Hello, my name is Cassandra Darling. I am an outgoing, hardworking, determined, optimistic type of girl. I would not have described myself as athletic, super fit or very strong. However, these are words that people have been using to describe me the closer I get to the end of the 60-Day Challenge and it makes me smile from ear to ear. Before April of 2017, I had never lifted weights in my life or had any knowledge of how to use most of the gym equipment Life Time has to offer.
I joined Life Time one year after I was in a severe car accident. I was out of town attending an award ceremony. It was an exciting night because as an Event Director I rarely actually attend events – I’m usually behind the scenes. So it was fun to dress up and enjoy the night as a guest. I thought I would remember this night only positively because I won an award for an event I had produced. Unfortunately, on the way back to the hotel, our car was rear ended by a vehicle going almost 80mph when we were sitting at a red light. I was in the back seat of the car so when the trunk of the car was smashed into my seat, my back took all the impact. I was taken away from the scene in a stretcher to trauma and stayed overnight.
I went through months of physical therapy, massage therapy, chiropractor appointments, as well as bone and joint specialists. It was exhausting to be running around to multiple doctor appointments a week when I already felt weak and in pain. The accident left my hips and spine unaligned giving me headaches, hurt muscles, strains and pinched nerves. I limped or was hunched over in pain on and off for that year. I had steroid injections and sacroiliac joint injections regularly. The joint injections were not only painful, but also affected my body negatively in many other ways. I was gaining weight, feeling overly emotional and depressed from the medicine, depleted of energy and no longer felt like myself in any way.
After my third sacroiliac joint injection I had an anxiety attack where I crawled into the corner of my closet and sobbed for a couple hours barely able to breathe. So I asked my doctor, “It’s been a year, what else can I do? These shots make me feel horrible and I don’t want to do them anymore.” I was begging for an alternative to the lifestyle that was running me down. The answer from the doctor was that the next step would be to cut the nerves in my back so that I no longer felt the pinch nerve pain on a daily basis.
I didn’t accept this answer. There was no way I was about to start back surgeries. I talked with other physicians and did research myself on what else I could do. I had been in months of physical therapy and I was approved to be able to start swimming. I decided to join Life Time at Easton. The gym had an amazing lap pool and was located on my route home from work.
Rob Crump was my onboarding manager. I was extremely anxious to talk about my accident and what I was going through. Rob listened and offered me advice and confidently told me that we could work through the pain and strengthen my body. I told him I would give him one month of personal training to prove this to me…then one turned into two…and two turned into three…then my body began feeling stronger and more in control of managing my pain. I strongly recommend working with a personal trainer. Life Time offered the professional help that I needed to begin a lifelong pursuit of fitness even with an injured body. I am so blessed I was onboarded with Rob because he has a strong background in injury assessment and really knew how to work with my injuries and strengthen my muscles that were the most damaged and weakest. He trained me and really cared about my progress.
I went into the gym to avoid back surgery. But then, I started training and really getting into it. Not only did working out make me feel better with my injuries but also I would get super excited to learn new techniques and try new equipment. The 60-Day Challenge was exactly what I needed to set health goals for myself to conquer.
I remember the first time that Rob brought me to a platform, I waved my hand at him with a bunch of sass and said, “This isn’t my thing…” and he replied, “It will be.” He was right. The 60-Day Challenge has changed my life. The challenge has made me strong, made me fit, rebuilt my confidence and most importantly: brought healing to my body.