Crossfit Amps Up Patient’s Fitness
At the start of the New Year, Rik Slone would not have thought he could accomplish what he has done since then. An amputee from an industrial accident in 2000, Rik’s life changed remarkably after he joined a CrossFit program.
CrossFit is a fitness regimen of constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity; a core strength and conditioning program. “My wife, Nina, had been doing it for a few months and she urged me to try,” Rik said. “I looked into the window (of the gym) and I thought there was no way I could do any of that.”
But Rik wanted to get in better physical shape so he gave it a try. “I wanted to do something that was beneficial to me. The first day, I thought I was going to die; I had serious reservations about whether I would go back. Then I went a second time and a third time and by the end of the week I was hooked.”
Rik credits his coach at CrossFit Port Byron, Ryan Grage, for helping him adapt to the CrossFit routine and his prosthetist, Ken Horsfall, CPO, LPO, for fitting him with the Össur Flex-RunTM, which enables him to easily do the running routines as well as helping his balance when weight lifting. At his first CrossFit, Rik lifted 65 pounds; now he is up to 135 pounds.
“It has completely changed the game for me to get into the right prosthesis for what I’m doing,” he said.
Rik checks the local CrossFit website every day to get a heads-up on that day’s workout. “If there is running involved, I wear the Flex-Run. Other days it is my normal working leg – a Freedom Innovations Silhouette® foot with suction socket cushion liner and suspension sleeves – but I always have the Flex-Run with me.”
CrossFit’s benefits to Rik are both physical and mental. “As an amputee you see yourself with limitations. Now I’m starting to see I can push all of those away. Mentally and physically, I feel more empowered just trying new challenges,” he said.
“I’m a lot happier and willing to try things. For example, about a year ago on a hike with my kids, I was slowing them down. But after CrossFit, my stamina has increased.
I’m willing to take more risky ventures. There are places I can go where before I would have said, no I’m going to have to skip that.”
“CrossFit has me constantly challenging myself and Ken works with me to make sure the prosthesis I have is fit for the things I’m trying to attempt.”
After only a few weeks in the program, Rik and his wife participated in the CrossFit Open, which consists of five different workout routines over a five-week period. Results from around the country are entered into an online leader board.
“I remember in one workout I dropped the weights and I forced myself to pick them up and keep going. When I was done with that, I realized I pushed myself harder than I had since the amputation. It was neat to realize I could do that and not give up. I placed near the bottom of the competition, but I’m interested to see how I will do next year with the change in my prosthesis and with my fitness level better.”
Rik is using the lessons he learned to help others. He is a union safety representative at John Deere Harvester Works. Recently, one of his co-workers needed an amputation and Rik was able to offer support as well as an example of what life can be after an amputation.
“My co-worker is excited to see what he can achieve as an amputee. He knows there is a learning curve, but he also knows exercise is key. I’ve already been down that road and I can help him with this.”
“CrossFit turned things around for me. There is a lot I’m able to achieve that I never thought was remotely possible.”