Athlete Spotlight: Mark The Mason

spinal nerves
spinal nerves

Mark is one of our adult clients. His son has trained with us for the past 5 years or so and Mark joined us about a year ago. Mark is a stone mason and is used to working with heavy things like boulders, slabs of granite, and other mason-y things. However, when Mark first started with us, he was in not-so-great shape. Mark had fallen into a hole. He was walking backwards on a job site and fell into a large, deep hole. The fall caused some MAJOR damage to his neck and right shoulder. Discs at C3 and C4 were crushed which translated into terrible nerve pain and weakness in his right shoulder. He spent months on pain medication and in rehab to regain some semblance of function. Mark walked in our doors just under a year after his fall.

When he started, understandably, he was pretty weak. (After 9+ months of barely doing anything, it wasn't a surprise.) His core strength was very, very low and he had difficulty with a lot of the beginner exercises because of it. Planks were his nemesis and he would shake after 10-15 seconds.

We started him out on trap bar deadlifts, with only 65 lbs. He stayed around that weight for at least 2 months while we hammered core strength, single leg movements (oh how he "loved" split squats!), and slowly built up the stamina and strength in his shoulders.

After 2-3 months we tentatively tried pushups. He could do a few with his hands elevated but he tired quickly.

Mark worked hard. He showed up every Tuesday and Thursday morning for his training sessions. He was consistent and steadily Mark grew stronger.

Pretty soon, he was doing pushups on the floor again. (he can knock out about 40 in a session now!) He can now perform split squats and step back lunges without wobbling, and even holding weights! He's graduated to landmine presses with both shoulders (a feat unthinkable during the first 6 months). He's even started crawling (bear and tiger crawls) while dragging chains. (How I wish I had a video of that!) Mark blew past old barriers and is stronger than he was before the fall.

His deadlift inched upwards and we moved him to straight bar, conventional deadlifts. He was a little nervous at first and we worked on his form for a couple months. Then, he was feeling snazzy one day two weeks ago, and decided to increase his weights.

He hit his first PR of 215 for 3:

Then, about 5 minutes later, a second PR of 225 for 3:

Up until this point, the most he'd ever done was 195. He was SO excited that he could barely wait to tell his son his accomplishments. He was giddy and practically skipping around the gym for the rest of his session.

Mark works pretty long hours but he says that he has a much easier time making it through the day. He told me he had to crawl up a steep hill last week that would have been nearly impossible a year ago. This is music to our ears since our whole goal was to increase his strength and make daily living a breeze.

We are so grateful to work with Mark. He always has a smile on his face and a laugh that's just waiting to burst from his mouth. His dedication is inspiring to our other clients and we're eager to see what he'll accomplish in 2015!