The Healing Power of Exercise: A Mom’s Tale

Kyle benchpressing Julie Lother, his devoted trainer.

Kyle benchpressing Julie Lother, his devoted trainer.

Trainers and weight loss coaches advertise the benefits of exercise all day long.  It’s our job and most of us get pretty good at it.  But once in a while, a special client does it better by telling their story in a way that encourages and inspires others.

Trainer Julie Lother has a client who did just that. Julie is the Fitness Director of Fit@North, the employee health and wellness program of North Memorial Medical Center.  Her client, Jill, shared her unique story of how exercise changed her body, healed her heart and spread wellness throughout her family.

Jill’s Story: A New Beginning

When I turned 40, I started asking myself questions about the second half of my life.  What are my genetic risks?  Will I get osteoarthritis? Can I prevent being injured on the job?  How can I stay well as the primary wage earner for the family? Will I be able to continue to enjoy my current lifestyle?

I started to find answers one day at workplace health fair.  My employer, North Memorial Medical Center, provides a gym that is open 24 hours a day.   I know that it is hard to motivate myself to exercise at home.  This way I could workout with a trainer right after my shift.  So I signed up to exercise 3 times a week. 

Once a week, I met with Julie, my trainer.  I loved her support and feared her challenges.  I burned, ached and sweated until I began to see the scale fall back and the inches drop off.  My strength grew and my energy multiplied.  I loved working out and training with Julie.  I felt great!

But my heart was sad.  I had a son who had become stuck in an unhealthy life style.  Junk food, soda pop and sedentary entertainment had taken their toll on his body.  He weighed over 400 pounds.  I needed to help him avoid the same fears I had and feel the benefits I had achieved.

A Mother’s Persistence Creates Change

I wanted my son, Kyle, to experience the same transformation that I enjoyed.  But, I knew that the gym was only for employees.  So, I talked to Julie and she understood my concern.  She allowed Kyle to come to the gym, anyway. 

On our very first day, we walked on the treadmill.  The scope of this challenge became clear: my young adult son couldn’t walk for more than 5 minutes without stopping to catch his breath.   He wasn’t sure he wanted to come back after the first day. But I encouraged him to keep trying for at least a week.

We began to go the gym every day.   We walked on the treadmill and talked together and eventually it got easier.  Julie was there each time, giving my son encouraging smiles and high fives.  A new friendship was forming.  Kyle trusted Julie and made major changes to his diet.  No more soda, no more snacks and lots of water. 

Weeks turned into months and Kyle’s strength and endurance grew.  His short walks turned into 30-minute runs and he even began benchpressing Julie!.  The weight started to melt away.  Eighteen months after that grueling first day, he was 160 pounds lighter and ready to live life.

But the change was more than just physical.  Kyle felt better about himself.  He met a girl and got a new job in Ohio.  Before moving, he thanked Julie for giving him a new life.  Now, he continues his health habits and is making new ones.  He bikes 5 miles to and from work every day.  He lost an additional 20 pounds and even surprised Julie on a recent trip home.

Moving Forward with a New Partner

With Kyle in a good place, my heart was happy. But I was without a workout partner.  I talked my husband into joining me one day.  He was hesitant about the plan, and like my son, didn’t want to return after the first day.  But Julie knew just what to do.

The tiny trainer played her ‘Mighty Mouse’ role; hand on hip, finger shaking at his nose. “Mister, I will see you tomorrow,” she barked.  It worked!  Now my husband joins me daily.  He has had some physical challenges during his life but Julie can adapt routines to accommodate his needs.  She mixes silliness, challenges, jokes and authority to make a tough workout effective and fun.  He has lost 30 pounds so far and is more flexible than ever.

I am truly proud of my son and his achievements.  I thank Julie for her open arms, her belief in Kyle, and her dedication to helping people. Our lives have changed because of her.  We have less stress and healthier bodies.  We love to work out together and have a friend who really cares about us.   Being healthy and feeling good makes everything else in life easier.


Have you visited the North Memorial Medical Center Healthy Weight Loss website and Facebook page.  Go “friend” us right now, then check back on Thursday, when Kyle shares his 3 best tips for overcoming challenges and getting fit.


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