Just three months after fracturing her ankle in four places, supermodel Bonnie Chen, a former rhythmic gymnastics national champion in China, pushed through pain to power to the finish line of the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco. Her quick, inspiring comeback can be largely attributed to her work with TRX Instructor and CORE member Justin Thomas Sanchez in the weeks leading up to the race.
Sanchez said when he first met with Bonnie, it looked like “someone had attached a softball to her ankle.” She suffered the injury on the job while channeling her inner gymnast on a trampoline during a Diesel Jeans photoshoot. That’s when Nike called on Sanchez to help Chen achieve the short term goal of getting to the finish line of her upcoming race, and just as importantly, the long term goal of getting her back out on the runway in massive heels. “Our ultimate goal is to get her back on the runway, that’s her livelihood,” said Sanchez. “The work that I’ve been doing is a runners-style workout, putting in mileage. But also, there’s cross training days that we have to take. That’s where the TRX made the perfect fit.”
A 22-year fitness industry veteran, Sanchez has worked with many high-profile clients like Rod Stewart and Rachel Hunter, but he admits that working with Chen has been a learning experience for him. “This is the first time I’ve been hired to help someone from Nike with an injury like this. Quite a bit of adjustments. The first two or three meetings were just about understanding her triggers, what triggers the spiking pain and how to get around it,” he said.
He’s incorporated TRX Suspension Training into her rehab sessions about twice a week, and always has to remain mindful of her injury, carefully selecting exercises--like TRX squats, lunges and planks-- that keep her pain to a minimum. “I had to be cautious with her in the initial phases. I just chose exercises that I thought would be easy to do, give her confidence and take into consideration her ankle,” he said.
But as a self-proclaimed risk taker who once moved to LA with $500 in his pocket to chase his personal training dreams, and later even moved overseas to Malaysia to seize another career opportunity, Sanchez always rises to a challenge. “Keep an open mind, and take every opportunity you can to learn. You can learn from every situation whether it be a good or bad one. My saving grace has been being willing and able to take risks,” he said. With Chen’s half-marathon finish (her first ever), another risk has paid off.
In an effort to share Chen’s inspirational story, Sanchez has recorded her training sessions with Google Glass, a tool he says has helped him stay more connected to his clients than older technology. “I’ve been using it right now to record shots of my clients doing exercises and go back and review them, to check their pattern of movement or in Bonnie’s case, checking gait,” he said. “It’s a little less disconnected than say, pulling out a cell phone and doing that. I can still keep in conversation and keep in stride with my client at the same time the video is running and sometimes they don’t even know it’s going.” Watch footage from Chen’s TRX sessions in the media player above.
Sanchez hopes Chen’s story will help others overcome obstacles in pursuit of their goals. “She took it as sort of an opportunity to share with her followers the comeback. Not saying, “I can’t do this anymore,” but more of, “I can get back on my feet and so can you,’” said Sanchez. “I think her sharing her road back is going to be really inspirational for people, both people that have suffered an injury or people that have become inactive and want to get started again. They can use this as some sort of motivation to get back to an exercise regime, get to a gym or buy a TRX and start working out and home, whatever it might be.”
Want to take risks like Sanchez and pursure your personal training goals? Get started by taking a TRX Education Course and get TRX Qualified today.