A little over three years ago during a bike ride I was hit by a car and left with a broken collarbone, a fractured lower back, and broken finger and wrist. For the first time ever, I couldn’t do the one thing that had always been an integral part of my life — work out.
After my accident, I couldn’t do much of anything for the first few weeks. It was a humbling experience to say the least. I was forced to slow down — literally.
I couldn’t work as I no longer had a desk job and was working as a personal trainer. I was in my second year of business school and had to drop one of my classes and graduated a semester late.
I started thinking a lot about when I started working out and how it came to be such a huge part of my life. A lot of it started in high school.
During my freshman year, I was required to run one mile in under 12 minutes. Even though I was one of the more athletic girls in my class, this was a very challenging assignment because I suffered from asthma. I was determined to not be the slowest.
Every Sunday I would run the track at the Jewish Community Center in my New Jersey neighborhood. When it came time for testing, I completed the run in less than 12 minutes. I actually started to enjoy running and when the weather permitted I would run outside on the weekends. It was during that time that I also discovered the weight room and I was so excited to turn 14 (weird, yes I know!) so I could start using it.
I remember bringing my friend Erica to aerobics classes where we were the only two kids there. I started reading every fitness magazine I could get my hands on. My workouts became my study breaks and stress outlet from SATs, exams and homework.
Following college graduation, I packed my bags and moved out west to California, seeking a job in publishing. I started working as a personal trainer while I was looking to start my own business.
Many of my clients were parents who had teens. I started working with their kids individually and then in groups. I started learning a lot about teens — their needs, their interests — and the idea for a teen only fitness concept began to evolve and in March of 2008 O2 MAX officially opened in Santa Monica.
I feel so fortunate to have found a way to combine my passion for fitness, helping others and being able to inspire teens to take charge of their health and make fitness a long-term lifestyle.
I worked really hard to get back in shape after my bicycle accident. It takes focus, discipline and dedication. When I first started physical therapy I couldn’t even lift a pound (before I had been lifting 15 pounds). When I ran I got winded within the first mile. My abs got fatigued after just a few crunches. I cried almost daily the first few weeks. I was so angry and frustrated.
Why me? I tried to make sense of what happened. Most of my major accomplishments have not come easy for me and now this bike accident was thrown my way. I had to make peace with the situation somehow and I was determined to make a full recovery. Whenever I would get discouraged I would think about how my grandparents survived the holocaust. I would think about a mutual friend I knew who was my age and dying of cancer. Even if I didn’t fully recover I was going to be OK.
Today I am in the best shape of my life. I have worked really hard to get here, but it isn’t just about looking good. Being fit is just as much about the mental part as the physical part.
Last year I did complete my first century ride to raise funds for Multiple Sclerosis (which is what I had been training for when I had my bike accident).
This column is for parents to ask questions about anything and everything related to teen fitness, health, sports, nutrition and anything else you want insight on. We will bring you our perspective along with insight from other experts and teens themselves.
Join us on our journey as we make history and make Santa Monica one of the healthiest places to live and inspire teens to take control of their fitness and health.
Karen Jashinsky is a certified personal trainer in Santa Monica and the founder of O2 MAX, a fitness network for teens that integrates fitness, social and academics in one space. To receive her newsletter or contact her she can be reached at info@O2maxfitnes.com.