How I was able to lift my son after the accident

July 28, 2021

My name is Elliot and my life changed overnight. An athlete through high school and college, I regularly played pick-up basketball and football games with friends. While I didn't necessarily go to the gym, I stayed in decent enough shape. Not once did I ever have any doubts about my physical prowess or questioned my body's ability to take on any task.

Together since high school, when I was on the football team and she was a cheerleader, me and my wife lived the All-American dream. We had this cute little house in an idyllic little town in Middle America. It was complete with a well-manicured lawn that I cut myself and an actual honest to god white picket fence that surrounded it. To make things even better, we were pregnant.

Life didn't seem like it could get any better for us. But we learned the hard way that everything could change at any minute, any day. For us, that day was a late summer night.

Having just finished my routine Wednesday night basketball game at the gym, I embarked on the fifteen, twenty-minute drive back home. Another car in the parallel lane, coming from the opposite direction, lost control and slammed into mine.

Luckily, I survived the crash. But I had to be put into a medically induced coma to aid recovery. For two weeks, I thankfully slept through surgery after surgery, putting me back together again.

The day that I fully recovered and woke up, was the day I realized that life would never be the same. All the things that became routine for me were suddenly more complicated, more complex. It was like I was in someone else's body.

Injured in the crash, my back and left arm had plates and screws in them. Being in the medically induced coma had caused my muscles to atrophy and weaken. Something as trivial as holding a bag of groceries became near impossible as my strength would just give out.

Things were getting dark. My mood worsened every day that passed. I became more sullen and withdrawn. To me, my entire world was destroyed. That was until my wife reminded me of the life we still had and the life inside her that was only a few months away from coming into the world. She needed me, and our unborn child needed me.

The hospital physical therapist gave me a workout plan upon being discharged. But I found it hard to find the motivation to utilize it. My beautiful wife suggested finding a coach or trainer. As a former athlete, she figured I’d respond better to outside stimulus. And she was right.

After doing a lot of research online, one company, CoPilot, stood out. Given the choice of a couple of different personal trainers, I chose another former athlete to help me, Jared.

Jared asked me what my goals were. All that I could think of was my unborn child.

"I want to be able to hold my baby. And I want to be strong enough to do so as he gets bigger, heavier." It seemed like such a simple goal but I would learn that it would require some hard work and dedication to achieve.

Immediately Jared got to work trying to find the best workout plan for me and my unique circumstances. It took a little trial and error, but we were able to tailor a plan that not only I could physically do, considering my injuries, it was also an engaging routine.

Phone alerts and notifications, combined with messages from Jared, kept me on track, held me accountable. I couldn't skip a workout even if he wanted to. My trainer learned that he had to push me and motivate me to do one more rep and test my limits.

To me, it felt like being on a sports team again. Jared felt like a coach, pushing me to be better. It was a perfect fit and exactly the kind of help I needed to get stronger, get fitter.

Instead of using my performance in the next game to compel me to work harder and stay on track, I used thoughts of my son. I imagined cradling the little guy in my arms.

Significant help for me was that I didn't have to structure my days around exercise. I could work out in the house, in my backyard, or even at the park. Anywhere I could access data and/or wi-fi, I could hook up with Jared online and get in a session.

When the big day finally came, I was more than ready. I'd gone from not being able to lift a thing with my injured arm and back to being able to lift the equivalent of a toddler, one-handed. I'd gone from having to take a break between the most basic physical activities to spending whole days working out in the yard, non-stop. Both Jared and my wife were so proud of me. It felt good.

No achievement on the hardwood or freshly cut grass of a football field compared to cradling my newborn son in my arms for Elliot. As time went by, I stuck with my CoPilot program and was able to hold my kid as the little guy grew.

My physical fitness horizons expanded. My goals got more ambitious. Next up, I wanted to personally teach our boy all those same sports I enjoyed growing up. With Jared's help and the support of our program, I have no doubt that I’ll be throwing the ball around with my son in no time.

Based on CoPilot member Elliot P.

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