Name: Cheryl McClea
Location: Aspire Wellness, Newark, DE
Occupation: Personal Trainer
How do you or your business help those with chronic disease/medical conditions or who need pre & postnatal care?
I primarily train women with autoimmune conditions. I have clients with all types of conditions, such as MS, Lyme disease, Hashimoto’s, Epstein Barr, breast cancer, chronic back pain, fibromyalgia, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, amongst others.
What makes you different from all the other fitness professionals out there?
Personally, I have several autoimmune conditions, many of which happened after I was already a trainer. It really threw me for a loop, and turned my world upside down. I’ve had to work hard to regain/ maintain health. I’ve learned a lot from my own experiences and, therefore, I’m willing to tackle conditions that other trainers shy away from. While weight loss is what most people are seeking, it’s not always the easiest to obtain when working with many chronic autoimmune conditions. Often, we need to focus on lifestyle – and how life is different than it used to be pre diagnosis and/or how it’s different than other (healthy) people’s experience.
What is your favorite activity or class to participate in?
I love to workout. I used to run marathons. I also equally enjoyed weight lifting and boxing. But, my body isn’t quite into that these days. I need to be smarter about how I work out and to what intensity. I’ve now come to love hiking. I’ve been section hiking the Appalachian Trail, completing over 100 miles in the last two summers.
What is one piece of advice that you would give other fitness professionals about working with special populations or those who need pre-& postnatal care?
Continue to learn and challenge yourself as a professional. It’s okay to get outside of your comfort zone a little, ask questions, get help and advice from your network, and be open minded in working with clients. Be honest with your client that, together, you can figure it out. Be willing to invest that time in your client to learn and research outside of the gym so you can apply that information to their sessions.
What type of community activities are you involved in?
I own a Wellness Center, so I’m involved in things like the Delaware Small Business Chamber. Personally, I’m into dog rescue and I volunteer with a local rescue.
What is one of your favorite memories involving working with someone who has a health challenge or disability?
I worked with a young woman as a client for several years. While she was in her early 20s, her mental capacity was of a young child. She had both motor and mental impairment. Her parents wanted me to help her become stronger to enable her to perform tasks of daily living easier. It challenged me as a trainer, as I had to not only earn her trust, but also creatively explain exercises and create a program that held her attention while building skills. I will never forget the look on her beautiful face the first time she ever jumped. When both feet left the ground and both feet solidly returned, we both could have cried.
What would you like to see change/develop/emerge in the future of healthcare and the fitness industry? And what are you doing to make this happen?
I would love to see a partnership between the medical community and personal trainers. Together, with teamwork, we could actually make clients well more efficiently and probably more effectively than we currently do.
I network with doctors in my area. Often times, I have a client that has wonderful success and returns to the doctor in much better shape than when they last saw them. In these cases, my work (and the hard work of the client) stands for itself.
What is your favorite fitness/inspirational/motivational quote?
I find inspiration all around. One popular quote that resonates with me though is “be the change you wish to see.”
Anything else we should know about you?
I feel grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, and I look forward to continuing to help people transform their lives. Change is difficult, and it most often takes massive action on your part to make it happen. If you want something, truly want it, you’ll let nothing stand in your way. Everything is a choice. You are what you create.