For some, the Warrior Dash is an opportunity to push through 3.23 miles of mud, fire, and obstacles.
For five men and a trainer, it is much more than that.
On September 19, Michael Cromwell, a life fitness coach for Hope Network Neuro Rehabilitation, watched as five of his clients achieved goals some thought may never be possible.
Because all five are living with a brain injury.
Using the Warrior Dash as his therapeutic platform, Michael not only helped his clients conquer wall climbs and muddy, unstable surfaces, but he also taught them the value of commitment and perseverance.
“Most people don’t realize that 90% of training for our clients is cognitive,” says Michael. “The hardest part is motivating individuals to consistently show up for training while making healthy choices that can affect their results.”
Poor memory, difficulty with organization and scheduling, and lack of motivation are just some of the common challenges people with brain injury face. But with Michael’s creative strategies, they can overcome these difficulties without even realizing it.
“When I first meet with a client,” Michael explains, “We sit down and talk about their goals. We discuss their current fitness level, determine any limitations that need to be considered, and then develop a plan that provides an opportunity to complete a challenge.”
Michael, a NASM certified personal trainer and Fitness Certified Post-Rehabilitation Exercise Specialist, uses activities or events in the community as opportunities to conduct therapy in a fun way. Running a marathon might help with mobility. Working out at a local gym can silently address impulse control. Playing baseball helps improve concentration.
“Fitness and athletics have always been a part of my life” says Michael. “For me, it’s therapy in times of stress and also an opportunity to care for myself. If I can inspire someone to make health and fitness a lifestyle post-injury, then I’ve done my job.”
“Because health and fitness is not only good for the body and mind,” he says, “but it also feeds the soul.”