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The textbook definition of resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity or a crisis…once it’s over.  I got hung up on the second part: Once it’s over. Probably because we are in a crisis right now and it’s NOT over yet. Having said that, resilience can be tapped into during a crisis or in adversity too, in order to get through it in a solid way. Now’s as good a time as any to help our clients do that.

Types of Resilience

Some common types of resilience relevant to our industry:

Athletic Resilience: Overcoming injury, disappointment, sub-par team dynamics or coaching, poor performance, favoritism, experiencing a blowout loss, not making the team, getting cut from a team, being ‘benched,’ an upset loss, or on the hand, over-confidence or over-celebrating as a result of a big victory. Athletic resilience can also be used to avoid or get out of burn out, renewing reasons to play and/or be in sport, and address overtraining.

Now, think about Fit Pro Resilience: Waking up early, long breaks in the afternoon, re-starting in the evening, 12-15 hour days, wiggling in time to stay fit and train ourselves, managing business tasks, scheduling clients, maintaining equipment, overseeing staff or team, keeping up with education and taking CECs, standing by our clients, working with them and seeing them through to their goals.

Then there’s Client Resilience: Dealing with their Fit Pro multiple days a week! Just kidding. But seriously–give them credit for suiting up and showing up to sessions, letting you help them out. Sometimes they feel like they “fail” when they can’t do something the first time, but keep trying.

They also demonstrate resilience staying committed to training, making the decision to do things differently and following through with lifestyle changes, sweating, cursing, crying, sometimes even bleeding (whether it’s from breaking nails or scraping hands during tire flips), getting comfortable with being uncomfortable and ultimately reaching their goals.

It’s present even while facing ‘adversity.’ How can we tap into it NOW? How can we help our clients harness it NOW? During a pandemic and subsequent quarantines that are creating their own unique ramifications. Here are some thoughts:

Tell your resilience story to clients: Have you had to overcome an obstacle or challenge during quarantine? Or ever? How’d you do it? Sometimes, sharing our stories makes us more ‘human’ and inspires them. They may take the perspective that we’re naturally different at our core, where things come easy and we don’t ever struggle. Sharing a quarantine success story or any for that matter would be similar to sharing how or why you became a fit pro to begin with. It’s important to do it with a touch of humility and with the motivation to inspire, and to share only enough of it that you’re comfortable with them knowing.

CYST HAPPENS!

I have my own quarantine story about resilience. Guess what it’s about? About one week before my Arizona governor issued an executive shelter-in-place order, I grew an epidermoid sebaceous cyst on my lower back. These cysts grow under the skin and are usually caused by blocked glands or swollen hair follicles. They can vary in size and growth rate. Usually, they’re uncomfortable, annoying, and non-cancerous. They look like a lump under the skin and can grow almost anywhere in the body.

Essentially, a hair follicle gets trapped under the skin and a sac around it as a protective mechanism. Many people opt to monitor them with the guidance of their medical provider. Since these types of cysts are typically non-cancerous, removal is usually considered ‘elective.’ The decision to let the cyst stay or have it removed is made by the individual and their medical provider.

Sometimes, they end up being more than a nuisance! They can become infected and/or grow at a pretty rapid rate. Sometimes, they appear in very inconvenient areas where they’re prone to become agitated through brushing clothing or chafing and so on. Mine grew on the lower right side of my back, directly in the same line as my bra strap. Inconvenient location and high risk for irritation–check! As an athlete and Fit Pro, this got uber uncomfortable. Despite many attempts to work around it, the cyst got infected and grew exponentially to about 4 inches deep and had the diameter of a 1/2-dollar coin (1.5 inches). It, therefore, required immediate attention.

Shay's CystUnfortunately, because of quarantine, it was difficult to find a surgeon and a facility that was open and able to operate, especially since it’s typically an elective procedure.

I ended up needing to go see the surgeon for it to be lanced, drained, and then placed on antibiotics during this quarantine. Then, the skin around the area of infection got sensitive as a result of the infection. Once the skin healed up and enough of the infection was treated, I went back to the surgeon and it was removed. While there, I asked for another one on my left shoulder that was not infected to be removed too before it became a problem as well!

And that’s my Cyst Happens! story: two surgeries to remove two cysts during quarantine.

Because of quarantine, the aftercare was left to me alone. I propped up 4-6 mirrors and felt grateful for my flexibility to be able to do most of my own wound care. Usually, they use stitches that go outside of the body for this kind of cyst removal. But, in order to minimize trips to the office, the surgeon opted to use a cauterizer, internal sutures, and steri-strips to close the site of surgery once the cysts were removed.

The surgeon used this way of sealing the surgical site so that I wouldn’t need to come back to have stitches removed. The internal sutures would dissolve on their own and I was instructed how and when to remove the steri-strips. This method also allowed me to shower and to do my own aftercare, which was minimal. The biggest difficulty was that I had to be as still as possible for seven full days post-opp, because I didn’t have traditional stitches. I had to be very cautious to not move.

