Finding the Strength to Start

When I set my sights on becoming a physical therapist, I always imagined I would work with athletes or at least practice in an outpatient orthopedic setting, but as I made my way through different coursework in school and ventured out into my clinical rotations, I fell in love with the world of neurological rehabilitation (think treating patients who have suffered a stroke, spinal cord injury, or traumatic brain injury). I remember feeling particularly excited by what I was learning during our unit in school on spinal cord injuries. When I had a rotation at an inpatient rehabilitation hospital and worked primarily with spinal cord injured patients, I felt what I imagine is what people describe when they talk about a “passion” or a “calling.” I feel extremely lucky that I now work in what morphed into my dream job over the years; I work at an inpatient rehabilitation hospital and am currently on the spinal cord injury team.

I remember talking to a mentor of mine early in my journey to becoming a PT and saying that I couldn’t imagine spending weeks working toward a patient goal of walking to the bathroom independently. I said that I wanted to help people get back to running marathons or playing competitive sports rather than “those smaller victories.” With more exposure to different types of patients and clinical practice, my perspective and my “why” as a PT shifted and I now see how much the impact of reaching what I labeled as a “small victory” can mean for someones independence, quality of life, self esteem, and more.

My day to day job at the hospital is challenging and rewarding; it is both exciting and exhausting. My coworkers and I are often working toward very practical goals to improve patients’ independence, improve their safety awareness, and address their balance deficits.This work fills me up and it feels like the space I should be right now in my life as physical therapist. That being said, I have another space which I feel energized by and pulled to pursue. In addition to my background in physical therapy, I love working out and I feel that I have so much to offer with my experience of playing competitive sports and working out on my own for many years. I specifically see a need for programs designed with women in mind and with the intention of empowering women to have the confidence to either initiate strength training altogether or take their current approach to the next level.

So many of my friends and my mom’s friends have never set foot in a weight room or have no resistance training in their fitness routines whatsoever. (Note: resistance training can include free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, or simply your own body weight). There seem to be 3 main ideas that present as barriers to individuals initiating resistance training. First, starting is intimidating. I felt very intimidated when I first began exploring strength training my freshman year of college. Beyond that, I felt embarrassed to be taking a bench in the weight room from a guy who I thought “deserved it more” since I only had 10 lb dumbbells and his were 50 lb. The truth is we each deserve to be in that space as much as anyone else and we all have to start somewhere even if it’s only with 2 lbs. Next, aside from the general intimidation factor of venturing into the unknown territory of resistance training, many of my friends are nervous they might injure themselves since they don’t know where to begin or whether they are using proper form. This is a real concern, but with sufficient guidance that focuses on proper form (which I’m happy to provide to you!), resistance training can actually play a big role in preventing injury. The third and final idea I hear most is that women don’t want to look “bulky” or whatever other adjective they associate with the stereotype in their mind of women body builders. Again, I understand this concern, but that is where having your “why” comes in to your personalized workout program. We can focus on different types of exercises depending on your goals and it is important to note that the primary reason I encourage women to engage in strength training is NOT for reasons that pertain to one’s aesthetic or physique but rather for its many other benefits such as maintaining bone density, improving balance, or improving sleep.

I have wanted to start this blog and business to share this enthusiasm and expertise, specifically centering women and their unique needs, for a long time. Every step of the way I have met resistance to starting within myself. This resistance has come in the form of fear of failure or judgement, wanting to wait until the “perfect time,” or having too many directions I want to go in and thus not going in any direction at all. I’m finally finding the strength to simply start and see where it takes me, and I hope that if you feel a desire within you to start something new (whether it be resistance training, meditation, writing, going on a daily walk, etc) that you find the strength to StartNow.

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