“Looking down at my feet and seeing socks I’d put on and sneakers I’d tied myself was a very emotional experience.”
When Dale Fishner returned to the gym following hip and kneecap replacement surgeries, he says, “The pool seemed logical to me, so I would walk for an hour in the pool five days a week at the 24 Hour Fitness Plantation (Florida) club.”
But Fitness Manager Jesse Rodriguez knew he was capable of more. Rodriguez remembered Fishner from another 24 Hour Fitness location. “I knew what Dale was capable of, and I knew the right coach to help him get on track” to reach his recovery goals and beyond.
Enter the squad
Rodriguez introduced Fishner to Fitness Coach Tomasz (Tom) Zawislan. With Zawislan, Fishner discovered that mobility and flexibility were his key areas for focus. He began training two days a week with Zawislan, who has worked with him on movements Fishner can practice on his own in the pool to improve his functional fitness for everyday activities such as getting in and out of a car, kneeling and getting up, and putting on socks and tying shoes. “That was the point where everything changed,” Fishner says.
Zawislan says Fishner is one of the most dedicated and goal-oriented clients he’s had in his 20 years of training. “Dale has rarely missed a training session and always gives 110 percent when he is training with me or by himself in the pool. He’s already reached some of the short-term goals we set at the beginning of his fitness program.”
Fishner describes himself as motivated, but he says his success is thanks to the support he receives from his club team. “There’s a community,” he explains, “From the time you open the door and they greet you by your name, to telling you to have a nice day when you leave, to the managers who are approachable on the gym floor. Everyone tries to make the experience a little bit better.”
General Manager Evan Grossman makes a point of making people feel comfortable by introducing the entire team. “It makes everyone feel more like a family,” he explains. In fact, Fishner says, “Evan, Jessie and Tom are kind of my cheering squad, and they encourage me to do better. I am hardest on myself and always will be, so it’s great to have a built-in cheering section.”
Grossman says the sense of family works both ways: “Dale taught us everyone has a personal goal no matter how big or small, and they should all be celebrated.”
The power to uplift
For Fishner, the mundane task of putting on socks and tying shoes was a milestone. No longer in pain after his surgeries, he says that mobility restrictions made this daily activity a major one. “I just could not do it,” he says. “I spoke with Tom about wanting to do this and I wasn’t sure how it would fit into what we were doing. Tom started working with me on exercises that would help me achieve this goal.”
The future holds possibilities that Fishner hadn’t imagined—at all. “Who would have thought I’d get help with this at a gym? It makes me wonder what else I might be able to do. I never expected I’d be at the gym five or six days a week. I’ve made some serious lifestyle changes with the food I eat and how I look at myself.”
Now, Fishner is a core part of the community that he feels saved him from the “spiral downward” that threatened his health during the pandemic. He’s noticed another member trying some of the same movements he’s learned to do in the pool, and he tells us, “Members who I don’t even know come up to me and make positive comments to me, and that helps spur me on to want to do better. To me it is all about this gym. I was shown a different way to live. I can tell you I am much happier and better for it.”
Results not typical and may vary per individual. Please consult a physician before starting or changing a fitness routine. Personal training and virtual personal training available to 24 Hour Fitness members for an additional fee.
Photo credit: Dale Fishner