where you are on your journey and help get you to where you want to go safely.
I have never seen anyone regret starting their health and fitness journey. Most of the time, I’m told they wished they would have started sooner.
If you have a goal you want to achieve outside the gym or if you want to improve your health, just respond to this email and I’d be happy to get you going! We will guide you every step of the way!