Fitness Post-Stroke


We caught up with Michael, one of our Personal Trainers at 55 Fitness, who recently had a stroke. We asked for him to share his experience in having a stroke and how it’s affected his life.

Michael: It hit me getting out of the car. I was visiting my daughter and my leg just wasn’t there. I sat in the car for 20 minutes thinking it was an acute case of my neuropathy, and my daughter wanted to take me to the hospital and I said no and asked her to get me some water, thinking I could be dehydrated. I went home that night. The next morning, it was like an obstacle course moving through my house; I couldn’t feel my left leg. I called my brother and asked him to take me to the hospital.

I went to the hospital and had a CAT scan which didn’t show anything. The Neurologist said it could be neuropathy (numbness from nerve damage). The ER Physician ordered a MRI and that’s how they found it: I had a stroke. I stayed at Northside Hospital for a few days.

It was a pretty shocking and awakening event.

I’m fortunate because the doctors told me that because of working out, and my strength, I was out of the hospital in just two days. During the stroke, my left leg was useless for two days, like it wasn’t there. Now I can do whatever I want to do again. The funny thing about having a stroke is that a stroke is usually caused by high blood pressure or smoking: Neither of which I had. The bottom line is that if it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody: It really can. I had a friend who recently had a stroke, he lost vision in his left eye. Unfortunately, as you get older, these things happen.

I regained my strength rapidly in my legs and I was in the gym again 10 days after my stroke. I still feel a little bit funky in my left arm, especially when I do bench presses. I definitely attribute my quick recovery to being in shape.

Basically a piece of plaque broke off and caused the stroke, and they gave me blood pressure medicine as a precaution. I’ve never had high blood pressure, but I did have bypass surgery in 1996. I had bypass surgery after a 90% blockage in 1996 and I was back in the gym 10 days after that, too.

The best advice I have for people is to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. Exercise, don’t smoke, and hang around with supportive people. Get all the negativity out of your life: All of it. When I sensed that it might be a stroke, I took aspirin right away. I would advise people to take a baby aspirin, of course if it’s okay with their doctor.

It can happen to anybody.