A little over a year ago I decided my annual 12 weeks of physical therapy wasn’t cutting it. It was time to consider a personal trainer. The idea terrified me. I pictured hyper, fit ponytailed women cheerfully shouting at me for one more set. I pictured beefy men without a brain in their heads . . . actually, that wasn’t so bad. What I got was entirely different and has ruined me for all others.

LaTasha Barnes is petite but strong AF. Her background includes cheerleading, the army, and competitive Lindy Hop. She has a fierce wit and a delightful knowledge of 90s pop culture. The woman contains multitudes. Even at my fittest, I never enjoyed exercise. I still don’t, really. But Tasha changed my mindset with her good-natured encouragement that never condescended. (The workouts tailored for a body suffering from neurological mayhem didn’t hurt either.) She encouraged me to rest when I needed to and to push a little harder when she thought I could. She helped make me stronger, and, perhaps more importantly, made me believe I could be stronger, which is a really hard thing to believe from the view inside this body.

My perfect trainer was too good and smart to remain nearby for long. She is currently in grad school at NYU, and I am left behind trying to muster up the energy to do some planks on my own in spite of knowing that no one is checking in on me regularly. It’s hard, especially given my recent trough, but I did hit a milestone recently.

That’s the glorious Ms. Barnes in the right corner.
100 workouts in a year is HUGE. It would have been huge for me when I was at peak condition; doing it when I’m arguably at my worst would have been unthinkable without loving and smart guidance. So thank you, dear Tasha. I love you too much to hate you for deserting me. And I promise to keep trying, even without my favorite cheerleader there to egg me on.

My appreciation for Tasha has only increased as I have sought substitutes. I have a physical therapist who is kind and knows her stuff but does not push me. If I wobble a little, I am put in time out, sitting for a full minute to think about what I’ve done. Then there’s the online MS Gym community run by what seems to be a very capable physical therapist and his sweet wife. They send me messages daily telling me that I CAN DO IT! and that THE MS COMMUNITY GIVES THEM LIFE! They are kind and well-meaning, but their sincere youth minister demeanors do not motivate me. 

Were they to watch me exercise and be inspired to cry “Super Rebecca!!” I might slap them.

When Tasha said it, I felt invincible.

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