”Shaking after 5 push-ups was a great feeling”

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Shaking after 5 push-ups was a great feeling. It meant that I had made progress, but there was still a long way to go. Months before, I would have laughed at somebody completing just 5 push-ups, but circumstances had changed.

I tore my rotator cuff and fractured my humerus in late August, 2012. What followed over the course of the next ten months happened to change my life.

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Post surgery number 2. Also Happened to be on my 20th birthday.

As I was robbed of the opportunity to play college soccer, I felt lost. Running in the heat all summer and playing every day in preparation for the upcoming season meant nothing any more. After all, most of the reason I came to the US was to play soccer. I loved it, and lived for it. Looking back on childhood fondly, I can remember the hours and hours I used to play ‘world cup’ out on the streets with my friends. We would play after day as soon as we finished school, and would only finish when it got too dark for the goalkeeper to see the ball.

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Late August, 2012: One week prior to season ending injury

But all of this meant nothing when I couldn’t train and play for my college team. I felt like it wasn’t my place to celebrate as we went on to win game after game, eventually finding ourselves in a national semi-final.

My identity was ingrained in sports, and in soccer in particular. I was Kevin the footballer, and all my social media profile pictures reflected this belief.

Eventually, my passion for soccer faded, but was thankfully replaced by a passion to learn and help others. My classes became more interesting, my grades started to improve, and my interactions with others became more meaningful. I was starting to feel good again- everything is beginning to fall into place again.

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PSAC Conference champions (2012)

Eight months after my first surgery, and 5 months after my second, I completed 5 push-ups. It meant that I was making progress. But, to me it didn’t seem that way. Everyone else around me could do more than 5 push-ups, everyone else around me could bench press, everyone else around me could zip up their jacket without a second thought, but to me everything was a challenge.

The previous 8 months were filled with tests and challenges, but I became motivated to break them.

And that right there, is the purpose of this post. I know how it feels to not feel good, I know how it feels to think that you can’t do something, I know how it feels to think you can’t do one more rep, one more gym session, or one last sprint on the treadmill. I’ve been there- and while we perceive it to not be a great place, it means that you can still make progess.

With this change in mindset, it made all the difference. Soon after, I stumbled upon the quote ”our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Because this quote really stuck out, and meant a lot to me, I decided to get it tattooed in August, 2013.

I think this quote is particularly important within the gym setting. I see so many people ‘fail’ in the gym. They sign up for gym memberships, begin the latest well marketed diet, and somewhere along the path- stop due to lack of results. But it doesn’t have to stay this way. Try again, keep trying- just do something slightly different and make informed decisions in your fitness journey.

After almost 12 months of an identity crisis and soul searching, it was over. I then went on to play for Mercyhurst University in 2013 and 2014, before graduating as a certified strength and conditioning coach and as a certified personal trainer with a degree in exercise science in May, 2015.

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