For Justin, fitness is LIFE! This is his story…
“My fitness journey began in 2007 when I herniated the L5S1 disc in my spine, in a work place accident, that required surgery and the removal of 95% of the disc.
Post-surgery I was left with constant sciatic pain due to my vertebrae rubbing on exposed nerves, which made my back very sore all the way down to my buttocks. My tall height created a greater gravitational pull on my spine, which added even more pressure and strain to this already uncomfortable area.
My specialist created a program for me to help manage the pain. I worked with a trainer who ensured I took things very slow in the beginning. My physical rehabilitation taught me how to do exercises and stretches to reduce discomfort by taking pressure off my back and spine.
My workouts now include weight training, calisthenics, HIIT and bodyweight activities followed by thorough stretching. I’ve seen my core strength improve significantly, which helps with the back pain most days. Pain is a powerful agent and when I don't stretch or workout, the pain becomes almost sickening – so it keeps me going back to the gym.
I’ve been working out 5 days a week for the last 14 years now, and it has not only improved my cardiovascular health, sciatic pain and back muscle fatigue, but it has given me a sense of purpose in the improvement of my body. The benefits from my active lifestyle go beyond just physical, as my mind is another hurdle that tests me every second of every day. I have been diagnosed with multiple mental health disorders that are exacerbated by the existence of pain and discomfort. When I go to the gym to manage the physical discomfort, it keeps my mental health disorders in check as well.
Physical and mental pain can be very distracting when you are trying to focus on doing your exercises correctly, so listening to music has become another key element in my workouts. Over the years I've made friendships with people I've met in the gym, and it’s these friendships have helped me find the motivation to not give up on a pain free existence one day, and to keep working for it.
My advice to anyone just starting out in the gym is that you are never too proficient to NOT learn anything new about fitness. I am proud of everything I’ve learned and that I never quit, even in the face of immense, brutal nerve and muscle pain. For me, fitness is LIFE.”