There are people that come into our lives that defy all expectation. Have you ever met someone whom you previously had heard about, or may even have spoken to, only to find out they not only lived up to their values and skill but by far exceeded them? It doesn’t happen often right? I can truthfully state this about my massage therapist, confidant, and friend; Lisa Jamison.
I was given a brief introduction to Lisa by my good friend Scott Bragan. He mentioned that he made massage a big part of his training, and in his opinion how much of an expert Lisa was, and how she worked with him on some injuries and ailments. I finally decided to talk to her and see if she could help me. (I will give you my story about my injury in another posting, but I currently have a L5/S1 herniated disc in my back) I had been going to a chiropractor for my injury and they were keeping me running, but I felt like I had to make frequent visits, but that all changed when I met Lisa. The first thing she did was look at my posture and how I hold myself, and immediately gave me analogies to think about, and exercises to do during the day to help. She assessed my injuries and then……and then, she went to work on me.
All I can say is O-M-G! That first massage was an experience. She loosened up muscles I didn’t even know I had, all the while telling me what she was doing and why she was doing it. Lisa and I are both talkers so we also were getting to know each other. It turns out, she is not only an LMT, but a USAT Level 1 coach, a Yogi, a Certified Personal Trainer and an IRONMAN. At this time I was still seeing my orthopedist and my neuro-surgeon. Lisa educated me more on bio-mechanics than either of my doctors, and when I questioned them about the aspects of my anatomy Lisa educated me on, they both looked like a deer in headlights. Lisa’s knowledge and experience was far superior. First impression; this woman knows her stuff.
|Lisa at Fight for Air Climb 2012|
As we continued our professional relationship we started to become friends, and I learned that she was not only passionate about helping athletes, but also para-athletes. She was close personal friends with Scott Rigsby, the first double amputee to finish the Kona Ironman! She was also contracted by tri-clubs all over the nation, to meet them at races and work on their athletes and their para-athletes. Whenever I had a question about about form, posture, or training Lisa always either knew or found a way to help me out. Second Impression; she cares about her clients and will go to great extents for them. Amazing!
Then she told me the story about her brother-in-law that passed a day before she was to compete in Ironman Florida. This immediately brought tears to my eyes, and continues to whenever I recall her words about him. She did end up competing in the race, but returned home immediately afterward. She said that her brother-in-law, Mike Dalton, wouldn’t have it any other way. Currently, she has dedicated herself to American Lung Association and the Fight for Air stair climbs across the country dedicating herself for another friend taken from her, John Foley. Lisa started Team Foley and she recruits athletes every year to do the Tampa Stair Climb at the Bank of America building. Last year I participated, wouldn’t you know it, WE WON! Yep, I stepped up the 42 flight climb with Team Foley and I would do it again in a heartbeat. As a matter of fact I am already signed up for 2013. Lisa also completes stair climbs all over to include the Sears (not Willis) Tower in Chicago. Can you imagine 103 flights? She does it and often.
Third impression – I am in love with this woman. I defy anyone to meet her and not feel the same way.
DOB: March 27, Aries
Grew Up: Vernon, CT
High School: Rockville HS
High School Sports: Drill team/Dance squad, figure skated(outside of school)
College: University of Connecticut
Sports: Inline Speed Skate (as an adult), Triathlon, Running
I describe you as the best LMT in the Tampa Bay area. How and why did you start with massage and sports training?
I studied Sports Med/Athletic Training in college. Through college I worked in the fitness industry (I was one of the early ones…”aerobic instructor”). After college I spent time working as an athletic trainer and teacher while still doing some fitness work on the side. At some point I could see that I wanted to spend more time working in the fitness industry, but liked the sports training model. It seemed to me that if people could take their workouts and view them as something as they “got to do” vs what they “had to do”, our health and fitness might be more enjoyable. I started personal training in the late 1980’s. I moved here in 1991 and have just kept plugging along. I read a lot, take a lot of classes, and just keep trying to throw something new into my “bag of tricks”. I went to massage school about 8 years ago.
If you could give me one adjective to describe the feeling you get when you are working what would it be?
I like the aspect of the day that keeps me looking for a different way to get the job done. Maybe that’s because I need to shake things up for my own sanity, and maybe that’s because healthy clients are in their for the long haul and may get bored doing the same thing over and over again. I can’t think of an adjective…but I do get lost in my own head while I’m working in a the quiet of massage. While training and watching people in their setting, it’s almost like I can get in their body and feel it.
|Lisa at IMFL|
When and why did you start competing in triathlon?
