A Very Special Sit-up


I have a client I have worked with for over 2 years. She has become amazingly strong and healthy taking great pride in the fact that she can move rocks and boxes for friends. In her 40s, she looks better than most women ever do in their lives and can play basketball and run with her teenage son, priceless. But even more priceless is her understanding how her body works.

But she often talked of her Mother, and how she worried about her mother’s physical state.

Two to three times a year her mother comes out from back east to visit. I had heard about her host of aliments; pretty much the usual sort from people in their 70s, but what I really heard from her daughter, was the lack of movement she was getting on a daily basis. The main thing I notice in people like her in their 70s, is they have been convinced by their doctors and physical therapists that their pains, lack of motion and other problems will just be something they have to deal with the rest of their lives. They become resigned to a sedentary lifestyle. I don’t agree. If a body doesn’t move, the human body deteriorates even more and quickly. I don’t care what the surgery, hospitalization, in a wheelchair, on a walker, if I can get the client to move, even a little bit, their mental and physical state will improve drastically and quickly. Circulation is so important.

Her mother is a very pleasant woman. Always wanting to please but full of self-doubt and more conscience of her pain then what works in her body. I find this is true for most people including myself, we focus on the pain, not our abilities.

She listed off her host of ailments and surgeries and what she felt was lack of good medical care, especially physical therapy, after hospital stays. But I focused on her back. She was hunched over with no core muscles and no thigh muscles with tight hips. All recipes for falling and breaking hips and backs in elderly clients.

The first couple of weeks she worked with me and found out she could do light weight work and felt so much better after the workouts especially with being able to move those tight hip joints. On her next visit to her daughter’s home, I focused on her thigh muscles and stability and balance. So, everyone needs to be able to do things they thought they could never do and by this time, she trusted me. I never ask a client to do something they can’t do. I make sure they have the muscles and stamina to do milestone type of things and this was the day.

I put out a knee pad, had her kneel down on both knees and get up, without using her hands, get back up off the ground with no help. She was so proud to show her daughter and the smile was priceless, from mother and daughter. But this wasn’t the act that I knew meant something to her even though for me, having a person over 70 being able to get off the ground without their hands is always serious progress and something I focus on, but this isn’t about me, it is about the client.

She came back for a couple of weeks and now I wanted to work on that back more, straighten it by adding muscle to the core. I worked on those shoulder blades, got her back straight for the first time in years which engages stomach muscles.

Then we got on the floor to do sit-ups. On her first attempt, she could barely lift her neck and kept straining her shoulders and neck. I told her to concentrate on her stomach muscles and use her hand to feel those stomach muscles engage. I used at first 2 hands to physically lift her, then after a few reps, just one hand with barely any help from me. I asked her if she could tell that I was barely helping her anymore and yes she knew it and said she had felt that.

“Great then do a sit up yourself, ” as I moved away from her. And She DID!!!

Her response was giddy, “Can I do one more?” And she did, without my help.

She had to come home back east and was very grateful. I showed her by the use of 5lb weights she could do sit-ups on her own by using them for leverage. I look forward to seeing her again in a few months.