Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 23 - Debbie Booth - WATER IS THE NEW GYM - Part 2 of 3

Yeah, I was just thinking about since you're helping people that have, for whatever reason a lot of I guess mobility limitation, for one reason or another, like if there's any good examples that come to mind of kind of like, big turn around stories or people that really inspired you how and it worked out.

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JESSE: Yeah, I was just thinking about since you're helping people that have, for whatever reason a lot of I guess mobility limitation, for one reason or another, like if there's any good examples that come to mind of kind of like, big turn around stories or people that really inspired you how and it worked out. I guess I think about my own grandfather who passed away last year and he had mobility issues with just one of his legs. He'd get around but it was tough.

And I'm not sure exactly what was his problem. I know it was like a lifelong thing for him. But then it makes me wonder if he'd have you to help him, could it have been better or-- And he needed help from my grandmother to get around just the house before he passed in. So, I know from at least my own personal imagination of that scenario, how impactful that could be. So, I'm just curious if you have any stories you could share of situations like that.

DEBBIE: So, I have a couple that-- I have two specific that comes to mind right now two in the water and one on land actually because I also do just land training for people. So, anyways a woman came to me after bariatric surgery. She came into my class, walked into my class, introduce myself, talk to her, she burst into tears. This happens all the time. Turns out, like I said, she had bariatric surgery, struggling to recover from that. She had the bariatric surgery [??? 1:42]

JESSE: I lost you for a minute Debbie. Can you go back like a phrase or two?

DEBBIE: Okay. So, I have a woman, her name is Suzanne and she came to me after bariatric surgery. She came into one of my group classes and just kind of fell apart at me. So, I got her whole history. What had happened was her bariatric surgery happened because she actually shattered her femur. Not long before that she fell down an embankment and paramedics could not get her off the embankment because of her weight. And she couldn't assist them because of the severity of the shatter.

And she was excruciating pain. So, she had surgery, they put her bag together and they put her in rehab center. So, now she's surrounded by people, much, much older than her. So, she was 60 at the time. So, anyways, bariatric surgery, she's with me, she wants to start swimming again, she used to be a swimmer. Her goal was to be a lifeguard where I worked.

So, I'm like all right, let's do it. Then we work together, work together, work together. Got has swimming, she got her leg [??? like 3:06] did that, went on, just and I'll cut that story super short, she just went on to compete in her first Master's swim events. six swimming events just in August.

JESSE: That's great.

DEBBIE: Pretty awesome. So, yeah, she's one of them. Another, I have a gentleman and he's had three strokes and had a hip replacement, knee replacement, he's a retired Major League Baseball umpire. He actually broke - on the field, he has major visual disturbances and terrible, terrible vertigo. So, he came to me out of therapy, he could not, they call it cornering. He couldn't walk around a corner. If he went to turn a corner he would fall over and they were worried about him breaking another hip. So, he was dependent on a walker, he could not drive.

JESSE: So, do you know what causes that? Like, what-- [rosstalk] Right, that he couldn't...was it just a sense of balance or?

DEBBIE: Yeah, it was balance and his visual disturbances and vertigo. So, it's a combination of a lot of things, medications were a lot of it. So, he wasn't safe, like he wasn't safe to drive and he wanted to drive. That was his goal. He wanted to be able to go back to a baseball game with his umpire buddies and watch the game, go to a University of Michigan football game, that was his goal. His goal was to be able to play with his grandchildren. So, it was simple goals. So, he did not want to get in the water and let me tell you, he wouldn't talk to me at first. He was forced but he was one of these, so the cognitive problems from a stroke were very, very evident. His skin was ashen. He was in bad, bad, bad shape.

So, we got him driving, we got him being able to walk up and down stairs, balance. We would play basketball in the water, eye hand coordination...did a lot of strengthening and stamina and endurance, he had no endurance. When he first came to me, it was a struggle for him to tell me a story. He would just trail off. Now he's like [??? 5:34]. But he drives, he's able to stay home alone. It's super, super cool what he can do now. Go to baseball games, have a life, go up north to their cabin, so there probably my two most extreme stories.

