When the Going Gets Tough
POSTED: June 11, 2009 Maui Weekly
In 2002, Suzie Cooney was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident on Maui and told she might never walk again. She defied the doctors and came back stronger than ever. Today, Cooney is again on the injured list, but she is far from being taken off the team.
“It’s an unusual feeling for a personal trainer: to be down with a broken left leg in two places and a torn ligament in the right leg and once again not to be able to walk. It’s a little discouraging—I have to be honest with you. However, I am not giving up on myself to heal nor on my clients that really need me,” Cooney said during an interview in her Upcountry studio.
How did a world-class athlete, model, wind-surfing champion, dirt bike rider, mountain hiker and surfer sustain her injury?
“I’m embarrassed to say, I just missed the bottom step,” Cooney laughed. “It’s a very common incident. All my friends assumed I was doing some radical trick on the dirt bike or windsurfing. But it was just an everyday occurrence that could happen to anyone, unfortunately. It took me by surprise for sure.”
According to the Website LawGuru.com, falls in the home account for more than one million injuries each year. Information available at designcommunity.com notes, “Falls most often occur on steps.” According to Design Community, “The human eye sometimes misses a one-step transition, particularly if there is no definitive difference in the appearance of the two levels. The human brain tends to think of the two levels as one. That is, until one takes a step off the edge and gets that unique jolt from not having anticipated the step down.”
Suzie did make one small concession to her injuries. She called her clients, explained the situation, told them that she was taking one week off and then they were back to training again.
Most of those she called were pleasantly surprised that she would resume work so quickly, and questioned if she could do it. Her response, “Absolutely. There is nothing that I can’t do to still help you keep on track. We’ll modify your workout a bit, but I’ll still make you sweat and have a great time.”
“It makes them quickly reflect on their list of excuses they might have in their Rolodex that would prevent them from working out,” Cooney said. “Once they come to the workout, their thinking is, ‘Wow, if she can do it—I can do it.’”
It comes as no surprise that Cooney continues to care about her clients even as she heals from her own injuries. In her training practice, while Cooney helps her clients build muscle and endurance, lose weight and learn balance training, her philosophy of personal training is far removed from the frantic grunt-and-groan-style that many are familiar with from watching TV fitness shows.
“I try to get into my client’s life in a very loving way, and it helps us together to reveal what obstacles they may have that blocks them from success,” said Cooney. “I feel that is my success as a personal fitness trainer. They allow me to get close to them and their lives. I gain their trust, their confidence. We do a lot of life problem solving together, through life and through fitness. So, it’s a real reward that we get to share together back and forth in a really wonderful relationship.”
These are tough economic times, and Suzie is not immune to them. “Life is forever changing,” Cooney said. “We have to be resilient to go through these changes. If our body is strong, our mind can be strong. We are only in charge of today. Tomorrow is what comes. All we have is our health, and that remains number one on my list, as I do see people struggling and that’s important.”
Through it all, Cooney remains strong and positive, telling her new and continuing clients, “Plea-se don’t give up on yourself because I’ll never give up on you.”