Brittaney Cook and Personal Training Client

Give us a little history about your story and what brought you to AO.  My journey to and through AO has not been a linear or easy one. About six years ago I started experiencing unexplained health symptoms. I was in a highly stressful post graduate job as a social worker. I have always been thin and could easily lose (and gain) weight. I have never been particularly athletic and am not competitive so I didn’t find a lot of joy in sports or exercising. But after graduate school, that highly stressful job, and working 70-80 hours a week, didn’t allow for any self-care routine and I gained a significant amount of weight. With an undiagnosed health problem, you get prescribed lots of medications, and those medications lead to symptoms and the need for more medications. This started a downward spiral that caused massive and quick weight gain, as well as, major alterations to my mood and behavior. I went to several of the best hospitals across the country and went through years of surgeries, biopsies, MRIs, CT scans, and PET scans, and experimental medications because no one could figure out what was happening in my body. When you go through something like that, it is easy to lose hope and feel like you will never be yourself again.

But, finally during the summer of 2017, after being “sick” for almost 5 years, an experimental infusion medication started to help. I was able to lower my daily medications and the side effects started to subside. After years of hiding from the life I wanted, I found a hope and renewed strength to get back in control of my life and repair the damage that the medications had caused. But I knew I had to find help from someone who understood my journey, and respected the damage that my body had experienced. I’ve done the weight loss programs, regular monthly membership gyms, and Crossfit. But this time was different, I knew I needed something more. My joints and muscles had undergone a level of deterioration that was going to take time and patience to repair. 

Months before we found the most recent medication, and my life started to turn around, my best friend said, “When you’re ready, I would suggest you check out the gym I go to, Athletic Outcomes. Brittaney and Pat are great and I think they are just what you need.” We perused the website, read the bios, and talked about my friend’s experiences and what led her there. I filed it away and although I wasn’t ready at that time, I knew that when I was ready, I needed to meet Pat and Brittaney and see if they were the right place for me. In September of 2017, I emailed Brittaney and scheduled a face to face meeting.

What motivated you to start PT and tell us about your journey at AO? I knew going into it I would want to start with Personal Training. I knew I had a long road ahead of me and I needed someone there watching me, teaching me, encouraging me, and listening to me when something just didn’t feel right. Working with Brittaney has allowed us to tailor a program to my needs and focus on certain areas that needed extra care and consideration (for me, my knees incurred a lot of damage during my illness). We were able to discuss frequency of work outs, how I was recovering after each session, what I was doing at home to help (or hurt) my exercise. During sessions, I was able to tell Brittaney how things felt during each move, and she was right there to make adjustments and ensure my mechanics for each move were flawless. Prior to starting AO, I didn’t think I had the confidence or strength to go to classes. And, although it took a while, with the help of Brittaney, I was able to succeed in the class environment. The biggest hurdle I (and I am sure many people) had to overcome was my fear of failure. PT gave me the tools and confidence to go into a class setting and succeed. 

I no longer think of my “journey” as an end game. I am not trying to reach a goal weight or see an end to my time at AO. I might not be in the mood to work out every day, but I know that every day I walk into AO, I am making myself a better version of “me”. I can look back on the progress I have made in this past year and be proud of myself and the community I am a part of at AO. AO has not only improved my physical health, it has played a major part in the recovery of my mental health. Now I can see, it’s only the beginning.

Favorite exercise? Any variation of the deadlift. This is where I can lift the heaviest and pumps me full of adrenaline and pride. It reminds me how far I have come and motivates me to keep pushing.

Least favorite exercise? Honestly, whatever exercise is last!! Although wall sits, and push-ups are never fun. I just keep reminding myself that I can do more today than I did yesterday – so maybe I won’t hate them forever. 

What has been your biggest struggle? This has really changed for me over time. But I think that in general it boils down to the confidence I have in myself and finally believing and accepting that I am healthy and my life is mine again. When you deal with a chronic illness or life-changing injury, you lose hope that you can ever feel normal or in control again. 

What has been your proudest moment? I have so many but the one that made all the rest possible, was the day I decided to reach out to Athletic Outcomes and ask for help, and then walking through those doors, and then being vulnerable enough to open up to Brittaney and Pat about my story. 

Anytime I am able to recognize an improvement, I am proud. 

Right now, as I write, this blog post is my proudest moment. AO has changed my life, changed my perspective on health, helped me find my confidence, and reminded me how far I have come. In asking me to tell my story, in telling me that my story can make a difference and help someone else, I am reminded that success comes in all forms. AO is NOT a one size fits all facility.  At AO, your journey is about you. 

What motivates you still today? Almost every day I find motivation in something new. I remember how far I have come because a seemingly insignificant daily task is easier than it used to be. I choose to go to a social gathering that I was too embarrassed or nervous to go to in the past. I get a text from Brittaney asking how I am doing or telling me what a good session I had that day. I accomplish a new move that I couldn’t do before, or get in more reps than I ever thought was possible. Pat tells me that I am executing a move perfectly, or Kat tells another person in class to follow my lead because of my skill at the agility ladder. Sidney says “Wow” and tells me what a difference she has seen my overall strength and performance. I walk into AO and instantly feel like I am part of a community. AO staff are positive, engaged and committed to the success of the members because they believe in your ability to succeed. Even when you don’t believe in yourself. 

What advice can you give to someone who may be in the same position you were in before you started training?It’s never too late to start. It’s never as scary as it feels. Be willing to be vulnerable and tell your trainer what you are feeling and what you need. Your success is dependent on open communication and the program that you and your trainer develop together.