JESSE: So, the end of that kind of made me think about, there's always a debate between like, are we our minds, are we something else? Are we our body and the whole mind body connection? So, do you see that often? I mean, obviously, you talked about the increased blood circulation helping cognitive behavior or improvement, I guess. Do you see that mind body connection more directly with the people you work with?

DEBBIE: I see it a lot. And what I see the first thing that - is depression. So, once they get in the water, especially if they've been inactive for any period of time, the first thing that happens is most of their medications, I have to send them back to the factory to get their medications adjusted, because that circulation changes out a lot of the level of meds they need to be on, especially for working on endurance and stamina.

So, blood pressure medications come down, cholesterol medications typically come down, pain medications come down. So, that all of the side effects of his medications varied for a lot of people, but when you reduce the medication, you reduce the side effects. So, their world opens up and then I do crazy things like I have three guys right now with neck fusion [??? 7:23] totals and one personal fusion. And I make sure they come to me kind of back to back.

So, I'll have one at one o'clock, one at two o'clock, one at three o'clock, or I overlap them, so they become friends. Because these people all feel alone.

So, I connect them so they now have a buddy and then they start coming at the same time. Well, you don't mind if I come when so and so is here? No, I don't mind, come. Because they feel alone. Some of the population I work with live alone and they've got nobody so that's my other-- I have a number of roles, fitness, psychology, I'm their sounding board.

But it's cool because I see people connect...environment, they connect and make friendships and keep coming. And my thing is adherence, they can always rely on me, right? I want them to remain independent. I want them to form friendships and live a full life, not just worry about that knee replacement, that hip that fall, they're worried about falling. Well, come on, let's get you back into balance and move on. Go on that trip to Paris, go do whatever is on your bucket list, do it. What do we need to do? What's our goals today?

JESSE: Right. Yeah.

DEBBIE: [unclear] Let me turn this light on by the way.

JESSE: You can. It keeps getting slightly darker where I am as well because there's a thunderstorm rolling in just a little bit at a time.

DEBBIE: There, is that better? [??? 9:17]

JESSE: It's a little different.

DEBBIE: I don't know-- [crosstalk]

JESSE: It's okay.

DEBBIE: ...doesn't matter.

JESSE: It's fine either way.

DEBBIE: But yeah, so it's an interesting place where I am, that one.

JESSE: Yeah, I mean, I know that, like I have a coach for, I do triathlon predominantly, although we're kind of thinking about some different goals for this year moving on, but I know that throughout my kind of sporting career like my coach has been my confidant because much like you see all of your clients go through the struggles, there's a very, I don't know if - is the right word but an unfiltered amount of struggling that goes on, be it through rehabilitation or through just normal, athletic endeavor. I went through a little bit of rehabilitation myself after I shattered my collarbone in a race last year, so--


JESSE: Yeah, yeah. Well, ouch kind of. I hit the pavement. By the time I got in the ambulance, the adrenaline was starting to wear off. And fortunately, before the pain really started to set in, then I was on pain medication. So, I didn't get a whole lot of that, at least the initial shock because of the response. But yeah, so it's cool to see you kind of play, I'll say matchmaker with friendships. Because I know I see, even people my age being like, how do I make friends as an adult? When you're in school, you're kind of forced into this group and you make friends but then once you're out here, now what?

DEBBIE: Right, right. What I've realized over time is that I've always connected people, always. I'm like oh wait, you should meet them because they have this in common with you. And what I see in this population I work with is a lot of fear, fear of, I'm never going to recover from this. Fear of, oh my gosh, I'm unsteady on the stairs and I'm afraid I'm gonna fall. So, I'm going to move and they make these drastic decisions. So, a lot of it is fear driven. And then once they're around somebody else that has experienced it, who's positive...try not to connect negative to negative. And then they work through it and they realize hey, they're not alone in their thinking, how they're living, what their fears are, and B, they can together with somebody else needs maybe have a have a workout buddy.

