Official Website of Sarah E. Rippel, BS, CPT, FMS

-33 Years Young!-


photo (6)Today is my birthday.  I can’t even begin to describe how happy I feel!  I have received so many “Happy Birthday!” wishes from friends old & new…near & far…online & in person!  I am truly blessed and despite a little bit of being “bummed out” yesterday and today (not at all because of turning another year older, but because of a few things going on in my life), i’m smiling! 🙂  

The picture above is of the birthday card my client Kay made for me!  When I opened it this morning and started reading, I was trying hard not to cry because it touched my heart.  The fact that i’m able to do what I do, and work with amazing clients…it’s something that I will never take for granted.  I have truly come so far in my life, and the most obvious change i’ve noticed in the past couple of years…even the past year, has been in my confidence.  I’ve probably talked about it before, but I didn’t grow up with the best confidence.  I was okay until age 12 or so, when we moved from Longview, Texas.  I completely shut down & became extremely perfectionistic.  I can honestly say that it took me until I was in the ballpark of 30 years old to really begin to gain confidence.  I’m not gonna lie – this lack of confidence crap caused me a ton of heartache, and put me in a lot of situations in which I wasn’t able to assert myself.  Lessons learned, though, so it’s all been worth it.  Really, though, it was roughly two years ago when I really begin to look inward & realize that this not believing in myself crap had to stop.  Even though I knew that I was extremely gifted, smart, and an excellent trainer, I held myself back, and it was ridiculous.  It’s crazy, but i’ve come leaps and bounds in the past 10 months.  September was Hurricane Gustav, and that stressful month of total chaos in Baton Rouge, no electricity, and poison ivy rash all over my body really had me at my wits end.  It’s kinda weird, but I really feel that this situation caused me to wake up and realize that I had been holding myself back from a ton of things, and by golly, it was about time I did ’em!

Being told that I have had a positive impact on a person’s life is the greatest compliment I can receive.  Life is great, because it really is true that the more you give, the more you get back.  I’m not referring to money, although I will say that as i’ve gained more confidence, my ability to be responsible with my finances has more than improved.  The “rewards” i’m referring to are those such as witnessing a client’s transformation, both inside and out, and feeling such an amazing sense of fulfillment in both their abilities as well as your own.  I love working with clients who “get it.”  Kay, the amazing rockstar-in-training who gave me the awesome card seen above, is one of those clients.  She doesn’t consider herself to be a full-fledged rockstar yet, but I still try and call her one!  

In a nutshell, she contacted me back in January after stumbling across my old Tripod website.  We emailed back and forth a few times and set up a consultation.  We sat down and talked about many things, and in the 14 years i’ve been training clients, i’ve never had anyone come to me with a list of goals, questions, etc!  Awesome!  Off the bat, I thought “she’s serious about this,” and the more we talked, the more I realized just how much Kay needed exercise in her life.  No, she didn’t need to lose tons of weight, nor did she have any health issues that needed to be addressed.  She’s married to a great guy & they have some good things going in in their life together.  The main reason I felt that being placed on a regular exercise program could impact her life?

It would prove to her that she could accomplish anything she set out to do.

Little by little, I have challenged Kay to “step outside her box” and try things that I knew would serve to build her up!  Initially, she was very apprehensive about injuring herself.  I kinda had to wear kid gloves for a while with her, but now she’s kicking some major butt!

In almost five months, we’ve gone from this:

“I am afraid I would be in the “challenging” category of clients! I am X years old (this month) and of course weigh more than ever in my life; I have never enjoyed exercise but know that for my future health I have to make changes. For me, I think part of that will require accountability.  But I would like to meet with a prospective trainer before making any decisions.”

To this:

“Yes, I will try!  I will rely on you to point out my “negative” comments until I catch on!  I do trust you.  I can’t imagine going to a gym and just being handed to a “trainer”! I felt like you were described throughout the JC Santana interview.”

