There are times in which we get into a rut. Thinking about whether progress can truly be made. Our attempts at accomplishing a task might feel like they will fall short. It seems like this kind of emotion can be impacted by a physical disadvantage. A disability impacting you that doesn’t impact the majority of the population. It might be true, we all have our own challenges in life. Some looking much different from the challenges of others. Still, people have aspects they battle on the inside. Things they go up against that the person passing by wouldn’t see. The importance in each case seems to be the willingness to take on the challenge. Doing our best to look it square in the eye. Finding ways to diminish the difficulty, even when it can’t be eliminated. Cerebral palsy hasn’t been the only significant challenge presented to my life. However, many of the areas causing me trouble can be rooted back to my disability. Not necessarily cerebral palsy, itself. But, the way I look upon my disability. Along with the things I do or don’t do in taking on my physical challenges. The manner I chose to treat my cerebral palsy carries an emotional impact. Things have changed as the years have progressed. Leading to a better ability in managing the physical and emotional aspect of the disability. The work being done to improve my physical functionality helps with the emotionality. Showing, it will never be too late to feel better.
Bernard has often spoken about looking at fitness through the lens of a big wheel. At least, this has been my interpretation of his perspective. Meaning the things, I’m hearing might not be exactly in lockstep with his view. Nevertheless, making physical improvements has to do with working on a wheel of factors. In order to gain the ability to perform the crab walk. It takes more than spending hours working specifically on the crab walk. We have to gain strength in other areas to improve the crab walking ability. Performing exercises that might appear to have nothing to do with the crab walk. However, that exercise might be needed to improve one aspect of the crab walk motion. So, we worked on all kinds of movements that I couldn’t relate back to the crab walk. Strengthening muscles inside my body to help stability and coordination. The skill of coordinating my movements felt like the largest obstacle to performing the task. As Bernard would often explain the strength was there to perform the movement pattern. When I was about to make another attempt in moving a hand off the ground. He would remind me of having the strength to execute correctly. There was a block going on in my mind. There was definitely a physical block with the cerebral palsy impact. There also felt like an emotional impact with the trust of my ability. A role being played from the emotional disappointments of my childhood. Recalling the memory of sitting in the middle of a gym floor. Not even having the ability to balance in the crab position. My hips couldn’t be raised off the floor without clasping back down almost immediately. I didn’t want to feel that sadness, again.
The problem was, those feelings of isolation didn’t stop at school age. Years went by avoiding the thought of even nearing the crab walk. I would avoid the idea of even making an attempt at it. However, years later the movement would be re-introduced. It occurred years after I had been training with some consistency. Again, happening within another group setting. Not unlike the one I had experienced as a kid. The request back then, to perform the crab walk was eerily similar. The rest of the group seemed to execute the movement with little challenge. On this occasion, I found more strength than as a child. Being able to at least hold the crab position for moments. My work with the trainer, at the time, had given me enough stability to stabilize my hips off the floor. However, the ability to lift my hands and move them in reverse, was not found. I gave the crab walk my best effort. Wanting to keep up with the group I had been training beside. It just wasn’t meant to be during that period of life. The hollow feeling of failing at an exercise others could do rather easily, persisted. When Bernard introduced the exercise, all of these emotions came back. The few different instances of watching others around me succeed. The frustration of feeling like the crab walk was impossible with my disability. The feelings of isolation and ridicule because I couldn’t execute. It all had me feeling this instance would be the same. I would end the attempt in more frustration and sadness.
Something great about working out with Bernard as my trainer has been the healing. There has been the physical healing I get to experience in the world. Having less trouble with the physical tasks of everyday life. Experiencing improved coordination, allowing me to smoothly help someone pick an item off the floor. But, most of my favorite healings has been emotional. Experiencing someone with the patience to methodically teach me skills. Skills which, might have eluded me during childhood. Recently we spent months learning how to jump rope. A skill widely known in the playgrounds of my youth. Jumping rope was a talent I didn’t have back then, leaving me on the sidelines. Feeling different from the other kids and feeling weird. The experienced caused an emotional wound. No matter how small that wound might have been. When someone took the time to help me learn the skill of jumping rope. It was accomplished by me and Bernard. To the point where, jumping rope is now part of every workout session we conduct. My new-found ability at the age of 41, heals the emotions I felt on the playground. The healing of one emotional obstacle from childhood deserved another. Because Bernard had brought me along so well with a movement I thought would never happen, like jumping rope. There was something in me that thought maybe the crab walk could possibly come true.
Taking the first couple crab walk steps was probably the most exciting moment I have experienced working out. The joy running through me with the accomplishment would be challenging to explain. In the moment those steps were taken, pain from my youth vanished. Pain from the moments of adulthood. When the crab walk couldn’t be executed with my previous trainer, also vanished. The release of frustration and pain that had been inside for years was incredibly freeing. Once the couple steps of the crab walk were accomplished. We tried for as many as I could accomplish. The strength was found to perform about five crab walk steps in a row. All of the movements were short in length. Predicated on how far I could move my left hand in reverse. Which, remains to not be very far. But, the length of each step wasn’t the important aspect of the day. If I was accomplishing even small steps of the crab walk. The achievement was so astounding. I’m sure we will be able to lengthen the strides with time spent doing. There was a portion of the crab walk from Bernard, I hadn’t been expecting. After moving backwards my five steps. Feeling ecstatic about seeing our hard work come to fruition. He told me to now walk forward from the crab position. This was so unexpected, I kind of froze. Thinking, how in the heck am I supposed to move forward. After all the work having gone in to moving back. He told me to follow the same pattern with my hands and feet. Just do it in the other direction, in order to move myself forward. Oh yeah, no problem.
I attempted to execute the challenge of moving the crab walk forward. Repeating the steps and hand movements we had worked on to move backward. Moving the crab walk forward felt pretty challenging. But, I found the movement to be doable on that first attempt at it. Though, I was unable to perform the forward walk as well. For the five crab steps that had been taken in reverse. I was only able to perform two steps in the movement forward. It will take some extra practice in feeling out the movements. Learning the balance and stability required to crab walk forward. However, the ability to move forward even to a small extent, tells me it can be learned. The end result of this challenge to our workout session seems like it will be moving back and forward with the crab walk. Something I would have never guessed would be possible even a couple months ago. The movement forward has added a third exercise that wasn’t part of my ability as a youth. With the crab walking and jump roping being movements I had failed at miserably. While, watching my peers perform them with all the joy of a child. Some 25 years later someone has helped guide me through the work it takes. Helping me slowly challenge the huge items cerebral palsy decided would be beyond my capability. Learning these movements has shifted my perspective. As we age, we aren’t known to develop new skills. Always feeling like we have lost a step or starting to remember the things we could do at a younger age. There is still time to climb the hill. But, it requires choosing somewhere to start. The accomplishment that didn’t seem possible, provides a thrill to match the journey.