I would like to introduce you to Michelle. She has been a member of Ambition Athletics for about a year now and in addition to making everyone smile on a daily basis, she has made more progress than anyone I have seen in my time spent as a coach. I can remember working with her on days when supported split squats were extremely difficult. She now routinely performs both reverse lunges and Get-Ups. There was a time when simply bending over to pick up her keys or reach for her toes was a process but she now deadlifts over 100 lbs on a regular basis. She has been very committed to the process and we are extremely proud of her. I recently asked Michelle a few questions about her experience over the past year.
When and why did you ﬁrst start training at Ambition Athletics?
I started training February 2011. I have been battling painful nerve degeneration since 2008. It was first diagnosed as sciatica, then three discs in my back were discovered to be bulging, however it still did not explain the peripheral nerve pain and lost of function I was experiencing down my left leg. I was on many pain medication prescriptions, had seen physical therapists, acupuncturists, chiropractors, and massage therapists but nothing seemed to reverse the slow degeneration of my nerve function or decrease my extreme levels of daily pain. When I came to Max, I had lost the ability to rotate my left ankle, my foot was beginning to drag when I walked, and I was about to undergo painful nerve conduction studies because I still was undiagnosed with a medical reason why all this was happening to me.
What was it like on your ﬁrst day?
I was afraid I was beyond help. I scored a 0 on the assessment and I couldn’t perform the simplest tasks, like lift my leg off the table. Max was conﬁdent he could help me, so I put my trust in him and committed to the process.
There were times in the past when you needed a cane to walk. Now you regularly run hill sprints and do agility drills. How does that feel?
Amazing. A year ago I was afraid I was heading towards a wheelchair. I’m a single mom of two kids and that’s just not an option. Max has given me the ability to care for my children, and that is priceless.
You are back to training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu regularly and recently received a belt promotion, how much time off did you have to take and how have things been going recently?
I just received my 3rd stripe on my blue belt. Having to stop training was a low point; every week I would ask Max if I could go back. I ended up having to stay off the mat for 9 months. The first day back was scary. I was finally off all pain medication and feeling great but petrified of screwing that up by being thrown funny. The biggest compliment I get is how strong I am. My jiu-jitsu is getting better because my body is at near peak performance. I can actually do techniques I’ve never attempted before because of my back/leg nerve injury. I’m excited that I’m getting better at jiu-jitsu and am thrilled to be training again!
Is there anything else speciﬁc that you hope to accomplish or get back to doing that you have done in the past?
Another passion I had to give up was surﬁng. I had lost my bottom turn and was looking at the very real possibility of drowning if my back went out while in the water. I just picked up a new board and cant wait to surf it when the water warms up.
Thank you Max, Mike, and Brian. Your hard work and encouragement on my behalf has giving me my life back.
I LOVE Ambition Athletics!!!
Again, we are very proud of Michelle and we thank her for sharing her inspiring story.
– Mike Baltren