Dan Walinga has worked with me in his capacity as a Personal Trainer at the Goodlife Fitness Centre in Georgetown over the past three years. In order for me to describe the help Dan has given me you will need to bear with me as I explain my specific fitness concerns. I am a fifty-one year old male who has been active in sports for most of my life and my work as a skilled labourer in construction contributed to my maintaining a certain degree of physical fitness. However, my physical condition demanded I start paying more careful attention to my body. Injuries suffered to each shoulder long ago had been exacerbated by years of construction work. In addition, my right knee had suffered damage – meniscal tears, minor ligament damage and the creeping onset of arthritis. I was determined to avoid any surgery unless absolutely necessary, so about five years ago I put away my hockey goalie pads and got out of construction site work. I pursued courses of physiotherapy for my knee and shoulders which helped to return me to an acceptable level of mobility yet the pains, the discomfort and the diminished range of motion persisted. I grew to believe that I needed to strengthen these joints and improve my physical condition in order to be able to keep up a good level of physical activity in both the short and long term so. I also initiated a process of consulting two orthopedic surgeons and two chiropractors as well as my family physician, and it was becoming likelier that surgery was going to be necessary on each shoulder otherwise their condition would continue to deteriorate; healing, in other words, meant surgical repair plus my work in rehabbing and maintaining good structural fitness. These were the circumstances I presented to Dan for his consideration in devising a training  program for me at the gym.

First of all, Dan is a likeable person. It helped that we have some common interests, specifically sports, but I believe that the absence of same would have been no hindrance to our dialogue. He has a calm, reserved but concerned and focused demeanor that made it easy to be forthright about my history and concerns. He took the time to listen and he questioned me as to my goals and expectations. He conducted a few clinical tests such as blood pressure and body fat content to initiate his assessment of my fitness levels. We moved on to testing my endurance, range of motion and strength in the gym. He then formulated a program of exercises which covered leg, upper body, core and cardio conditioning while also zeroing in on strengthening the muscles around the shoulders and knees. He took the time to explain these more focused exercises, and his knowledge of the uses gym equipment can be put to as well as his research into and awareness of alternate training techniques made it possible to adapt his program to the condition of my shoulders in particular.

Sixteen months ago I had arthroscopic surgery on my left shoulder. The work Dan and I had put in at the gym brought me to a good level of preparedness, never worsened my shoulder problems (largely because he persisted in seeking feedback and I was

comfortable in saying when certain exercises were painful or awkward) and gave me the confidence of knowing I could work through the rehab to regaining greater range, strength and usage from my shoulder. The surgery was successful and I worked exclusively with a physiotherapist for the ensuing six months who led me through a progression of passive then active range of motion exercises to a point where I was ready to return to the gym. So, six months after the surgery I was back with Dan – I had kept him informed of my progress with physiotherapy as well as the details of the surgery itself. I made sure both Dan and my physiotherapist were aware of each other in case either had questions I couldn’t answer. The physiotherapist told me there was little more she could do and it was time to get back to the gym. She also remarked that it made such a difference in working through the annoyances of rehab to have a good base of strength, flexibility and fitness. Dan resumed program with me and it seemed almost seamless in terms of where I had gotten to on my own following physiotherapy instructions . I have suffered no setbacks with my left shoulder, rather, Dan’s program, coupled with the surgery, the physiotherapy and my own hard work, has helped strengthen the joint and improve range of motion. He was faced with the task of strengthening one shoulder while not worsening the other already troublesome shoulder and this is what we have been working on for the past ten months. I am now days away from surgery on my right shoulder and thanks, in part, to Dan I anticipate a successful procedure and recovery. I have greater strength, flexibility and mobility in my left shoulder than three years ago, I see no reason why this can’t be true for the other shoulder.

In the course of my time spent at the gym, I have seen Dan working with others of his clients, people exhibiting a broad range of physical condition, and I have noticed there is often steady chatter going on, which doesn’t surprise me because Dan is a good communicator. He listens, he explains his program clearly, he seeks input and he carries out his work with empathy and resolve. I have benefitted from Dan’s skills and expertise, and I am fortunate to be associated with a person of his genuine caring and commitment to his work.

― Peter Hodgson