Steve met Hillary in May of 2007, with John Cottrell, when he was with Life Time Fitness in South Valley, Utah. Impressed with Hopkins’s determination, they had ideas about a different approach to exercise that they believed could truly make a difference in her mobility. They began asking questions, and after listening to her story, they developed customized, complementary regimens that would relax tensed muscles, activate those that hadn’t been used in years and build strength.
Cottrell, a yoga instructor and coordinator of the club’s LifeStudio, taught Hopkins breathing exercises that helped open her chest. He also introduced her to back arches and adapted yoga positions, which improved her flexibility, strengthened her core and improved her posture.
Meanwhile, Toms, the personal-training department head at the time, began doing massage work that relaxed the muscles in Hopkins’s glutes and legs, as well as the reciprocal muscles linked to those areas. Once those muscles were relaxed, Hopkins could concentrate on flexing and unflexing her long-dormant muscles.
At first, she could only activate the muscles immediately after the massage, but she could soon do it on her own at home. Within weeks, she began standing up (with Toms’s assistance) and doing a few 90-degree squats.
Just two months into training, Hopkins could get out of her chair and do 40 squats with only stabilizing assistance. “I would never have thought that I would see results this quickly, but I improved more working with John and Steve than I ever did on my own or with other trainers,” she says.
Hopkins’s progress has been gratifying for Toms, too. “There’s no one who’s inspired me more than Hillary,” he says. “Getting her out of her chair is a life-changing thing.”