A window to my world

Motivational story

Here is your Friday story,



Every one of us has different challenges, situations that stress us, change us, and put us up against a wall. I know beyond any doubt that when your body is given all the opportunities to enjoy its natural capacity for movement, the energy reserves you build up help you cope with what life throws your way. In fact, it helps you do 


I call my own personal challenges the three A’s-the three things that shaped my life. The first A is an accident I had at age 19. I broke and tore apart my right arm, shoulder, and chest while riding a motorcycle. I was temporarily paralyzed and spent six months in rehabilitation. . . .This is when I first discovered my passion for making people feel better through physical activity because I experienced first-hand how it made me feel better. If I hadn’t had that accident, I might not have grown my company to more than 170 clubs with more than 500,000 members. I might not have gone all over the world speaking about fitness.


The second A is arthritis. At age 32, I woke up one morning instantly crippled. My whole body was swollen, inflamed and in total pain. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I had been an elite athlete, a five-time rowing champion, and overnight I couldn’t even turn a doorknob. . . .That was quite a blow to the guy who people thought of as Mr. GoodLife Fitness. I used exercise to help me mentally cope with the symptoms and to regain physical strength and mobility. To this day, exercise helps me control the arthritis.


The third A is autism. At the age of two and a half, my eldest daughter Kilee started showing marked changes in behavior. Her kisses turn into biting, her laughter into constant screams. She started pushing me away when I tried to hug her. She wouldn’t make eye contact. I went through a bewildering journey of trying to figure out what was going on. I still remember the initial devastation I felt upon hearing a doctor say, “Your daughter is autistic.”


I became determined to help Kilee become the best she could be. I chose not to focus on her condition but on her potential. I chose to love her unconditionally. All my energy went into a very intensive home learning program for her, aimed at drawing the best out of her. . . .I also made the decision to commit myself to finding the cure for autism. I’ve provided the initial funding for an innovative research team under the direction of neuroscientist Dr. Derrick MacFabe at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. I continue to support that program, closing in on $3 million I’ve donated to the research team.


You might ask what physical activity has to do with my journey as a parent of an autistic child. The answer is twofold. By keeping up my own regular physical activity, my energy levels stay high, my mind stays sharp, and I cope better with stress. . . .Secondly, I have involved regular physical activity in Kilee’s treatment program, with the result that today she has a high level of physical skill. She swims, skis, bikes, runs, and rides horseback.


My three A’s have given me a sensitivity toward people whose bodies are not perfect, people who have had injuries and accidents, people who are coping with chronic conditions such as arthritis or diabetes or who are recovering from a heart attack or stroke, and also people who are overwhelmed or scared to exercise because of inexperience. I know what someone means when he or she says, “I had this horrible injury and I feel like I can’t do things.” I can give people the reassurance that there arethings they can do and that their body can indeed find a movement level that will help them.


What are your own personal challenges, and how might physical activity help you? Exercise influences the biggest A of all-your Attitude. When life hits you broadside, respond with your big A-Attitude. And follow your big A with the three E’s-Energy, Excitement, and Enthusiasm. Exercise helps you feel the three E’s in your body. When you feel it in the body, you feel it in the mind, heart, and spirit. There is no split between mind and body-you are one whole human being.

David Patchell-Evans

more than cope-it helps you thrive.


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