Member Of The Month: Byron

Published on Tuesday, 31 October 2023 at 8:50:10 AM

Our October Member of the Month is Byron – a recent member who’s been training with PT Yvi to manage chronic pain.

We spoke to Byron to see how he’s feeling three months into his program.

Tell us about yourself, Byron?

I’m 45 and live in South Perth. About two years ago I started to get some really bad back pain which I thought was part of ageing and my job. I have an Antiquities business and used to lift a lot of heavy furniture. I was spending six months a year in the south of France and emptying antiques out of chateaus – and every night, munching half a packet of Panadol or Ibuprofen and rubbing creams to deal with the pain – I thought it was just part of the job. It just kept getting worse and worse to the point where I’d pick up a piece of furniture and I’d have to lie down for four days.

So I went to the doctor and we started doing scans. I got diagnosed with spondylosis, which is basically osteoarthritis of the spine, a degenerative disease. My discs have degenerated and I’ve got bone spurs on my vertebrae, so everything is crunching and grinding back there.

The pain got so bad about 11 months ago – I couldn’t even walk. I literally needed to have someone help me do basic things, like go to the bathroom. My surgeon and pain specialists had me on all sorts of weird and wonderful drugs, just to numb the pain.

Why did you decide to prioritise exercise?

I had a chat with the surgeon and pain specialists and told them that I couldn’t do the medication anymore, it wasn’t working for me. They both suggested exercise physiology. I got some NDIS funding to do that, but it’s still really expensive – it’s triple the price of a personal trainer.

I did that for a while and exhausted all of my funding, then I got another round of funding and sought permission to have the same programme delivered by a personal trainer and get three times the value.

Luckily my Ex-Phys and OT saw the logic in that and signed off on it.

My PT Yvi has been really cognisant of all of my problems. She watches my form more than anything else. Rather than working on heavy weights, it’s rehab – like, let’s look at your form, your technique, and once you’ve got that right, then we’ll put some weight on it.

How has your day-to-day life improved?

Firstly, it’s dignity. As I said, 11 months ago I went through a period where I couldn’t walk, and if I did it was really basic stuff. I didn’t leave the house much, and if I did, it was just to pick up my daughter from school and bring her home. Two years ago, my daughter came home with a Father’s Day card. All the other Dads would get cards, you know, kicking a footy, or playing golf… in mine, I was in bed. She drew a picture of me in bed.

Now, I don’t need to have someone come to the house every day and help with the dishes and the laundry any more. That started improving with the exercise physiology. I can get up and do things. I still have a base level of pain and I always will, but instead of it being an 8 or a 9, which it used to be when I was debilitated and in bed all the time, it’s a 2 or a 3. I’m sitting here and I’m in a bit of pain, but it’s nothing compared to what it was. Last year I couldn’t even go to a restaurant or drive for more than an hour. I couldn’t sit and have a meal with friends and family. 60 minutes was my max.

Before I started training with Yvi, I couldn’t even get vegetables out of the crisper. I couldn’t get pots off the bottom shelf. I’ve been training with Yvi for 3 months – I’m not cured and I never will be, but my range of motion has certainly improved. But I tell you what, if I stopped doing this for a month I’d be back to square one. It’s a constant, every day thing. This is my medication, in a sense. I have not had painkillers in more than 3 months.

I’ve not lost any weight; I’ve actually gained 6kg of muscle and lost 6kg of body fat, and lost 5cm around the waist in 12 weeks.

What do you enjoy about training with Yvi?

Yvi’s really put a wing around me, which has been nice.

It’s all around technique. If I was to come here by myself, I’d probably be one of those guys that sit in front of the mirror and do the vanity curl and get these really swole arms and the rest of me would be flabby. And I’d be in agony! I’d be lifting big heavy weights and doing the wrong things, with the wrong technique – I’ve done that before and it only makes my back worse.

So even now, just with the lifting techniques that Yvi’s been teaching me, I can apply that in day to day life.

It’s all over fitness as well – we haven’t been focusing on one thing, we do something different every day. My whole body is stronger.

So thank you to Yvi. Yvi has really gone out of her way to make sure that I haven’t gotten injured and that I’m developing strength rather than going hell for leather. I’m here five days a week now.

What advice do you have for people in a similar situation to yourself?

Just do it. Persevere. It’s not like something you can learn by reading, it’s like learning a musical instrument – you’ve got to keep practicing. You’ve got to just keep going and doing it every day and it gets easier and you get better at it. Don’t give up.

And use the scan machine (EVOLT 360) rather than the scales – look at the compositional changes rather than the weight.

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