It was the late 90’s. I was working with a lot of triathletes, finishing up with a stint in speed skating and looking for the next sport. I knew I’d get involved in triathlon, but was afraid of the swim. I didn’t rush into it. I participated without training for a couple of years, then changed my workouts to focus on triathlon a little bit. After a few years I started legitimately training for it. Now it’s been a couple of years since I’ve raced. Not sure what will happen next.
What is one thing you love most about triathlon?
The people, the training partners, the group of people. I really like the balance of the group training for an individual sport. I like having to get lost in your own head in the midst of a crowd.
After being in the business as long as you have, what possesses you to still take the classes for continuing Ed that you do?
I have to for many reasons. I am self employed and live alone; if I don’t work, there isn’t money coming in. I learned very early on that people’s incomes can change, and you will be the first person they give up in difficult economic times. If I weren’t “multi-talented”, I wouldn’t work. I always have to be looking ahead to see what else I can do. Personally, I like a day that’s filled with different things. I enjoy being able to train a few fitness clients, work on re-patterning a skill with an athlete, do a relaxation massage, help with injury rehab, do some yoga, and meditate. I like group work as well as private work. I’m a teacher at heart, so as long as somebody is learning something, I go home feeling like I made a difference
|Lisa & the Goof at the Fight for Air Climb|
What was the turning point for you to decide make this a career?
All through high school I volunteered in hospitals and physical therapy clinics. I always said I wanted to work with a “well” community, or one that was injured but was motivated to come back strong. I started working in fitness in 1981 and it’s just all evolved from there. I’ve just had to set the path for what I’ve wanted to do.
What would you say is your greatest obstacle you ever overcame?
There wasn’t a career in “personal training” or “corrective exercise” or even massage during my early days. I’ve always referred to myself as a bit of a hybrid. Now the hybrid careers are becoming more popular. I wish I knew that…I would have saved a lot of time looking for the career that was right for me spent more time “just doing it”.
What is your greatest victory?
When I can help someone get that “a-ha” moment and their day/life/sport makes more sense
Final Impression: I want to be just like Lisa when I grow up.
It’s January 9th and I have been trying to provide a base now since November 6th. I think I am doing pretty well. I couldn’t swim 600 yards without changing up strokes from freestyle to sidestroke, to breaststroke. Now I can go about 800 yards with strictly freestyle..at least in a pool. Yesterday, January 8th 2011, I ran the Disney Half-Marathon without stopping in 1:59:32. It is not great, but not that this is an excuse, but it was extremely crowded and I was in the very back of the pack. Last week I cycled 40 miles, with a 5K run at the end. I think as far as my endurance factor goes I am a little a head of the game.
Just to give the story as to why. People think I am nuts…why train for an event where you swim 2.4 miles, Bike 112 miles and then run a marathon? It started two years ago. I had been working my ass off 12 -15 hour days including weekends. I was feeling drained and I was due for a physical with a complete blood workup. Dr. Gold basically said I was in horrible shape. My cholesterol was high, my triglycerides were high, my good cholesterol was low, my sugar was high…I am sure the picture was obvious. This was only 3 years after separating for the second time from the military. I couldn’t believe I let myself get so out of shape.
Kim and I were walking around Hyde Park Village about three weeks later and we walked past Lifestyles Family Fitness. There was a poster in the window for a Boot Camp Class. We went in and contracted to use the gym, I enrolled in Boot Camp and Kim hired a personal trainer to get her started again. Well, from the first class I was hooked. They had these teasers prior to the beginning of the real class and it was an intense 35 minutes of cardio, strength training, agility, stability and core exercises. I loved it, coming from a military background where this is what we did everyday. The difference was the emphasis on form and injury reduction. Well, the instructors, Nicole Sturtze, and Zach Thompson were a hell of lot nicer than my drill sergeants. Two days a week for an hour I put 100% effort and sweat-ed profuciously and loved it. One Monday morning, my eyes popped open at 5:30am and I was wide awake. I thought, eh why not go for a run. I ran for four miles and felt like a million dollars. The next day after boot camp I saw a flyer for another class called Punch & Crunch, and thought, eh why not give it a try. Melissa Trinidad was teaching, and I knew she was one of the top trainers at the gym, not to mention she was really cute. Again, I was hooked after the first class. Boxing paired with cardio and core was awesome. Within a month of starting to work out twice a week, I had now more than doubled my workouts to 5 days a week. Monday, I ran or worked out on my own, Tuesday & Thursday was Boot Camp, Wednesday and Saturday was Punch & Crunch, Friday and Sunday I took off. Next, a friend in Boot Camp told me about this Hot Yoga down the street from the gym. I never sweated so much in my life and felt so rejuvenated afterward. Now I was at 6 days a week.
