Christine Parker, a local client from Harpenden, explains how weight training, though considered unconventional at first, has helped her move in everyday life, and given her a strong understanding of the way the body works:
I found out about Chris from my next-door neighbour Pauline. I had had a cup of tea with her at the height of her vertigo problems and she was very withered and withdrawn. Then some months later I noticed a dramatic change in her well-being: she seemed energetic and happy again and I asked what it was down to. When she said she had been doing weight training I was really taken by surprise but was intrigued enough to go along with her to watch one of her training sessions with Chris.
I was amazed to see Pauline was lifting really heavy looking barbells and doing movements like squats that looked hard enough on their own let alone with weights on top. Chris explained the elements of the techniques that he was focussing on to get the joints to move in the correct way and how these techniques could help me with my aching knees.
“Don’t worry,” they said “you won’t be lifting any weights at all when you start: just your bodyweight”. I heard what they said but, to be honest, this sort of training really didn’t look like something I wanted to do: I had no interest in lifting weights and, from hearing the coaching, it all sounded very technical and not the sort of thing I was prepared to put time and effort into. But all along in the back of my mind I couldn’t help thinking about the changes I had seen in Pauline, and how she said it was the work she had done with Chris that had helped her.
So I decided to give the training a try. It was every bit as hard work as I thought it would be, both physically and mentally! Chris immediately picked up on errors in the way I tried to perform the movements and explained how these compensations were leading to the knee pain I felt in my day to day life. Like when I tried to squat my knees caved inwards, my left (worse) knee especially; and when I tried to press any bars my wrists were bent and crooked. But we began working on trying to remedy these issues. I found it extremely frustrating and I would get angry at myself as I could feel myself making these errors and knew it was wrong. Getting the coordination to get my body to do what it needed to do as opposed to what it was used to doing required so much concentration and repetition. As hard as it all was, it all made sense and that was what made me want to continue putting the work in until I got it right.
I did get there in the end and the results it has got me are truly worth all the toil and frustration. Friends and work colleagues have remarked about how I never complain about my knees anymore and wonder how this can be. As a result of the postural work accompanying the upper body training, I no longer suffer the neck and shoulder pain that came about after a skiing accident where I broke my left shoulder. People tell me I walk taller than I used to. I have much more energy to be up and about on my feet, where I used to look to stop and sit down and rest my knees and feet as often as I could. All the technical knowledge I have learned about human movement has been invaluable as this has greatly improved my awareness of how I move my body. I find I stop and correct myself now when I catch myself falling back into bad habits. The training has even addressed how I walk and helped me regain better control of the arches in my feet.
I have continued to train with Chris once a week. Eighteen months on, the sessions are no longer technically challenging from the mental aspect but they remain very taxing from a physical standpoint as Chris makes the exercises harder and heavier when we start finding them too easy! As tough as it is, I’m very thankful to Chris for his patience in coaching me and his confidence that I would master the movements eventually. I’m also thankful to Pauline for making me try a form of exercise I would have never considered in a million years on my own!
Christine is employed as a teacher at a preschool, runs a property letting business with her husband, and has a third full-time job in being the mother of two teenage children. For her sins, the sole hour of time she gets to herself each week is spent performing gruelling weight training. Bless her!