New Knees, New Trainer, New Me

Matt and I go way back. When I was a much more active (elder) soccer player I would come visit him to help with personal training corrective exercises. He brought me back time and again so I could journey forth back on to the field.

Over time I began to realize that Matt Newell was taking a much more global view of my physical abilities. Through these early sessions, he was observing some challenges in my gait and posture, both resulting in part to being run-over by a car in 6th grade and a few bad ligament tears from subsequent ski accidents. To say the least, my body alignment and performance were a mess. I began coming more frequently so Matt could focus on targeted strength building and flexibility.

So at age sixty-six, when it was time to hang up my soccer cleats, primarily due to progressive arthritis of the knees and a recommendation that it was time to have those knees replaced, I reached out to Matt again. This time to prepare me for the surgery so that I could have as short of recovery time as possible.

He went to work, focusing on very specific muscle groups to build my resiliency to having such an invasive surgery. All I can say is this pre-operative training was successful based on the feedback I receive from others. I amazed the nursing staff that was up and navigating around the floor the day after surgery. They had not seen this before for a double knee replacement. Then within 4-weeks of surgery I was back at weekly T’ai Chi lessons.

It was at this time, I began the post-rehab personal training with Matt. He was very patient, always attentive to my progress and set-backs. Most importantly was his continued encouragement during those many moments of frustration when I thought I wasn’t progressing as quickly as I had wanted to.

A testament to this attention was my fly-fishing the rivers of Alaska six-months after the surgery. But I was still not back. Almost a year after the surgery, I was hiking the Jefferson ridge on Mount Washington, and got to the point where there was a number of large boulders, where one had to step (hop) across. I froze; I knew what I wanted to do but didn’t trust I could do it, so I turned around that day. My challenge seemed to be my proprioception in regards to my legs and feet. There was definitely some impact to my nerves during the double knee surgery, but once the new knees were in, my alignment changed between my lower and upper leg bones.

That next week, I met with Matt and explained the mental challenge I was having. After hearing this, he set to work first with balance exercises and then balance with strengthening. He was very inventive in the ways he challenged me and played into my competitive nature by developing exercises that allowed us to challenge each other. This regimen has been going on for about a year. My confidence has increased substantially. I can now jump from point to point with some acumen and the distances are increasing both laterally and vertically.

But here is what is really important about having a professional trainer: it is the constant vigilance and questioning about what I am experiencing and feeling in regards to very specific muscle groups.

He is attentive to ensuring a balance of training approaches that not only continually improves my posture and gait but also allows me to progress, or at least maintain, both strength and stamina that just makes my life that much richer.

Michael Simpson
Member since 2003

To learn more about personal training at the River Valley Club, visit our training page, email, or speak with one of our fitness consultants in the lobby of the Club.

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Jennifer Packard

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