Before finding Special Strong, Tyler was going to the gym with his mom, Mindy, but they were limited in what they were able to work on together. At the time, they were spending 3-4 days a week driving to a gym that was 40 minutes away. The long commute for an hour or hour and a half gym session took enjoyment out of the experience when they felt like they were missing out on time they could be spending doing other things.
Despite her dedication, Mindy noted that she was limited in her know-how and strength to further Tyler’s workout routines. Additionally, Tyler’s previous gym was geared toward people with disabilities with adaptive equipment. While their family had great things to say about the gym, they were ready to focus on breaking down some of those barriers and excited to try a more traditional gym.
“The frustrating part was that he didn’t have someone else who understood what he was capable of and what he was struggling with besides me and his grandma. It was limited what we were able to do,” said Mindy. “We were just hitting the same couple of things, so it was really just strengthening what he already had.”
He’s able to do things that he wasn’t doing before.
Starting with Special Strong, Tyler was able to start learning how to use equipment that wasn’t just designed for people with disabilities. At the start of his training, Tyler didn’t get out of the chair for three months or so. There was a focus on setting a foundation based on solid communication before they moved on to more challenging things, like breaking down barriers to find new ways of utilizing different equipment.
In learning some different exercises that required grip strength, Tyler was able to use hooks to be able to grab onto the equipment – which allowed him to better focus on strengthening the muscles that they were interested in strengthening. These days, he can now use one hook on one side, or start with both hands and transition back to using the hook when one gives out.
“At home, it’s helpful too because it gives him the ability to do more with his arms and hands,” said Mindy. “Fran gives Tyler goals so he has a plan for the next set amount of time and knows what to focus on. Fran is doing a lot of research on what Tyler can do, what his abilities are now, and how we might be able to push him to further strengthen those abilities.”
Fran caters specifically to each person – unlocking things that they don’t think they can do. He makes working out at the gym something to look forward to.
“I see the time and care that he puts into catering specifically to Tyler’s needs and abilities,” said Mindy. “He’s getting him to do things that I wouldn’t expect him to be able to do in the gym – and that’s transferring to outside of the gym. Before, he was only able to do things with me because I’m his caretaker. Now he’s able to go out with his cousin, with friends, with his sister – without me having to be there.”
“He’s made a really good habit out of fitness. He’s coming in, working and progressing, and pushing himself. I love seeing that.”
“We have different arrangements with each gym that we partner with – different memberships that our athletes can obtain, ” said Fran. “Typically our athletes don’t have access to the gym unless it’s open. Here at this martial arts facility, Tyler and his family have talked with the owner, and they now have a key to the facility so they can come in any time throughout the week.”
“When we started I got a photo of one of the first workouts he did,” said Mindy. “At that point, he had been working out with me for about a year. He had no posture, no strength in his core. His legs and arms had a lot less movement than they do now. Getting in and out of the car was a big deal without having core strength, so that’s become a huge focus. Even when we move to other body parts, we’re always moving back to the core.”
Tyler’s ability to get up and out of his chair and work on standing has greatly improved, leading to easier breathing and eating, and a big difference in his overall health. He can do a lot of things on his own now that he couldn’t do before. It makes a big difference in the family’s day-to-day life.
When asked what he felt was different, Tyler proudly proclaimed, “Everything!”
Special Strong partners with different gyms and facilities, and being in an MMA space has allowed Tyler to take on different challenges – on a gym floor, on a mat, testing out mobility drills, and allowing his body to move in so many different ways.
“For anyone who’s had a brain or spinal cord injury, one of the biggest ways to get them moving is to get them down on the ground,” said Mindy. “Being able to move on the ground helps their ability to sit and stand and really changes the way that they do everything else. A regular gym doesn’t have the space to do that. Before moving to this facility, we hadn’t tapped into that.”
Tyler’s big goal for the future – walking without assistance. Mindy notes the big difference she’s already seen when they walk around the house together. With his ongoing work on the mats, and strengthening his arms and core, he’s heading in the right direction.
If you would like to learn more about owning a rewarding Special Strong franchise, we encourage you to reach out to us today for more information.