I know - better if I have my girlfriend call me - are you going to work out at 5:30 in the morning, oh man, I've had a week. All right, fine. And I go. If I'm left to my own, I'm going to hit that snooze 15 more minutes sometimes because I'm tired. You know, our training world is exhausting. But I need to take care of me too. But sometimes trainers need accountability people and I tell my people that they may look at me like I'm crazy. Like, well, you think we're any different than anybody else? Or not? I still have laundry to do and groceries to buy and I still have to stay in my life, and I need my people to keep me. So, I try to set them up where they have support.

JESSE: Yeah. I think sometimes there's a little bit of difference between like say hyperactive people and I don't mean hyperactive in terms of like they're bouncing off the walls, but I mean, like somebody who can work out 20 hours a week like a professional athlete compared to like, a normal person, but I think the vast majority of active people have built a habit. It's not that they're like, fundamentally different people. It's that they got through those initial stages of like, I don't like this or whatever, found some kind of joy, that's why I often find that the people I talked to they say, I do it because I like it. And then getting to the point where it's like, okay, well, this is a habit now or this is part of who I am, and it just perpetuates itself.

DEBBIE: Right. Right. And that's the habit that I try to get people involved in. I have a woman in my classes, she started several years ago, I'm trying to get her to be an instructor and she's 70 and she could instruct. And she came into my class and told me how much she hated exercise. Nothing wrong with her. She's perfectly able body.

She just worked behind a desk at home. She was an editor in her own home, she needed to get out. She needed exercise or she was going to end up on medications. And she wasn't really overweight. She did need to lose a few pounds, nothing major.

But she came to me and said, I hate exercise. You need to understand I hate it. I said, okay, well, let's go. And she works out five days a week, minimum. She wants her class how she wants it. She's really funny. Well, I think you should do this and this and this. This is why I want her to be an instructor. But she's somebody who never exercised in her life and hates doing it on land. And she loves aquatic exercise.

And she came to me not too many months after she started because she found her bicep. Look at, look at I have a bicep now. We celebrated her success, she found the bicep. So, it's like the gamut of I see the gamut of things, but everybody's success to be celebrated.

JESSE: Yeah, and I feel like to me this is a truism in my own life and we'll see what you think about it. But I always say, not everybody can be-- I often talk to some very competitive athletes, I've talked to professional athletes, high level amateurs, not everybody can be World Champion, right? That's what makes it special. But I think about in terms of our own personal attitudes, progress is happiness.

DEBBIE: Right.

JESSE: So, I know if you feel the same way about that.

DEBBIE: I do and I tell people all the time because they want to go from zero to 60. Okay. Well, you were born, did you walk? How long before you walked? What did you have to do to get there? You want to learn to type, how long is that going to take? Think about how long it takes to learn those thing. This is not going to happen overnight. It's little bits consistently, focus. And sometimes maybe you're going to work out and it's not going to be focused. But it's consistent movement in the right direction, right, surround yourself to the people that are going in your direction, and just keep moving forward. You will get there. And you will keep your life, you'll be able to fly off and see whoever you want to see and travel and pick up a grandkid or play golf or ride your bike.

I have a lady that now is in hip surgery right now, two years ago, she's in her 80's she was sliding off a slide [??? 17:10]. And she was body surfing in the ocean¦80. I've another lady right now, she's 89 learning to swim, re-learning to actually swim stroke. She wants to do it. It's on her bucket list. All right, well, let's go and see. ...she can't hear me, but she's a great visual learner. So, she's learning, her buoyancy is completely different now. She's 89 years old, you know, she said, I swam great when I was 60. Okay, well, there's couple years. Couple years ago - but we'll figure it out and we have. And her again, her wall right now is fear. So, I gotta drag her out into the deep end of the pool and get her over that and she-- [crosstalk]

JESSE: Yeah, assure it's gonna be okay and everything will be fine.

DEBBIE: Yeah, but she has to trust me first.

JESSE: Yeah.

DEBBIE: She's gotta let go of that first. So, it's interesting, it's so rewarding though because every day she comes she leaves walking a lot taller. Look at me, I did that.

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