TJ's Gym Weekly News 09/12/2019
Message from TJ
I asked a long-time client and now friend, Tom, to write up a little something about how his chronic back pain has subsided through his work at the gym. I do this not to feed my ego, but to give hope and guidance to others suffering from back pain who might think there’s no hope. There usually is. This is long, but it’s worth reading.
“TJ, you have asked me to put in writing some history about my back issues that in some way might be of help to some of your clients. I think most of my history is typical of chronic back pain. Mine started when I was in high school. It seems several family members on my mother's side of the family have had identical issues starting with my mother, her sister and their younger brother. We all, I might add, have a hereditary additional vertebrae at the base of our spine. I am told this is not unusual although I am not sure at all that it has any bearing on back pain.
My first recollection of something serious was in high school. I had agreed to meet a few friends at our local park, Mendon Ponds. A rather rural location in upstate, way upstate New York near Rochester. For some reason, I did something while driving and simply could not get out of my car. It was serious and I had to wait until someone heard my honking horn to be rescued. Pretty scary.
Later when I was living and working in New York City as a 30 year old while working out at a local gym using a back pull-down machine I got up to drink some water from a fountain. These were the days when one would seatbelt themselves into the machine and pull down. Someone must have gone to the machine in my absence, change to higher weight and left. When I went back and did not check the weight, sat down and proceeded to pull down. I fractured three of my lower vertebra. Super painful and once again had to be delivered home in a cab this time. This one was bad. 6 months with a brace on my back during the New York summer months and three months of electric current treatments to stimulate the cartilage to build up in the fractures.
After that, my pain would come and go periodically. I continued to swim on a regular basis while in New York for 13 years, daily which seemed the safest exercise. When I moved back to California I did start to try jogging and weight lifting and finally spin classes. Still my back was sensitive. I remember sitting in a movie theatre the ‘wrong way’ for a couple of hours and having back pain for weeks after ward.
I think as I got older the muscles in my back got progressively weaker so if I did anything unusual the results would be periodic pain. In my late fifties and early sixties I really started to understand the things that I knew I should not/could not do, walking distances, stand on concrete for long periods of time. The best example of my adapting to this shortcoming was to spend shorter periods of time at museums. I have always enjoyed visiting museums and have done so all over the USA not to mention Europe but it was no longer possible to do this without first surveying the museums to see if benches existed in the galleries. If they did then I would simply look, rest, look, rest, and on and on.
So I would say about 10 years ago I really started to have daily chronic pain. I decided to go to Kaiser and they first prescribed Advil in large doses. This I did for quite a while, in fact until TJ I was probably taking 2 - 400 MG’s a day and if there was pain then 4. It never bothered my stomach as it does some people, but TJ assures me it was not really helping in the long run.
Then there was the oral Prednisone 9-day treatment, which I loved. I loved everything on those nine days but my doctor warned me, ‘you are going to enjoy this but don’t come back for more after the 9 days you are not going to get it’.
I should add here that, other than this back thing, I have no health issues whatsoever. No allergies, no skin issues, nothing to speak of. I have a yearly complete physical exam, but there is never anything to report.So I'm okay for a while after the Prednisone, months in fact. Then it happens again and I do the nine day thing again and it works for 9 days but not afterward. There is still a weakness there that causes pain. The doctor sent me to a back specialist at Kaiser who tells my that the next step for me is to have an epidural, and I agree. Its painful but it does work also for several months. I am not doing anything severe during this time exercise wise, just laying low but i continue to work, drive etc, no exercise to speak of other than walking my dog which is not so great. Another episode and another epidural. this time it really is painful, two shots in two different directions, one down and one up towards the area of swelling. I am in tears it is so bad. I am freezing so bad afterward from the pain they put me in a heated blanket. I swear I will never do that again. I go back to the doctor because the last shot really does not take and the tells me, ’surgery’. He also tells me don’t do anything, don’t turn left don't turn right don’t walk your dog. Well it's not going to happen that way for me. I will gain 70 pounds and die I think.
Two friends suggested that I see TJ. I called him and gave him a brief explanation, sent him my X-rays and detailed information from my doctor at Kaiser etc. We make a plan to meet. This is September of 2017.
TJ does his ’thing’. He tells me he can help if I listen to him and trust him. I kind of trust him. With a bad back, you are always slightly cautious about what you are doing and he tells me what he is going to have me do, different exercise etc. I agree to meet him every Friday which I do for over a year. It’s great. All I know is from that point on, I did everything he said including changes in my diet and I was religious about going the gym.
I think what TJ was able to do in my layman terms is strengthen the muscles all around my back so that, and again this is my imagination, all the weight/pressure was not directed to one area but was distributed equally. I built all of the muscle in my body through his guidance. I tell people he saved my life and I mean it in the sense that I simply do not have that reoccurring back pain any longer. Imagine 50 years of this crap and no longer. I will be 69 years old this coming November. Because of TJ I am in better shape than I ever have been in my life. One hour a day, five times a week.
I spent three hours at the art institute in Chicago in June. Last week rather than Uber from an appointment back to my studio, I walked from 2nd and Folsom to 5th and Bryant Street, something that I simply could not do three year ago, and I didn’t even think about it.
It's the exercise and the understanding of what your body needs for support, to stay active and agile. I simply could not have done this without TJ’s guidance and commitment and of course my own commitment and will be forever indebted to him and his ability.
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THE CROSSFIT OPEN 2020 + The TJ’s Rodeo
We’ve been getting loads of questions about how we will run the Open this year and about our annual gym competition, the TJ’s Rodeo. We are working behind the scenes and will have updates ASAP. We won’t be running the Open through the CrossFit Games website, so you are all registered just by being members. That means: NO EXCUSES! Get ready to participate on behalf of your gym in our super-friendly intra-gym competition!
More details to come on how to register! (Hopefully by early next week!)
For those who want to rock your home gym team spirit, you can order your shirt below, and it will be delivered to your gym of choice during the week of 10/07.
Thanks go out to Chris Ford, once again, for another great logo for this event!
mark your calendars for The Rodeo, which will be held on November 16th!
Same great format - new teams of 3! Get ready to meet more of your fellow TJ’s Gymers!
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HELP KIDS WITH CANCER AND GET LOCAL EXPOSURE FOR YOUR COMPANY OR BUSINESS THROUGH THE ST. JUDE WALK SAN FRANCISCO and a fundraiser close to our hearts!
Many of you know about our younger daughter, Hollis, and her long-term fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, called JUGGLING FOR JUDE. On September 28th, Hollis will be kicking off the St. Jude Walk event at the SF Zoo and will juggle her soccer ball throughout the 5K route. If anyone (kids or adults) would like to join her in the walk, please reach out! She is also seeking sponsors for her efforts, or even just small donations in support of childhood cancer. To find out more, or to donate, please go HERE. Thank you, as always, for keeping in your minds families fighting the unimaginable.
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