To this:

“Just wanted to let you know how much even your written, e mailed support means to me.  not to mention the “gazillion”  % (my nieces word)  you give of yourself. that’s just what some of the testimonials say about you and it is so true. I really appreciate you.”

To this (exercising both on and off the RV while on a road trip!):

“We are back. Got in late monday night. Walked 10k plus steps wed., thurs. and friday at the car show. Got back to my routine yesterday morning (and it felt so good!). I put the old purple band in the motor home to have one in there. So after using the new one yesterday and this morning I am a little sore but a “feel good” sore!”

Kay’s transformation has been obvious to me, and it’s an ongoing thing.  She’s always been happy to see me, but she smiles bigger now when she answers the door to greet me.  She’s ready to go and warms-up on her own prior to my arrival.  For a while, I had her report to me with her food log via email every day.  She was diligent about this, even including things like a few Life Savers she’d eaten during church! 🙂  Gotta love that!  

You see, i’m the type of trainer who isn’t afraid to hold client’s hands more than most probably do, and then slowly let them test the waters on their own.  From time to time, i’ll encounter trainers who have the “my clients meet me to train hard and that’s it” mentality.  In my opinion, that’s just plain ridiculous, cold, and inhuman.  Heck, i’ve even encountered a jerk that claims he doesn’t train women because they don’t work hard enough.  Whatever.  He obviously hasn’t met a few of my female clients!

photo (4)

My "game plan" for today's session

Kay’s initial concern was her neck.  She’s had some issues with it, and is therefore very protective of it.  We’ve been working on many things, but her neck hasn’t given her any problems.  I feel this has been a big boost for her along the way.  Right now, we’re dealing with pesky piriformis issues.  Like many people, she has tight external rotators of the hip.  Her feet want to turn out, as expected of those with tight hip external rotators.  Her right foot turns out more than her left, and being the diligent student that she is, Kay has become extremely aware of controlling this.  I

This morning was all about different assessments.  I did some brainstorming prior to our session today.  I anticipated that the piriformis in question, which is the right side, could be linked to a decrease in thoracic mobility, most notably on the left side.

Sure enough, I was right.  I first had Kay perform a seated rotation with a dowel rod (actually a broom, lol) held across her upper arms, with arms crossed at chest.  Eyeballing this rotation, I couldn’t see a difference between left and right.  Then I had her extend her arms in front of her, palms together, and she repeated the rotations.  Definite difference between left and right, with less range of motion rotating to the left.  This supported my hypothesis AND also made her aware of the discrepancy, as she could tell she couldn’t move as well to the left.  Next, I had her perform what I call a 90/90 stretch, which is basically rotation from the “top down,” as some call it.  First, I had her perform five reps lying on her left side, bringing the right arm from the left across to the right.  I eyeballed the “end” position of each 2-second stretch, and had her repeat this on the right (with left arm).  BIG difference!  Out of curiousity, I measured the distance between her hand and the ground on each side.  The result?  Left arm was 24 inches from the ground, while right was 14!  I didn’t need numbers to prove the difference to me, but it drove the point home!  There is a definite difference in her ability to rotate to the left versus the right.  Her range of motion to the left is a lot less than to the right, and I believe this has a lot to do with her right hip being tight.  Again, that cross-body connection i’ve spoken about.

You see, in my opinion, every exercise you have a client perform is an assessment.  A trainer should be watching their clients move, not just utilize static posture and range of motion assessments as tools.  EXERCISES ARE TOOLS!  I can look at your posture and predict what may happen when you run, for example, but I would be an idiot to base my opinions solely on static assessments.  The human body is built to move!  As trainers, we are not only helping clients feel and look better…we are helping them MOVE BETTER!  

More updates on Kay’s progress in the future!

