Last resort.

Daniel Yakupka, owner of Fit for Life Fitness in Alexandria, Virginia, remembers the first time he met Arthur. “He shook my hand, looked right in my eyes and said, ‘Daniel, I need some help. You are my last resource. Can you help me?’”

The former military serviceman faced significant health dilemmas. He had battled liver cancer for many years and had also been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The MS had taken a toll on Arthur’s mobility, and the cancer treatments resulted in pain, fatigue and brain fog. Arthur recognized that he needed assistance from a qualified professional to regain his independence and feel better. His wife, Annie, learned of Yakupka through IDEA FitnessConnect.

When the mind is willing.

When Yakupka found that his new client was incapable of walking by himself, he chose seated exercises for most of the initial program. This was tough on Arthur, according to the trainer. However, Arthur’s limitations were purely physical. “Arthur said to me, ‘Daniel, I want to work hard. I will do whatever you want,’” the trainer recalls. “It was right there that I discovered the most important thing about Arthur—his attitude. He had the right mindset.”

The initial training sessions featured a variety of seated exercises like resistance band rows and chest press. Arthur also did sit-to-stand and squat exercises aimed at improving his leg strength.

As Arthur grew stronger he began to train on the TRX® Suspsenion Trainer™, which became his favorite tool. “For example, we do TRX squats to low row—that’s his favorite exercise. Every time he finishes it, he feels empowered!”

Yakupka recalls that at the outset, his client could stand for no more than 15 seconds at a time. Currently, Arthur performs many exercises in the standing position, and exhibits significant improvement in leg strength. When the two first began working together, Arthur was able to complete eight assisted squats. He can now do 50 repetitions.

Hard days.

There were times when Arthur’s will was dampened by fatigue and often by the extremely painful side effects from chemotherapy treatments. “Chemotherapy definitely weakens a person’s immune system, putting the patient at greater risk for infection, which could result in hospitalization and interrupt and delay chemotherapy treatments, which would be both a psychological and a medical set back,” explains Yakupka.

Arthur adds that the regular exercise program often improved his symptoms, but there were days in which the motivation to move wore thin. Thankfully, he says, his trainer was always there to offer the support he needed to continue. “One day I told Daniel I might not be able to finish the workout because I was not feeling well,” Arthur says. “Daniel smiled and enthusiastically said, ‘Let’s see what we can do today.’ Within 10 minutes of the workout, the pain was entirely gone. The worst pain I had ever experienced was not only gone but I felt energetic and healthy. The exercise gave me energy and cleared my thinking when I felt groggy and out of it.”

Effecting change.

Often, it’s the personal trainer who receives accolades for being a client’s “change agent.” Yakupka believes that, in this case, the opposite is true. “Arthur helps me to be a better person every day. He makes me believe again in how powerful and important it is to be a fitness professional and to help improve the quality of life for others.”

Annie will forever be grateful to Yakupka for the impact he’s had on her husband’s quality of life. “I know you are the reason Arthur lives a full life,” she told the trainer. “Your skill has kept him mobile far better than any MS drug he ever used. I will recommend you to anyone at any time!”

Yakupka says his client has further instilled in him the value of a supportive mindset. “[It is imperative] to show up to every training session with a positive attitude and the energy to give back to your clients, because that session might be the most important thing in your client’s life.”

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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