Fitness Trail: It’s what you can do that matters |

Fitness Trail: It’s what you can do that matters

Just about everyone has physical limitations regardless of age, fitness level or gender.

Consequently, what really matters is what you physically can do, not necessarily what you cannot. Perhaps with physical therapy, future corrective surgeries or replacements, and certainly with well designed exercise programs, what you can do today may significantly improve with time. However, in the interim, focusing upon what you can physically do may help you to achieve the best short-term, and perhaps long-term, results.

First, find out specifically what your limitations may be by seeking the guidance of your physician. Ask them for a referral form to submit to your certified personal trainer or instructor so that you and your trainer specifically know what your physician advises. Request that your physician be specific about what you must avoid so that the trainer may design your exercise program accordingly.

But also listen to your body — if it hurts, don’t do it.

If you are currently in physical therapy rehabilitating an injury or other issue, develop a relationship between your physical therapist and your personal trainer so that, with your permission, they are able to work as your “team.” This “team” approach may provide the most comprehensive plan which addresses both the specific (i.e. the physical therapist’s focus) and “rest of the body” (i.e. the trainer’s focus).

Once you know what you can do, then the horizons broaden as there are hundreds of exercise programs which may be feasible. Carefully designed exercise programs may take into account your limitations and through modifications enable you to safely perform many exercises and participate in many activities.

For example, if you have been diagnosed with a chronic knee injury (depending upon the type of injury), currently, running a marathon may not be the advised activity for you.

In fact, many of our cycling clients were runners for many years. Over time, their bodies began to sustain injuries due to impact and poor biomechanics and they determined that choosing to attend indoor group cycling programs and riding outdoors was an equally challenging, but less impact-oriented activity than running. After giving their knees and spines a break, many were able to return to running, but continued cycling too as the two activities are an ideal cross-training combination.

Another example is that you may experience knee discomfort when performing squats/lunges. Perhaps you may still perform a squat/lunge pain-free as long as you do not perform too many and you are performing the exercise technically correct. Supported squats, wall or TRX squats may be good alternatives to traditional unsupported squats/lunges. Additionally, performing squats/lunges less frequently or fewer sets/repetitions, may address this issue effectively.

Both for post and rehabilitative purposes, training on the Pilates Reformer may also provide muscular strength training, flexibility and core stability benefits without the discomfort of standing, weight bearing squats/lunges.

While cycling instead of running and modifying squats/lunges are just two examples of focusing upon what you can do, the concept may apply to just about any exercise/activity. Begin thinking out of the limitation “box.” There are a plethora of exercises/activities that you may be able to enjoy and perform successfully still reaping many of the benefits—begin the journey today.

Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Mountain Life Fitness, LLC located in Granby. She may be reached at her website at or email at

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