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18 responses

  1. You’re truly special Sarah.

    June 2, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    • Mike!
      Awww! 🙂
      Thank you! You just made me smile even bigger than I already have been!
      You keep doin’ your thang too, you’re special!!!!!!!
      Yours in Health,
      Sarah

      June 2, 2009 at 3:12 pm

  2. DDRdiva

    Beautiful post, and what a beautiful tribute. Hugs to both of you.

    June 2, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    • Thank you, Sue!
      KAY ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m so happy she came into my life! I am thankful for being able to help her as well as all of my other clients AND help out those of you online! Y’all motivate me!

      June 2, 2009 at 4:08 pm

  3. John Izzo

    Nice work. Happy B-Day Sara. Keep inspiring and it comes back three-fold.

    June 2, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    • Hey John!
      Thank you! I think we’re the luckiest people in the world, ya know? I mean, we get to help people GROW and improve AND we have a blast doing it! 🙂 Best job in the world!
      I’m gonna celebrate with margaritas tonite!
      Yours in Health,
      Sarah
      PS – I need to get around to reading your Cressey interview…it’s on my to-do list! 😀

      June 2, 2009 at 4:10 pm

  4. Great post! Kay is lucky to have found such a caring, knowledgeable, responsible trainer! You’re a credit to the profession, young lady!!

    Hope you’re enjoying the heck out of those margaritas tonight–you deserve every one of them!!

    June 2, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    • Thanks, Laura! 🙂
      Margarita (BIG one) was yummy! Was responsible tho! Can’t be hungover and torture my victims!

      June 3, 2009 at 7:35 am

  5. Your clients should be very fortunate to have you as their trainer – It’s obvious from your writing and from your contributions to the trainers’ forums that you’re always going the extra mile for them –

    Folks, if this were my trainer, I’d hold on for dear life to keep her –

    Happy Birthday Sarah!

    June 2, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    • Awwww, Doug!
      Thank you! 😀

      June 3, 2009 at 7:36 am

  6. Debbie

    Very inspirational post Sarah. I always feel special the whole month of my birthday because it’s almost the last day of the year. I think it’s a good time to look back, count your blessings and see how far you’ve come.

    I like reading your posts because you have such an attitude of gratitude. Keep it up and have a lovely Birthday (month)!

    June 2, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    • Thank you, Debbie!
      Great point about birthdays! I think back to my bday last year and it’s obvious that i’ve come a long way since then! Personal growth is AMAZING!

      June 3, 2009 at 7:38 am

  7. JMJ

    Happy Birthday Sarah! Hope you have a great one! And great job Kay. It really is a great feeing when your client “gets it.”

    June 2, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    • Hey Jason!
      Long time no talk!
      Shoot me an email and update me on how things are going!
      Kay deserves the credit – she’s amazing! 🙂

      June 3, 2009 at 7:39 am

  8. Posts like this remind me how much I miss Don. My Personal Trainer. He was a big box guy, got a lot of the didn’t want to really work groups. He came in to my workout with that attitude the first time.

    The trainer that demo’d me said he was in for an interesting client, but wouldn’t explain why.

    When I was soaked with sweat, bent halfway over, and way out of breath, at the end of an hour and looked up at him and asked “Is that it?” His response was yep, go rest up. I looked back at him funny and said flatly, “I’ve got an how of pool time before I can rest.”

    He didn’t know what to do. He pushed me hard, and as a result, his other clients got pushed harder.

    He’s also the reason I love kettlebells, and don’t have a limp 99% of the time.

    June 2, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    • Hey Chris!
      I love this! You’re the type of person we trainers LOVE to work with! To be honest, you can only tolerate so much “do I have to do that?” and whining, lol! Kudos to you for having an awesome work ethic and i’m happy you were paired up with a great trainer!
      Yours in Health,
      Sarah

      June 3, 2009 at 7:40 am

  9. Great blog. I really enjoyed it.

    June 3, 2009 at 6:59 am

    • Hey Jessica!
      Thank you! 🙂

      June 3, 2009 at 7:40 am

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