Next came the game changer – Scott Bragan, another Boot Camp friend, started mentioning the Chicago Marathon and how he was doing it for charity. The PKD foundation. Perocystic Kidney Disease. His mother-in-law had a transplant, his wife was diagnosed with it, and his daughter had a 50/50 chance of coming down with it because she carried the gene. My need to help kicked in, so I decided to talk to him about it, and before I knew it we had 10 members of Team Tampa PKD and were starting a plan to fund raise to a goal of $25,000!! With that we also trained together. Two six week sessions of boot camp, combined with Punch & Crunch, and Yoga allowed my first training run, to be 9 miles. I couldn’t believe I was starting to train for a marathon and I could already comfortably run 9 miles. I was jazzed.
Well, Scott also mentioned another activity he did…Triathlons. I had partaken in a couple of triathlons in high school and I enjoyed them, so I thought, what a great way to break up the training for the marathon by swimming and biking and participating in a couple of sprint triathlons as well. I ended up participating in two that summer, the Mease Plant Point and the Top Gun and loved them…well…except for the swim. I just wanted to get that over with.
We did end up raising the 25000 bucks and then some and everyone finished the marathon with decent times, except for me. I ended up injuring myself two weeks before with a herniated disc at L5/S1 and was in recovery during the marathon. I did go to Chicago that weekend and I did take some great pics, and cheer on my team, but I was really bummed. That was October 2009.
Since then I have been in a few more small races, 5Ks and 10Ks, a couple of half-marathons, three more triathlons and have continued to train. I have not missed a boot camp session since then and I feel I am pretty good shape. Last November a friend from a running group I have been running with, the Blue Sharks, told me she did a couple of Full Ironman Triathlons. I was really impressed. She then mentioned she was going to volunteer at the Florida Ironman and asked if I wanted to go. I thought it would be really cool to see all these elite athletes do this incredible event. I went and had an awesome time and got hooked. I was in the transition tent from the Bike to the Run and the Pro-athletes came in and they were systematic and quick. Then the age-groupers came in and some of them were the same as the pros and some of them just took there time, had a break and then continued on to the run. I was enthralled at the amount of people, and all the types of people that were going through this event. Of course the next part is what really hooked me. About 9pm we all decided to hang out at the finish line. Let me preface this by saying the race started at 7 am, so this was 14 hours after the start of the race…Four…teen…..hours! Teresa (the culprit who hooked me into this) said this was the best part of the race because this is the “regular” people finished. The people who had regular jobs, kids, responsibilities that had to fit all this training in apart from that. Coming over the finish line were women and men in excess of 280 pounds, a blind man, a disabled man, men and women in excess of 60 years old, and my favorite a 16 time age grouper that was 76. Yes, that’s right SEVENTY-SIX years old and he came over the finish line before the cut-off of 17 hours. There are those people like myself who do not look there age. There are seventy-six year olds out there whom look fifty or even 60. No…this guy looked the all of seventy-six he was. This is what got me hooked…if they could do it…I definitely could do it.
I have to mention that I really do not want to be racing for 17 hours. If I finish it in 16 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds…I will be happy that I completed it, but I really do not want to be racing for that long. I found a guy Ben Greenfield who is an awesome athlete and a very knowledgeable athlete whom has developed a plan to get average joes like me through the Ironman with an acceptable amount of training hours that might not completely infringe on my responsibilities. I also have met with a swim coach, my doctor, my chiropractor and a license massage therapist whom is also a bio-mechanics expert and a USAT Level 1 certified trainer. With all this support, I hope to conquer this quest.
At the moment I am doing my own base training right now, with an emphasis on getting comfortable in the saddle of my bike, and becoming relaxed and efficient in the water. Ben’s plan is a 36 week plan, so it does not actually start until the last week in February. I have increased my weekday workouts from an hour to two in order to get my body used to working hard longer, and continue to do boot camp.
Here is to hoping my plan works out, and no injuries or re-injuries will stop me.
Live Strong, Finish Stronger!!!