I have heard “You can’t” so many times

Hey guys! My name is Chandler Gobin, and I’m a Licensed Master of Social Worker in Texas. I was born premature and had a traumatic birth that resulted in mild spastic diplegia - meaning I have CP in my lower body. This affects my balance, coordination, and makes it more challenging to walk. However, the more you know me, the more you’ll find this is the least interesting thing about me! I’ve grown up around a caring and helping community my whole life. Since I’ve been given the privilege to speak on behalf of my own experiences, and I genuinely love helping others, I became a social worker. I love making others feel less alone and appreciate stories of vulnerability. 

I used to not workout at all to avoid potential pain, injury, and fear of people not understanding my limits. That’s why I’m so excited about evolve21, which lets me pick and choose which exercises my body can and can’t do. Recently, I’ve worked with an amazing physical therapist on a home workout routine, and I combine my daily evolve21 workouts. I never thought I would exercise on a daily basis, but I really enjoy exercise and being pleasantly surprised to what my body can do!

For me, I didn’t work out in the past because I couldn’t believe I could. I knew I couldn’t run, jump and lift free weights, so I thought my exercise options were very limited. Sports were also something I knew I wouldn’t be good at because I walked slowly and I was embarrassed to fall down in front of my peers. I was more embarrassed I would be treated as an “inspiration” and be pitied by others than be treated fairly. I wished I didn’t have CP, because I put so much effort into walking and moving daily and that wasn’t being recognized either. I was so focused on what my body couldn’t do that I forgot all that my body is able to do. I also thought I was too fat, not fit enough, and not pretty enough to exercise. I still struggle with some of these thoughts sometimes, but now I focus on how unique my body is. 

Adaptive fitness is vital for everyone. Exercise is a wonderful tool to let endorphins out and serves as a stress reliever for so many people. For me, exercise is a way to prove nay-sayers wrong and show other people what my body CAN do. I was stuck in a weird mindset of me NOT being able to do things I wanted to do for the majority of my life. I let these limitations affect my mood, independence, and was even hopeless at times. Adaptive fitness gives me independence and freedom that I can’t find in a traditional gym or PE class. I finally feel like my body is being included. My body is strong, powerful and I’m learning to love it. Sometimes I still wish I didn’t have CP, but it’s something I have to live with, and I can’t change that. Instead of being ashamed of my body, I can learn how my body operates and teach others how I break a sweat. If I can learn to be comfortable in my body, I’m hoping our society can be comfortable with us in their gyms, cycling classes, and sports arenas. By having these adaptive fitness programs, I hope we’re teaching our society we’re not just pitied people in vegetable states, but dynamic, lively, and beautiful people who will put in 10x the effort to get things done.

I think there’s this weird misconception that people with disabilities can’t workout. Growing up, I remember idolizing gymnasts and their remarkable flexibility, and hating my own body for being incredibly stiff. I have heard “You can’t” so many times from doctors, physical therapists, and medical professionals, so I started to internalize what I couldn’t do. My self-confidence plummeted and I stayed away from physical activity due to fear of hurting myself, as well as others not understanding how to help me. However, I’ve always been a competitive person and have strived to push myself. Once I got into college, I took my physical health and fitness seriously. I was frustrated by the lack of attention disabled athletes receive and the lack of accessible exercises available for disabled students. I believe every type of body should be able to be healthy and fit, and that can be possible. Fitness can be something that I don’t have to dread and I know won’t hurt me in the long run. I’ve been genuinely surprised by what my body can do and I’m thankful I’m proving myself wrong by doing these exercises.

It’s so essential when you’re starting with exercise and wellness to have a positive attitude. I often reframe my mindset by saying “My body is able to exercise today” or “I can workout today” instead of “I have to work out today.” You also need to look at the big picture. When I was younger, I wouldn’t stretch or abide by my home programs from my physical therapists because they were painful and why would I want to do something that hurts my body? Spoiler alert: These physical therapists know what they’re doing. If you stick to your stretching regimen, exercise program or wellness routine, you’ll start to actually feel better and walk better. Write down why you’re starting this journey or program, and hang it somewhere you workout every day. One thing that helps me is filming myself working out. At first I thought this would be obnoxious, but this has helped me be accountable - not only am I working out for myself, but I now have an audience who looks forward to seeing me have my daily workout. 

In general, if you want to be successful in this, it’s important to be surrounded by a positive community and positive people who support your decision. Cut those people who will scoff and laugh at your decision out of your life. Invest in a quality physical therapist or personal trainer who truly understands your disability, or is willing to put in the extra effort to hear what your needs are. Don’t be discouraged; if everyone else in the world had CP you would be rocking it! Realize you’re putting in 3x the effort it takes for a able bodied person to exercise and be proud of the badass you are. 

I’m really enjoying the cardio and yoga programs on Evolve21 right now. I really like the Cobra from the yoga pack! My back feels so much better after completing that exercise, and I like hearing my back pop! I like the simplicity of wall sits where you just sit on the wall, and I’m working on doing a proper push-up! I’m not there yet, but I’m about 3/4 the way to the ground. I’ll keep you updated if I can actually reach my chest to the ground. That workout is tough!

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Jill RosamiliaComment