My name is Brian Gardner and my wife Wendy and I own Body Shop Fitness in Providence Mt. Juliet TN. I am a certified Personal Trainer however this article is not about me; it's about a man that has strong faith and determination. About 6 years ago I started training a friend of mine named Johnny Black. Johnny is in no way just a regular person you would run across. You see, Johnny has Emery Dreifuss Muscular Dystrophy (EDMD). This article is being written and released very timely, not because I have been training him approximately 6 years, but because Johnny underwent a heart transplant 10 years ago this past week. Johnny had heart disease for 11 years but was one of the lucky ones that received a donated heart when he had been on the donor list for only one week; his heart was functioning at less than 10%. Much congratulations to him as less than 50% of people actually live over 10 years after a heart transplant, much less to have to deal with the Muscular Dystrophy with it!
Johnny came to me to train him because he wanted to ensure a better quality of life than just sitting on the couch and watching TV. Johnny is an avid hunter and he told me he wanted to be able to carry his gun and gear in and out of the woods, over hills through trails, etc. Let me start at the beginning - When we started at our gym, Johnny could not get most of the machines going as his legs were not strong enough. Johnny had a hard time just walking and he could barely hold a weight at all much less complete reps with it. This was a huge challenge for me and for him. Johnny started with 250 meters on the concept 2 rowing machine and that was enough cardio for the day. For weight training, he would lift for a few reps with small dumbbells, I believe 3 pounders. He then tried a few reps on a couple of the machines with no weight on them, and attempted a few other movements that we thought might work and then called it a day.
Over the next 6 years we made progress on heavier dumbbell curls, machine presses, cable extensions, balance movements, leg isolation movements, treadmill, elliptical, rowing, etc. Johnny even completed a mile and a half row! Over time his heart condition improved, his blood pressure reduced, he was able to reduce some medications, and he got much stronger, and was even able to put on about 25 lbs of mostly muscle. You see folks Johnny showed up for all his sessions and even comes to the gym on days he is not training with me. Johnny has heart, the kind that holds determination, drive and vision.
Now, Johnny hunts whenever he wants, carrying his gear and gun in the woods, and he even purchased a four wheeler to go further in the woods and enjoy his life. I do not want to mislead anyone as Johnny still has to live with Muscular Dystrophy the rest of his life. Johnny will never be able to walk around and do things easily like most people such as running up steps, stomping in mud puddles and chasing a kid around. But, he has made a very bad situation much better and improved his quality of life.
Johnny is an example we should all follow. Johnny is a Christian and so am I. Johnny shares with me regularly how God has blessed him and given him time and chances he normally, as the doctors all said, would never have had. Nothing was handed to him but hurdles, hard times and challenges. Most of us will never have to endure these hardships. Thank the Lord each and every day for the blessings you have been given and the hardships you have not had to endure.
I can do all things through Christ through Strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). Congratulations Johnny on your 10 year heart transplant anniversary, it had been my honor to train you these past six years!