On November 17th, 2017 I started my workout at Leverage with bench pressing. I was feeling really good that morning and knew that I wanted to push the envelope a bit. So, I decided to work towards my one rep max to see how much it improved over the last three months. As I approached my last set I was feeling very confident and pleased with the progress I made. I lifted the bar off the rack and began the descent down towards my chest. I can vividly remember what happened next. The bar was about two inches from my chest and from the corner of my right eye I could see my right pectoral muscle tear and shrivel up into my chest. Immediately I knew that this was a serious situation. After I got out from under the bar I was feeling rather light headed and dizzy. From the traumatic event my body went into a “shut-down” mode. Fortunately, I was surrounded by several Leverage members and staff that were able to help me until the emergency medical services arrived. After a MRI it was determined that I had a complete rupture of my right pectoral muscle.
The Wake-Up Call:
Immediately after the injury I can remember sitting in the ER hospital bed and thinking two things. The first was how fortunate, lucky, and blessed I felt that I only tore my pectoral muscle. That may seem a little strange to think that someone could feel this way only a few hours after the injury, but as I replayed the injury in my head I kept thinking of how much worse it could have been. The second thought that came to my mind was how amazing the Leverage community is. Staff and members all rallied around me in this time of need to make sure I was okay until the ambulance arrived. They made sure that all of my belongings were collected, and most importantly contacted my wife to inform her of my injury and let her know where I would be. At the hospital Leverage staff brought enough lunch to feed my wife, myself, and about half the emergency room. This level of care continued pre- and post-surgery.
Today I am three months post-surgery and just started the physical therapy rehabilitation process. Although I still feel very blessed, I find myself dealing with a new realization. Personally I believe in pushing the limits and constantly challenge myself to be the best in anything and everything I do. I am not upset that I am hitting the reset button and starting over. I know that in time I will rebuild my strength back to where it used to be. The most difficult part of my setback is not the physical piece, but it is the psychological piece. There is an internal struggle every time I workout. The part that fueled and pushed me my entire life wants to walk over to the dumbbell rack and grab the biggest weights I can find, however the responsibilities and privileges of being a father and husband always run through my mind. When the injury happened the only question I had for the doctor was “Would I be able to throw a baseball?” Sometimes we take things for granted and the thought of not being able to play catch one day with my son was extremely depressing. I know as I continue to strengthen my injury that this conflict will only continue to grow. I feel that this is something that many people go through. It’s that point in time when you realize that you can’t do what you once did. Certainly I did not expect to reach this point before my 30’s. I know that this will be an internal battle that I struggle with for the rest of my life, but I also know that being able to wrestle with my son and hold my future children are well worth the sacrifice of lifting the biggest dumbbells I can find.
As with any injury the most difficult thing is being patient. After a few months of inactivity I found myself eagerly waiting to start physical therapy and get back to Leverage. Then once you begin the recovery process and start to feel good, you have to remind yourself not to push yourself too hard. Surprisingly, to myself, I have been able to follow the doctor’s orders and I know that I am on track to full recovery. In addition, the injury made me focus on strengthening my legs and enhancing my cardio, both of which were much needed. With that being said, I’m looking forward to a few less lunges in my future workouts.
Currently most of my workouts focus on strengthening the lower body/core, and building cardio (running/spinning). Every week that I progress in physical therapy I get to add more and more activities that resemble my “normal” workouts. In fact, I just started doing tricep extensions, pulldowns, and seated bench press on a machine. Although it was only a few exercises and significantly less weight than usual, I couldn’t help but smile.
For me nutrition was a difficult thing to deal with in the beginning. Personally, I feel like I’m the best version of myself when my mind, body, and soul are in harmony with one another. Certainly exercise is a very important part of my life, both physically and mentally. The first two months after the injury were difficult because I was focused on recovery and was very limited in what I could do. I certainly ate a few more “comfort” meals than usual, but at the end of the day I knew this situation was only temporary. Once I was able to start back in the gym everything fell back into place, including my nutrition.
First and foremost I have to thank my wife, Allison, for the unconditional love, care, and support she continues to provide me. I know that I would not be in the place I am today (physically or mentally) if it wasn’t for her. Second, I would like to thank my son, David. He may only be two years old, but he is the number one motivator for my recovery. When I had depressing days thinking about not being able to workout like I used to or painful nights from recovery, I would look at his smile or watch him sleep in his monitor and think of all the amazing moments yet to come. Lastly, I would like to thank all of the Leverage staff/members that helped me through this setback, especially Tim and Jenn. I am truly blown away by the genuine care I received.
- Trainers Tim Hlivia Erin Tanner Jenn Lombardo Jessica Youngblood
- Instructors Tim Hlivia Erin Tanner Paul Shiber Jenn Lombardo Stacey Unvarsky Wendy Tedesco Danny DePhillips Maria Rallo-Godfrey Jessica Youngblood Kelley Obeid Jessica Piazza