Rick, 60, has had thoracic outlet syndrome for 30 years, meaning blood vessels or nerves in the space between his collarbone and first rib (thoracic outlet) are compressed. This has meant pain and decreased mobility in his upper body.

He was never given options on how to deal with his pain, other than to have surgery, but he says, “I wanted to avoid surgery at all costs.”

His daughter urged him to try an exercise class led by the CRPCN’s kinesiologist, Kristen Braid. It was geared towards those new to exercise, and those dealing with a chronic condition. He says, “I was the only male, the youngest in class, and probably the most fit, but we did these exercises, and I texted Kristen the next day and said, ‘I feel like taking a bullet!’ and in fact, Kristen didn’t even know if he was going to return.

But at the following class, she brought a report on thoracic outlet syndrome about how, in the last 5-7 years, there have been a lot of breakthroughs. They also talked about how she thinks his right shoulder could be causing the pain in his hips. Rick says, “I’ve learned that everything is tied together.”

“One thing Kristen really brought to my attention is knowing about my limits. I’ve always just worked through things and put up with the pain. In my case, ‘no pain, no gain’ is not true. Kristen taught me about knowing my limits and working within them.”

He says he learned more in four weeks in her Learn to Move class than he had in the previous 30 years about what he can and can’t do. Kristen provided workarounds for ways to accomplish tasks, showed him the things he should avoid that aggravate his condition, and emphasized his strengths.

He says that one of Kristen’s strengths is that “she has such a positive attitude and she’s taught us that a positive attitude is key.”

Thanks to the daily exercises and stretches he now does, Rick has returned to some physical activity – something that hasn’t been part of his routine for the last 15 years. He has also taken up archery again, and plans to start hunting again in the fall. He says, “I haven’t done that in many years. Plus, I can do so much more with my grandkids, so I’m looking forward to all of that.”

He has a friend who is looking at surgery for his arthritis, and says, “I’ve asked Kristen to join us for lunch to see if she has any thoughts on what he can do to possibly avoid the surgery.”

Rick is a big fan of the PCN, and says, “I’ve already told my GP – and really, everyone I meet – how happy I am with Kristen’s class – and with all the health professionals I’ve met through the PCN.” He says he’d like everyone to know how much the PCN can offer.

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Although Rick continued with another program Kristen offers – Build Your Moves – for another four weeks (and is signing up for another this fall!), Kristen offers enough instruction, and shows enough options that participants can continue their progress on their own once the initial four weeks is up.

Kristen provides a welcoming atmosphere, because she knows that getting back to exercise is intimidating for many. She loves it when clients say they feel “safe” in her class, and that they don’t feel pushed beyond their limits.