I met Coach John Hofman through a work association. I am fortunate enough to work for a fire department that utilizes his training and expertise. Although I am not a first responder for the department, but instead a part of the clerical staff, Coach Hofman still took the time and effort to answer my questions about fitness and nutrition. He gave me suggestions on stretching and running techniques and introduced to me to nutrient-rich protein shakes. As a result of Coach Hofman’s suggestions, my 5k running time improved.
On a fateful Friday, I was on a routine jog alone in West Sacramento on my lunchbreak from work. I had been suffering from an undiagnosed, congenital heart defect and had cardiac arrest. Fortunately, I was given bystander CPR and rescued by an ambulance company and my coworkers, the local fire department. I had open heart surgery and months of recovery and time away from my former exercise regimen. I later had a pacemaker/defibrillator implanted because of the possibility of another cardiac arrest or rhythm disturbance. My life had forever changed.
Upon my return to work, I was out of shape and had gained weight. I had also developed a fear of running alone. I no longer enjoyed lacing up my sneakers and taking lunchtime jogs to gain the clarity that running alone can bring. I was terrified that if I ran alone at my previous speed, my heart rate would escalate too quickly and I would again be in dire need. I had associated running with the possibility of death.
Coach Hofman heard about my cardiac arrest and my return to the Sacramento area from the Bay Area where I recovered. I was reticent to exercise. I was in the most lethargic and inactive physical shape I had ever been. I still experienced soreness in my chest from my heart surgery and the internal defibrillator/pacemaker implantation. It would be an uphill battle because I was dealing with emotional and physical barriers, but Coach Hoffman said he would be honored to train me.
I was in capable hands as Coach re-introduced me to exercising. He gave me full access, for free, to his Train Heroic application. He even took it upon himself to research cardiac rehab and reasonable expectations of progress. I had a clear understanding of what my exercise workout should look like and the Train Heroic application had helpful videos to follow. Coach Hofman modified exercises, so I was still strength training while dealing with chest soreness and sensitivity. We started slowly and I began to enjoy exercising, again. Hofman gave me suggestions and focused my attention on small milestones of accomplishment. He checked in regularly and throughout my transformation surpassed being only a personal trainer, but more of a life coach.
Hoffman listened intently to my concerns about running alone and in time and with coaxing, he helped me gain confidence in my ability to trust my pacemaker/defibrillator. I ventured out of my comfort zone and felt confident in a slow jog by myself! For the first time in almost six months and after a near death experience, I had re-entered the running world.
I also had the honor of speaking for a nationally recognized heart association about my life-changing experience with a congenital heart defect. I was nervous to speak in front of strangers about a very personal and traumatic event that seemed surreal, yet happened to me. Coach Hofman encouraged me before the speaking event by providing helpful suggestions on how to stay relaxed and confident while public speaking. I am grateful for the time and effort he spent, completely for free because of what I had experienced and my tie to the fire department, on the fitness training. More importantly, I appreciate the customized mentorship he provided me through the most unexpected and difficult time of my life.