E021. Nikki Walsh - A Personal Trainer without Limitations

body exercise mind mind-set movement perseverance personal stories personal training trauma wheelchair Oct 13, 2021
Welcome back for season two!
Join Christina and Nikki as they chat about the importance of exercise for wheelchair users, and the benefits it has for the mind, body, and soul.
Nikki Walsh is a Certified Personal Trainer and owner of Waikiki Nikki Fitness. She studied at Penn State University and was certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
Nikki started her career as a personal trainer, and then tragically, she was involved in a car accident, which paralyzed her from her chest down. About a year after her injury, she was on vacation, and went to a gym with her sister. She describes it as the weirdest feeling, because she was a personal trainer and had lived in the gym before the accident; now it just felt different being in her body, in a situation that should have been normal for her.
It was a wake up call, and she decided at that moment that she would return to doing what she loved; she was going to help people who had similar challenges get moving again. She works with wheelchair users to help them increase their strength, assist in their weight loss, and create healthier habits for a healthy lifestyle. Nikki trains her clients online, and is currently working on expanding her business and becoming certified in Nutrition.
The importance of exercise for wheelchair users
Nikki explains that movement is so important, because when you are in a wheelchair, your metabolism changes, so you have that weight gain that comes with lack of movement, especially if you are eating the same way. If you have that extra weight and you are not strong, transfers (getting in and out of bed, getting into the shower) are difficult. Your joints are not as strong, and if you have not strengthened your back, shoulders, or core, it can lead to injuries.
She discusses the importance of working out even when you don’t feel like it, how working out releases endorphins that are released, which in turn make you happier.
How personal training has changed for Nikki
She explains how her workouts have changed significantly, and in learning how to train her body, she has become more equipped at helping her clients train. The concepts she focuses on getting across to her clients is: practicing good eating habits, focusing on breathing when exercising, engaging their muscles during your workout, and practicing proper form. No one wants a personal trainer who is boring, so Nikki jokes about how she keeps it light by being goofy, and corny.
The importance of Nutrition
Nikki’s work with her nutritionist, Fatima from Paralysis Nutritionist, educated her on the fact that the paralysis body needs to eat a certain way. They don’t need the same amount of protein because their muscles don’t need to be rebuilt like someone who is not in a wheelchair. Too much protein can cause constipation, and eating too much can overload the kidneys. She realized that getting her nutrition certification would allow her to take her clients to the next level, by empowering them with proper, researched nutrition advice.
The importance of Mind-set
In reflection, for Nikki it goes back to the decision she made in the hospital bed after her accident; are you going to push through, she asked herself, or are you going to fall back? She works with her clients on their mind-set by addressing their feeling, and thoughts, as well as encouraging them with her own story. She summed it up in one of her most recent social media posts, a quote by R.M. Drake.

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