Font ResizeA A A

Jim Wade - 2013 Spirit of Wellness Honoree

“Life will knock you down at times, and if you don’t build yourself back up, you’ll stay down. It’s not realistic to think you won’t face adversity,” says Center for Health and Fitness (CHF) member Jim Wade, 63, who knows first-hand how challenging life can sometimes be.

In the past four years, Jim has undergone four surgeries, ranging from carpal tunnel repair in both wrists to nerve relocation in his elbow, and two rounds of chemotherapy for low-grade lymphoma.  The cancer, diagnosed in 2009, is causing peripheral neuropathy – rapid nerve degradation – in his arms and legs. The loss of nerve function makes everyday tasks like walking up stairs or buttoning a shirt challenging affairs.

However, Jim isn’t the type to lie down and quit.  An engineer by trade, he’s always looking for innovative solutions and ways to build himself back up. 

“I’ve fixed my inability to button shirts by using paperclips to thread the buttons through,” says Jim.  “But when it came to my balance, physical fitness and well-being, I knew there was no substitute for good old-fashioned exercise.  My first thought was to get a bicycle, but my wife encouraged me to join CHF.  So I did.”

Jim became a member at CHF in 2009 and immediately signed up for personal training sessions.  He was paired with long-time trainer Derick Malit, who began designing workouts to improve Jim’s balance, grip and overall strength. 

“Derick’s great because he pushes me to do things I don’t want to do but need to do, like balance,” says Jim.  “And he keeps it fresh.  I doubt we’ve ever done the same workout twice.”

Since joining, Jim has continued to work out at CHF two times a week on his own, in addition to his scheduled personal training sessions with Derick. 

“I do my best not to deviate from my exercise regimen,” says Jim.  “Even when I was taking anti-performance-enhancing drugs (chemotherapy), I managed to maintain my strength and mobility, and even made progress in some areas.  It certainly wasn’t easy, but nothing worth doing ever is.”

Ask Derick what impresses him most about Jim and he expresses a similar sentiment, “His dedication and toughness.  Despite several surgeries and multiple rounds of chemo, he’s continued to come to CHF and exercise.  He doesn’t let life’s hurdles or obstacles keep him from achieving what he wants to do.  He’s inspirational and he continues to make great progress.”

In the past three years, Jim has improved his stability, grip and strength considerably.  He regularly takes the stairs rather than the elevator, does multiple repetitions on the pull-up bar and benches nearly 200 pounds, a feat Jim says he couldn’t do even in his prime.

“I’m 63 years old and can honestly say I’m in better shape now that I was in high school.  I’ve never worked out like this before and it’s serving me well.  I feel better, and I’m much more confident.”

As someone who certainly doesn’t look for the path of least resistance, Jim, true to form, prefers workouts that incorporate heavy free-weights, which require a strong grip, excellent balance and strength – characteristics that peripheral neuropathy destroys. 

But apparently no one told Jim that.

“He’s repping 55-pound dumbbells consistently, which is outstanding for someone with limited function in his arms and hands,” says Derick.  “Jim’s up to 190 pounds on bench-press, too.  It’s incredible how far he has come in the last few years.  And I know he’s got more in him… I believe he will bench 225 pounds if he keeps up the hard work.”

It may come as a surprise to some that according to industry studies, the average healthy male can bench-press roughly 128 pounds, or 62 pounds less than Jim. 

But then again, Jim Wade has proven he isn’t an average man.