My 6 Year Old Never Wants To Leave The House Hard Core Training Has New Meaning to Me

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Hard Core Training Has New Meaning to Me

When I was 13 years old, a family friend gave me a box of bodybuilding magazines. I never thought that the man who inspired me so much, Arnold Schwarzenegger, would one day be the governor of California.

I participated in my first bodybuilding competition in 1984, at the age of 16. Since then, I have competed in about 40 shows and won titles such as Mr. Philadelphia, Mr. Pennsylvania , Mr. Physique USA, and in 1993, Mr. . North America.

I was at the top of my game, getting ready to go pro, when my body started giving me problems. In 1994-95, I had problems with my balance and leg strength. I was working out with my friend one day and I told him that I had looked on the internet and thought I might have Multiple Sclerosis.

He laughed and said, “Paul, you don’t have MS, you just lost 550 pounds!” So I laughed it off too; I had no way of MS. In the back of my mind, however, I realized I was spitting on Smith’s device; I didn’t have to balance myself.

As my health continued to decline, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1997. I was still going to compete, a year later, but I lost my vision. This caused me to fall into a deep depression, and with MS, this also caused a lot of stress. Because I felt so lousy, I asked the doctor to put me on anti-depressants, sleeping pills, and medications for my muscle spasms. The drugs just made me more tired and depressed, and my MS progressed to where I had to be in a wheelchair.

I sat in my wheelchair for a long time, feeling sorry for myself. I then met my future wife, Judy, and she told me I had to accept my MS. I told her I didn’t want to and that I hated it, but she explained that I needed to do something besides feeling down. I wasn’t sure if I could, because the doctors told me I had primary progressive MS. That is the worst kind; you are not getting better.

I decided not to believe the doctors, and went back to the gym to start exercising. I found out which muscles are most affected by MS – the core muscles (abs, hip, and back muscles). When these become weak, it is like a flower with a weak stem that falls over when the wind blows. That was me, and that’s why people with MS are always looking for something to help them balance. I also learned about core muscles by watching my son, Tyler. When he was only 7 months old he had the leg strength to push himself up to stand, but I had to hold him until he could balance. When he was 11 months old, he always used the bed to support himself while walking – as I had to do. Then, I realized that the core muscles for a baby are the last to develop, and in a person with MS, or other neurological diseases, they are the first to go. Before he could walk, Tyler would balance on his knees. I thought, “What a great way to exercise; do it from your knees and challenge your balance. You don’t have to worry about falling!” I also found that by waking up new muscles, I could stabilize and walk better.

The average person activates about 60-70% of their muscles throughout their life, a bodybuilder about 75% (they’re just a lot bigger), but a dancer or gymnast activates about 90% or more. I said to myself, “Wow! If I could tap into those muscles, it would be like having an extra tire on your car.” So the way I did this was by challenging balance using a Swiss ball, or standing on air cushions. Both strengthen the heart.

In 2001, I moved to California. When I went back to the gyms, I realized how difficult they are for a person in a wheelchair. Sure, the bathrooms and parking may be accessible, but the equipment rarely is. I applied for a job at Club-One, even though they didn’t have wheelchair equipment. When I told the manager about my mission to help the disabled community, he was very happy. That’s why I decided I wanted to work there.

During my interview, the fitness manager asked if I knew what core training was. At the time I didn’t know much about it so I tried to joke, “Yeah, hard training. I’ve been doing it for 20 years.” She didn’t laugh, but at least I got the job.

I started training people with disabilities, but I realized that not many physically challenged people came to the gym because the equipment was not accessible. I decided to do something about this, and in 2002, my wife and I opened Accessible Fitness, a fully wheelchair accessible gym in Santa Clara, California. We specialize in working with people of all ages and fitness levels, and not only are all strength stations wheelchair accessible, but so is the cardiovascular equipment.

Now I help people young and old to get in shape, lose weight, get six pack abs and others want more strength and muscle so they can move more easily out of the they have a wheelchair.

“My life is different now because I feel that through exercise, I have regained control of my life and I don’t have to go into this thing they call MS. has some sort of physical challenge.”

I am no longer in a wheelchair and I will be competing this year in the Mr. America competition. Even if I have to use my cane, I’m there, win or lose, to represent physically challenged people like me.

For a long time I asked myself, “Why me?” But then I realized that this is my calling, my passion in life.

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