What is your role here at Special Tree?
I’m a Clinical Exercise Physiologist and manage the DTS-Fitness/Exercise Rehabilitation Program. I have a master’s degree in Clinical Exercise Physiologist.
What’s a typical week like in your exercise program?
Every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, I work with our outpatient clients at the Troy Neuro Skills Center in the morning and then drive to the NeuroCare Center in Romulus where I work with clients in our subacute, outpatient, and Wayne County residential clients in the afternoon.On Wednesday mornings, I lead an exercise program at the Romulus Neuro Skills Center for Day Treatment clients.On Fridays, I drive to our Westwood and Cottage Community Residences to work with clients in a home-setting. Our residential clients there love that we go to them and really enjoy participating in our program.The program continues to grow as we work with more clients in our residential homes.
Being a former Olympian, what experiences and or knowledge from accomplishing that has helped you with your job?
I grew up on a farm in Kenya without machinery or cars.Everything we did was manual labor and we walked everywhere.I played soccer through high school and picked up running when I joined a community college in Kenya in 1997, after my brother David, a professional runner, encouraged me to accompany him for morning runs when he was home from his training camp.During each run, he saw my potential and he took me to his training camp and since then, trained me to run. In 2002, I was awarded a scholarship to attend Eastern Michigan University. Being given a free scholarship to obtain my college degree was all I needed to motivate me.I won the NCAA Cross Country Individual Championship in 2001 and in 2002.Because my team did not make it to the 2001 Team Championship, I took on the role of being a team leader to convince my teammates that we could win the 2002 Cross Country Championship, which we did. During this time, I learned the ability to coach and train others.While in college, I was hired by Concordia College in Ann Arbor to revitalize and coach their cross-country team.It’s here, where I learned that coaching and training is what I am good at.In 2003, I was fortunate to be awarded a Nike contract to run for them professionally.Mingling with coaches who trained the best athletes in the world, taught me a lot about coaching.In 2011, I got my Personal Trainer Certification and trained personal clients at a corporate gym.As I gained a reputation for helping other trainers to become successful, I was promoted to assistant personal trainer.In 2012, I went back to college and earned my Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology.After I graduated in 2015, I was told Special Tree was hiring a part-time Personal Trainer for clients by Kelly Long, Special Tree’s Assistant Medical Director who I knew through the Personal Training Program at Lifetime Fitness.In 2016, I was juggling Special Tree, working at Lifetime Fitness, and coaching at the University of Detroit until I was given the opportunity to lead Special Tree’s Exercise and Fitness program full time.
How does exercise play a role in rehabilitation?
It improves our clients’ functional capacity in many facets like increasing endurance, strengthening upper and lower extremities, reducing ataxia, improving muscle tone and spasticity, helping with ADLs (Activities of Daily Living), and improving their overall mood and cognition among other benefits and positive outcomes. From the onset of meeting them during an evaluation, I establish a rapport, work on goal-setting set their goals based on their needs, and analyze their limitations and strengths using the acronym SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely). During their exercise, I give my clients positive reinforcements consistently, play their music favorite genres, and give them undivided attention.I believe in every one of my clients and point to their strengths and utilize those strengths to their advantage.
What have you learned from working at Special Tree?
Special Tree opened the door to what I currently do and love.Knowing that our clients can benefit from exercising and watching them improve their functional capacity inspires me to help others. Practicing the Science of Caring and making every day fabulous for our clients is what’s most important.
Nike commercial featuring Boaz: