From a broken hip at 51 to running a 5K less than a year later thanks to the right team.

Jun 05, 2017
Ashley Ann Lawrie

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What do you do when you crash your bicycle and break your hip at 51 years old?

You get better and you get back in the saddle – that’s what Danielle Leduc did.

On May 5, less than a year later, she participated in a 5K fun run. But she would likely still be hobbling around with her running shoes and bike gathering dust if she had stuck with a conventional program of physiotherapy.

After her accident, Danielle spent three months on crutches, unable to put any weight on that leg. She then progressed to running on a zero-gravity treadmill as she underwent months of physio. But her recovery was dogged by tremendous pain in her calf muscles because of atrophy from lack of use.

“The physio program didn’t include any targeted strength training to regain the ability to run outside,” Danielle said. “A zero-gravity treadmill just isn’t enough for an active person trying to get back to their same level of activity.”

Danielle is no stranger to fitness. She has worked with personal trainers before and her niece is a powerlifter. She realized she needed an expert coach to get her back on track. A Google search led her to Free Form Fitness’s Kanata location, where she was matched with trainers Monique Vautour and Ryan Williams.

Ryan is a certified fascial stretch therapist who has also worked with professional athletes on strength and conditioning. Danielle found something of a kindred spirit, given that Ryan has had to overcome his own challenges with a rare blood vessel and muscle disorder.

Monique and Ryan got to work with a tailored program focused on getting Danielle running again.

“After just two visits, my running began to improve,” Danielle said. “After three weeks, I was able to complete that 5K where a few weeks before I could barely run.”

What made the difference? A focus on stretching and exercises meant to rebuild strength in her glutes and leg muscles. Danielle’s trainers also zeroed in on her bad habit of pushing off the balls of her feet during exercise – this contributed to knee pain that had bothered her long before the biking accident.

The other big improvement Danielle saw was with her weight. She had always been a healthy eater, but her injury, as well as the metabolic changes that come with age, had all added up. She and her partner decided to start eating cleaner when she began training with FFF. Thanks to the support of her trainers, as well as a diet tracker wearable, Danielle lost five pounds within three weeks.

“When I turned 50, my metabolism came to a screeching halt,” she said. “You can sit down and complain about it or you can do something about it and make a commitment to change your lifestyle. FFF provides a structure to keep me accountable. Monique and Ryan are there to cheer me on and give me that encouragement.”

These days, Danielle is doing Pilates daily and running three times a week, in addition to training at FFF twice a week. What’s her next goal?

“Just keep getting leaner and fit, and work and measure my success through Free Form Fitness,” she said. “Ryan has just prepared a full body workout for me which I am planning on doing twice a week! Hopefully I’ll be able to tackle a 10K run this fall.”

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