Gym training with a broken body

Leg Press -May 16th

Last week, I wrote an article: Skating my way through pain. Which gave an outline of how I am able to skate and compete with Fibromyalgia (and my other long list of illnesses).

Well, this article focuses on gym training. I will explain my most recent gym day and then give tips on the gym for those who suffer in pain.

May 16th I went to the gym. My quote was, “New Season, New Trainer, New Training Program, New Strengths, Minimizing Weaknesses. Ready to kick ass next season.”

What I didn’t expect was…I walked into the gym. I sat down at the table waiting for a new trainer to show up. (He was on time, I was early). When the trainer showed up he took me into an evaluation room (originally I expected to be working out right away…especially since the gym and I already went through the process of asking me the questions).

So, what are your goals? What do you hope to attain from the gym? Have you been to the gym before? Those were the basic questions I was asked before we reached the evaluation room.

Sure, my goals are basically flexibility, working out without flaring up and staying healthy…Anyone who knows me, knows the flexibility I’ve had 5 years ago…is pretty much gone now, which makes it difficult while skating. 

We got to the room. The first question was, do you have any chronic illnesses/diseases that we should be aware of? I laughed at the question because, as a 23 year old my list is pretty long.

I said;

Fibromyalgia (his face dropped)


Ankylosing Spondylitis 


Note: I didn’t give the full list, I gave what I thought was important. If you want to know the full list you can go to the section “my illnesses” to learn more.

Have you had any injuries? Again I laughed…I have chronic illnesses where my body works different, I over-challenge myself and I am a figure skater. What do you think? 

I didn’t give my whole list…but I did give the basic;

Knee injuries (I’ve torn many ligaments in both my knees) 

Back injury

Rib(s) injury

Hip injury

Shoulder injuries


Next, what do you eat on a daily basis. I understand this is a legit question. At the same time, this is why I work with a nutritionist. I also threw in that I have a binge eating disorder, and have had one for 10+ years.

Note: The binge eating disorder has been a closed issue up until this year.

After I was given three options for my new training program.

Option 1- Base program and I work out myself.

Option 2- 3x a week with a trainer

Option 3- 2x a week with a trainer, 2x alone. 

He said option 2 was his preference. And gave no real reasoning which made it seem like all they cared about was money.

I argued that I wanted option 1- and he kept rolling his eyes. Why did I fight for it?

A) I know how to work out by myself and push my limits.

B) I know my strengths/weaknesses and still do it the best I can. 

C) If my body can only do 2 days one week I don’t want to have to pay for nothing.

D) Speaking of paying, I am paying for skating and coaches. I can’t afford a trainer 1hour…3 times a week (trainers are 80-150 dollars an hour when I asked about prices). 

E) I have not been fully cleared by doctors and specialists…

After arguing my case, he said someone would call me in the next 24-48 hours to make an appointment for the training program. I have yet to hear anything and in all honesty the way that meeting went, I don’t expect to hear anything. 

After the meeting I had two choices:

1) Go home for the night

2) Do my own workout 

I picked option number 2. And went straight to weight-training (with NO warmup)–With Fibro, I am used to not adding a warmup to my workout routines (on and off ice–but it is something I am currently doing trial and error with).

I decided to do lower body only. One machine was leg press and I managed to do 4 reps of 25 with the weight at 400 pounds.

My knees were shaking and I felt something in my abdomen pop. But today the day after… My body has gym pain and not Fibro pain and that’s a mentality boost for me.

My Tips:

1) Look at all the gyms in your area, ask questions and find one that suits you and your budget. 

2) Before you attend your first day, ask yourself what your goals (short/long term) are and the time frame you want to reach these goals.

3) Don’t let trainers sucker you in to their schedule. Follow your wants and needs. They are there to guide you and not force you. 

——–Remember if they don’t like your responses or you are not comfortable. Everyone is replaceable. 

4)  Try all the machines and write down what you can and can’t do. Record time, reps and weights. 

5) Break schedule down. Day one of gym cardio only. Day 2 of gym lower body. Day 3 of gym upper body— following the papers you recorded earlier. (Weight training days don’t forget a small warmup)

6) Once a month record again and try heavier weights etc. 

7) Listen to your body. If you need to miss a day from pain, do it. 

—-some weeks I can do 3 days straight, others I can do 1 day only. Don’t be hard on yourself if this happens. 

8) Try your best, don’t give up and stay hydrated. 

As time progresses I will post more tips and modify things (trial and error).

Note: Most trainers have no idea how to work with these chronic problems so don’t be afraid to ask questions and make suggestions. If they are open minded, they will learn with you and become a better trainer. 

Also don’t let the disease (whichever you have) take over your life. Instead, take over the disease one step at a time. 

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