I wasn’t able to drive or raise my hand, so people showed up and dropped off food onto my patio. I was grateful they came! I messaged my friends, clients, contractors, and other responsible parties with ShayTheCoach notified them not to worry. They were all super supportive! I had a surgery that was pretty routine but nothing right now is routine. I told them I was on complete bed rest for seven days to allow proper healing.

As a fit pro and business owner, these seven days felt like a break! Albeit not one I’d ever wish on anyone or one that I’d prefer! But it was needed. Once I recovered from the surgery, I decided this was a story about resilience I could share with our NFPT community. I didn’t see it as that at the time, I just did what needed to be done and got through it.

The Benefits of Resilience

The biggest point to drive home is, in a non-quarantine situation, it wouldn’t have turned into such a process. During a nearly one-month timeframe, I had one visit to urgent care, one visit to the hospital, one round of antibiotics, one round of prescription antihistamine, one visit to the surgeon for lancing and draining of the infected cyst, and a second visit to the surgeon to have both cysts removed. Post-opp healing from the surgery was another seven days. And another two weeks later I’m just now starting to feel better!

In the meantime, my athletic body feels atrophied and I’ve thus far been unable to pivot my business to a virtual platform as many have. I’m on the mend now and in the process of doing of following suit, having the benefit of learning from those who’ve already implemented. I’ve got a bit of a frankenback with a couple intense scars but I’m recovered with the help of resilience.

Now to help your clients tap into their reserves of resilience.

Ask your clients to share their story of resilience. Everyone has one. In the time I’ve shared this story to my clients, fit pro’s, colleagues, and friends and family, I was amazed to experience how many people had their own version of a CYST HAPPENS story. Some were dealing with excessive call wait times to take care of routine business or finance items, some have parents who needed treatments for underlying conditions who haven’t been able to, some were dealing with how to stay in touch with their Fit Pro and keep on training to reach their goals. Meanwhile, my colleagues were facing the reality that their business/practice was deemed non-essential and how to handle it.  It’s been a lot!

It’s important when asking clients to share their story, that we follow a basic template:
What happened?
How did they handle it?
What were the results?

In this way, it remains positive and inspirational, result and solution-driven.

Share your story or client’s story on whatever virtual platform you’re using. This could be via a newsletter or YouTube Channel or as simple as a pow-wow before your virtual sessions. Other people could be struggling with their own version of a Cyst Happens! story and might gain some insight from how someone else got through a conundrum.

It’s always best practice to obtain consent from your client if you are sharing a personal story. The point is to highlight their victory! If a client is uneasy about this, you can also ask for permission to share the story, maintaining their anonymity. This will help spread positivity while giving your other clients ideas of how they can use resilience to support them right now.

Help your clients find reasons to stay engaged. Either talk to them or ask them to think about reasons why they can benefit from continuing to train during quarantine. Assign it as ‘homework’ the next time you give them a stretch or exercises to do between sessions. Or, if you do food journals with clients, ask them to write 1-2 reasons why now is as good as a time as any to keep training.

While I was face planted on my sofa for nearly 7 days protecting the wounds on my back, I was thinking how grateful and lucky I am that I was already fit and had a healthy lifestyle to help me through. I wondered what this could’ve been like had I not been on top of my well-being. Two surgeries during quarantine and needing to do my own post-opp wound care? How would someone in poor health have fared?

Cultivating Resilience

Situations like the one we’re in now, can be used and leveraged to tap into resilience. This is a skill set that can be nurtured and cultivated

Work with your clients to cultivate their resilience much in the same way we help them hypertrophy muscles or to lose weight. You wouldn’t expect a client to make strength gains or muscle size gains by simply ‘tapping’ into discipline and intention? This would be very much like psychological skills training.

1) Affirmations: Teach clients about affirmations and authentic personal mantras. Use them when clients are struggling. Ask them to anchor affirmations or put them somewhere they can be seen.

2) Visualization: If your clients are visual, have them visualize their results or even just visualize them in action, training. When I was bed-bound in recovery, I visualized myself doing and teaching T’ai Chi again, Karate Kata, and being reunited with my clients. I visualized doing things that bring me joy. It got me through and excited to get back in it once I was healed up. There are some techniques that help performance too.

3) Acceptance: This simply means coming to terms with not having things on your terms! I had to accept my lot with my cyst situation. I wasn’t in a position to do much but follow doctor’s orders. Rather than be angry about it, I just went with it. This takes practice and awareness, is easier said than done, but can be done!

One way to dig into acceptance is to push (when appropriate) your virtual clients to ‘leave it on the floor’ during training sessions. Leave what on the floor? IT—their frustrations, aggravations, temptations, etc. They can use the energy to train and to motivate, inspire, and move rather than implode, explode, or quit!

By utilizing some of these tips, you and your clients can tap into existing resilience and you can cultivate it because you never know when it’ll come in handy.


References:

Cleveland Clinic (n.d.). What is a sebaceous cyst? Retrieved from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14165-sebaceous-cysts

Figarelli, J. (2020), The history of modern-day fitness: Pioneers & eras. National Fitness Hall of Fame.

Jobling, A. (2020, April 20) Now is the time. Retrieved from: https://andrewjobling.com.au/now-is-the-perfect-time/