Guest Blogger: Scott’s Story

What is your purpose? Do you know?

I found that someone life’s purpose is interesting. It’s not something you decide, it’s something that you discover. It’s also not something that you find outside; it’s something already within you. Think about that for a second.

Fitness One of Webster’s definition of fitness: adv; to be prepared or ready; in good physical condition.

I had a certain plan, a goal in my life. It seemed to be “me”.

Scott_with_doc

Like most people in the fitness world, I was in pretty good shape from my neck to my toes! Notice I left out a part… what about the head, you ask? We will get to that.

Fitness was my life. I was enjoying my professional career. Traveling the world with clients, everything was good! I began my career in 1986 (OUCH… did I just give my age away!), put on the acting hat, and did pretty well through the 90′s, up until 2005-ish, and THEN…  Wednesday, April 23, 2008, happened… I had to be taken to UCLA hospital.

I had a seizure. On Thursday and Friday tests were ran on my head to find out what was wrong. What they found was an 8 cm tumor on my brain; to give you an idea on what size that is, 8cm is about the same size of a baseball.

scott_machine

This tumor was shutting me down.  It was so big, it was pressing into my brain crushing several vessels and nerves. It had to removed immediately! The operation took place the following Tuesday. After the operation, I was in ICU for 3 days; there was concern that I would have trouble regaining my speech for months. I was a blessed man that day. I was told that I spoke a few words that night (I have no memory of that). Other events happened, that I’ll try to explain, to bring me back to my profession.

Scott_scar

“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” -One of NFL’s greatest coaches, Vince Lombardi

I got out of the hospital 5 days later. I had my speech, I had feelings in my extremities, I NOW had an attitude; I WILL come back! I had no choice. As I moved in with a married couple who were some of the best people in my life, I now had to follow my own preaching. I had no balance, no stability, my strength was gone. For me to start walking, it had to be with another person, so I could hold their shoulder and stabilize myself.

After I started walking on my own (about 10-14 days later), I asked some of my friends to take me down to the beach. I live in Playa del Rey, Ca. I’m about one mile from the beach, and I thought if I could conquer soft sand in my rehab, then we’re getting somewhere! I did; then I started walking backwards in that sand. When I did that, I was so excited, I called a friend, and he started laughing (I don’t know if the laughing was at me, or for me), but that was only the beginning. Then it went to lateral walking, then back to the opposite side. This was maybe a month or so after my surgery. Then I wanted to set up a little circuit training course to start incorporating a little strength in the workout.

Everything was done with just body weight resistance (so no excuses about the weight, you guys!). I started with squats, I could only do 10! I felt good when I hit 25, then 50, then 75, and when I hit 100 squats… I felt that now it was LUNGE time! We did that. Then started bringing exercise straps down to the beach and would use the lifeguard’s stand as a base. It started bringing back balance and it was all functional movements, each exercise was utilizing 3-5 primary muscles to make me think, and operate properly. DONE!

At this point, I set my garage up as a gym for me to start incorporating more advanced strength and balance movements. More “toys” (as I call all of my exercise equipment), and I started feeling more in tune with myself. I started putting the word out that I was going to be working again, in a few months; at this point we are about 3-4 months into my rehab.

“Stay focused. Your start does not determine how you’re going to finish.”  -Another great NFL coach, Herb Edwards

As I kept going, my studio was set up so nicely, why not have my clients come here? That’s how that finish ended up, much different than when I started! When a person gets into a position like this, you HAVE to keep going, no exceptions! You put on that “game face”, and as they used to say long ago, KEEP ON TRUCKIN’.

AND THEN… The doctors then found another tumor 2 years later, about 4cm. Because I’ve had a “rehearsal” in this setting, and the doctors said they had to go into my head again, there seemed to be no fear this time. I knew what they’re going to do, and then I know what I had to do. I was back to work in 3-4 months. My surgeon on the second operation and I have maintained such a wonderful relationship, that he recommended that I come to UCLA and speak to other neurological patients. I volunteer at least 4 hours per week; I can now say to the patients, “I had what you are going through right now, but I’m coming INTO your room, and you can get to this stage, too!”

When I tell the patients that I had TWO tumors, and TWO operations, they listen. I talk to the families, tell them how they can support the patients; how they can even help them train, to get back their identity. Having a support team is SO important, that is why I try to utilize my experience, to help them with theirs. Health and fitness saved me, it wasn’t how I started; and the ending isn’t even here yet!

My book coming out by November, BRAIN MATTERS, going into more detail about my experiences as I related here. I wish all of you GREAT health, great calmness, and support when you or someone in your lives comes across a situation affecting their world. Remember, Adversity is an opportunity for heroism.

 

Scott Yonkouski

About Scott Yonkouski

Scott Yonkouski’s belief in training other clients, comes from his own rehab that he had to incorporate on himself after having 2 brain tumors removed in 2008 and 2010. After the first tumor was removed, which was the size of a baseball, Scott had no balance, his strength was declining, and stability wasn’t present. He turned his training to unbalanced surfaces to re-establish balance, and bring back his stability. After he went back to work (about 5-6 months later) he started applying this same type of unbalanced training to clients who had a weakness in balance, stability, and strength.