Training and Cerebral Palsy: Bernard Moves On

It feels like the final couple weeks of my high school days. When there didn’t feel like much purpose to the work happening, at this point. The long-term goals of gaining strength have been left behind. The imagination of exercises to help cerebral palsy improvement have been explored. My work with Bernard has come to an end. Some ideas might stick with me as I moved into working with a new trainer. While, some will be left behind, replaced by another perspective of ways to help improve my physical functions. For now, we have just under a week worth of sessions to explore. Leaving us with four more hours on the calendar, as I write this post. Bernard moves on into the world of real-estate, as my previous trainer Ian, did before him. It almost feels like a natural progression for many trainers I have known. There has been much good that has developed during our time of working together. Probably the most unique thing about working with Bernard has been his familiarity with my disability. He has a young son, who has cerebral palsy, having a similar impact to mine. I have always felt the presence of his son has impacted our training, positively. The years working together have changed the functionality of my body, for the better. My coordination and balance have improved, along with my reaction time and use of my hands. Bernard has helped me reach the new levels of functionality by employing creativity. 

There were movements performed during our time together that struck me with surprise. The shock taking place both in the creativity and the execution. Many didn’t feel doable when they were introduced. But, each of the outside the box exercises seemed to truly target my disability. I appreciate the ability of Bernard to conjure up a lot of these ideas. Each of them leading to a more complex idea inside his mind. The progression of movement felt like a hallmark of the work I was tasked to execute. After many years of work sessions, I find it challenging to completely remember where much of it began. Snippets enter into the mind in the form of picture memories of our exercises. Some sticking out in clearer memory, as they probably caused more trepidation than others. Those were the exercises bringing the most satisfaction. The ones I looked at and questioned my ability to perform the movements. They helped grow my confidence and Bernard came up with many good exercises. The first one sticking out was making a balance beam. Using the small purple blocks in the yoga studio, we laid them along the floor, connected to one another. The blocks stood just a couple inches off the floor. Providing the ability for me to catch myself if balance was lost. I remember walking along the line of those blocks, maintaining good balanced steps. The exercise replaced negative memories of the past, when the fear of walking on a balance beam, kept my feet on the floor. It was the first of a few troubling memories from my youth that got replaced.

As our years together progressed, there became more exercises replacing youth memories. However, those movements took time in order to develop. Breaking down the exercise into smaller steps I could manage. The one elevated itself to my favorite was jumping rope. A movement originated not long after Bernard and I started our work together. The beginning was a piece of tape being placed on the floor. It was the simplest of first movements for me, to step over the line and back, again. The time and workout session moved on. When Bernard brought out a standard looking jump rope, it about floored my emotion. My initial thought was a feeling of intimidation. I had no question in my mind that I was going to embarrass myself with the exercise. The very first time working with that standard rope, I might have achieved two jumps. They were barely performed by double-jumping as the rope circled over my head. The moment bringing back to life the disparaging emotions I had in childhood. When it seemed everyone else could do what I could not. But, I hung with the jump rope, and persevered. Advancing through many stages until reaching the ability to use the speed rope. Our work together will come to a close in a few days. But, he will leave me with the ability to make 30 consecutive jumps with the speed rope. An exercise tool I would have never explored, and another healed emotion, because of diligent practice.  

The most productive part of our sessions didn’t really cause anxiety. Bringing about the concept of working with athletic balls. The concept began with throwing soft yoga balls into a basket. An exercise most enjoyable for its ease of challenge. Though I found out quickly my aim wasn’t what I had thought it to be. But, it was a relaxing exercise helping me learn to throw directionally. We moved onto bouncing and catching all kinds of athletic balls. Again, the work didn’t cause much anxiety, and was a good challenge for my hands. The feeling of improved fine motor control with my hands and fingers, couldn’t be denied. However, when we advanced to playing catch during each session, things got more exciting. Playing catch has always been an enjoyable activity. The activity seems to fade from life as we get older. Which, was one reason bringing it into the training sessions was exciting. The other was an understanding of the positive impact it would have on cerebral palsy improvement. Catching small or medium size athletic balls would not just help fine motor movement in my hands, but also place pressure on coordinating my movements. Playing catch to begin our sessions accomplished all of the goals with my hands and fingers, along with helping me react more quickly to stimuli. The relaxed atmosphere of playing catch allowed us to share an enjoyment of talking sports. While, doing the work of improving my disability. 

Leaving something which has become comfortable causes difficulty. This won’t be my first time moving on from a trainer. As Bernard has been the third trainer of my years working with someone. He has brought interesting perspectives to our sessions. I believe much of his insights have come from his son, who has the same disability. The first two trainers didn’t have the knowledge to work on my hand movements. Bernard was the first to bring out the athletic ball concept. He was also the first to push me on the jump rope. Along with spending time with the Bosu Ball. The half-circled ball that helped with my balance, inhibited by the disability. The challenges have been many. Taking me into movements not feeling possible before they were performed. We also got into filming some of our sessions. Using a GoPro camera to capture some of the routines we worked. The filming intrigued me into watching myself on camera for the first time in years. The videos created emotions, leading me into finding ideas to write about. While, raising my awareness when it came to how my body moves, and how I interact. Our work together has moved me forward with physical abilities. It has also taught me important lessons about interacting with other people. The comfort within our working relationship has come and gone. But, I have always left the sessions having gained something new. The time has come to look forward. 

I’m wishing Bernard the very best in his venture into the new career of real-estate. Hoping he finds traction to sustain him for years. As I look toward my future of training with someone new, it isn’t easy. The moving on of Bernard adds a level of uncertainty to my world. A life always carrying a bit of uncertainty, as I take on the challenges of my disability. My hope will always be to make a smooth transition. Going into the program of a new trainer with an open mind. Because, I know each of the trainers throughout my journey have brought something great to the table. They have all improved the challenges of cerebral palsy to one degree or another. But, letting go for me, has often been a difficult task. I can experience a bit of desperation to hold on to the predictable. Even when it might not be the best thing for my circumstances. When I finally say goodbye, it often brings an internal struggle. The worry weighs on my mind, as we wind down the next few days of sessions. The most positive thing to do is try looking forward. Focusing on what a new tomorrow might bring into my world. Thinking about the excitement a new program could bring to my goals of cerebral palsy improvement. Maybe, I haven’t seen anything like what I’m about to experience. I appreciate Bernard and all he has done to help me improve. His insights have been valuable and it has been a good run of years. But, the time has come to venture down new roads.

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