Posted on 02/02/2017 at 11:44 AM by YMCA of Greater Des Moines
At 411 pounds, Elaine didn't think it was possible to reach a healthy weight on her own but she wasn't sure if a trainer could help either. "Emotionally, I felt awkward and definitely out of my comfort zone." Then, she got matched with "a little fireball" named Kary "who may be all of five feet tall."
When I first contacted the Waukee YMCA about a trainer, I was given an appointment for an interview to determine my needs and get an idea of who might be a good match for me. At my highest weight of 411 pounds, you can imagine my surprise at being matched with Kary Austin who may be all of five feet tall and does not have an extra ounce of fat on her! She loves to run, works out for fun, and organizes boot camp workouts before and after her full-time work schedule.
I always describe Kary as “a little fireball,” because she has unending energy and a lively spirit that last her through any workout or activity you can imagine. When Kary greets you with, “I have a fun exercise for you to try tonight,” you know it’s fun for her, but it may be described differently by the client and will certainly be felt in the affected muscles over the next couple of days.
"I always describe Kary as 'a little fireball,' because she has unending energy and a lively spirit that last her through any workout or activity you can imagine."
Members may wonder what a trainer can do for their workouts, and I can tell them about my experience with Kary from a point where I could do very little to my current schedule of working out with Kary for two hours one night weekly and three to five other times per week at the YMCA by myself with the exercises and goals we set together.
Our first meetings were several years ago when the YMCA was still located within the Waukee High School building, and we’ve been together consistently ever since, with my husband working out with her from time to time, too. When I started, it was difficult to fit into some of the machines, and I didn’t know what exercises were safe for me to do in those first workouts.
Kary adjusted the machines so I could get started at a rate that was safe and useful. Emotionally, I felt awkward and definitely out of my comfort zone. Kary helped me find a workout that would suit my needs, my abilities, and my confidence level at every step of the way. Little by little, I was able to feel better about coming to the Y even though our image in the Waukee YMCA mirrors still resembles Mutt and Jeff when we catch a glimpse of ourselves!
"Emotionally, I felt awkward and definitely out of my comfort zone"
It was difficult to cope with the emotions of those first days and at various stages of the weight loss, but Kary does a wonderful job of encouraging me at each step and adjusting the exercises to suit my needs. She has been with me through three shoulder surgeries, a total knee replacement, as well as several other surgeries and illnesses over the years. She has kept me going regardless of the roadblocks or detours that have presented themselves.
In fact, she carefully adjusted my workouts during each of the post-surgery physical therapy phases so I could continue to exercise safely. Many times hospital staff have commented on my strength and rate of improvement after a surgery or illness, and I always give that credit to Kary for making it possible for my workouts to continue throughout any treatment programs.
Now, at just about sixty pounds from a healthy body goal at age 65, I have a completely different attitude toward my future. A few years ago, it would not have seemed possible to reach a healthy weight or lifestyle on my own, and I wasn’t sure how the YMCA trainers would be able to help. There were many times I would have struggled and surely given up if I’d tried to exercise on my own.
"Now, at just about sixty pounds from a healthy body goal at age 65, I have a completely different attitude toward my future."
Even now, there are days when I could easily talk myself out of driving the few blocks to the Waukee YMCA or visiting the YMCA Healthy Living Center, but I know Kary will find a way to keep me going if I can just convince myself to put on my workout gear and get going. Her positive nature and encouraging words are just what I need to keep watching for progress and working toward goals that will keep this healthy transition going in the right direction.
Our conversations during the workouts over the years have introduced us to each other’s family, friends and philosophies. We’ve encouraged each other through parenting and life experiences that brought both laughter and tears. Our “match” as a trainer and client was made several years ago, but it has become a wonderful friendship for which I am grateful and blessed.
"Our 'match' as a trainer and client was made several years ago, but it has become a wonderful friendship for which I am grateful and blessed."