Hello I'm Rob Cowell, PT, the author of whyiexercise.com. Thank you for visiting!
I'm a physical therapist with a special interest in promoting long term health through exercise. My inspiration to create this website came from my most challenging clients and patients. Their health problems were so severe that it was difficult to make a great deal of progress with their rehabilitation.
I kept wondering what would my patients and I have achieved if we had met 10-15 years earlier, before they became so sick?
Now I have a way to turn back the clock! whyiexercise.com gives you tools to help you get well before pain or disability begins to slow your life down. Take advantage of the knowledge I accumulated over 16 years of physical therapy practice helping people of all ages and ability levels. The articles and videos in this site also come from my experiences as an athlete and my years of practice learning and teaching a number of effective fitness methods.
My journey toward building whyiexercise.com has been lifelong. From a very early age, I had been reading about how the body works, and I became fascinated specifically by the way the body adapted to exercise. I always enjoyed the process of getting into shape for high school sports, and as a college cross country runner, it was exhilarating for me to be able to run fast for long distances without fatiguing!
To me, physical therapy seemed to be the best way that I could apply myself to help others, and after college I began my career as a therapist working in an orthopedic office. I was drawn to our patients with chronic pain; many of them had tried all kinds of medical treatments and weren't getting much better. I felt that there must be a way for them to get well, so I studied a number of physical therapy methods, as many as 6 seminars per year! I took the best of what I learned to help my patients with spine-related pain.
I felt fulfilled to offer relief to people who had been suffering for years, but I could tell my solution was incomplete. I knew that inactivity was a big part of the problem. The exercises I was giving my patients helped with their mobility, but I hadn't found a good way to build their fitness. Somehow I needed to get their sensitive muscles and joints moving enough to make them stronger. I needed to immerse myself in a new environment to make this change, so I moved across the country to find work in fitness-oriented rehab centers.
I started by using Pilates exercise in rehab. I found that patients responded well to exercises that taught them to control their muscles and joints. I took seminars and studied videos--I could see the applications for fitness as well. As my skills improved, I began teaching exercise classes, beginners through advanced. When I saw that I could help many people make progress at once, I knew that I was on the right track. I continued exploring the world of fitness, both for myself and for my patients.
About a year later, I had an opportunity to travel to Germany to study a sophisticated exercise method that was helping prevent work-related lower back pain. The machines tested clients for imbalances in muscular performance, and then we designed exercise routines to focus on the muscles that tested weak. I found the equipment to be outstanding for strength training and testing, but to me, the high cost made this method impractical. I wanted to find fitness methods that would be accessible for more people.
One of my colleagues who trained with me in Germany told me about P90X, a 12 week series of intense home exercise routines on DVD. I was intrigued, and after completing this program I had learned to push myself with strength training just as hard as I had with my running workouts in the past. Then, with my new found interest in strength training, I visited my friend Eric Talmant (a national class powerlifter), who taught me proper technique for what became my favorite weightlifting move, the deadlift.
Later, while working out at the beach, I met 2 new friends who introduced me to gymnastics exercise. These guys were incredibly strong, especially for their age, and I soon found out why. Gymnastics exercises blend movement skill development, like Pilates, with the challenge and intense effort of advanced strength training. One of my favorite parts about gymnastics exercise is that there's always a new challenge or skill to learn. Three years later, I'm still working out with Tony and Chuck. I enjoy the workouts and I appreciate my friends' example of maintaining an elite level of fitness even as you get older.
Still searching for my professional niche, I started working with the elderly population, which gave me yet another perspective on exercise and health. With my developing background knowledge, I came up with creative ways to train their endurance, strength and flexibility simultaneously (at a scaled down level, of course). It was amazing for me to see how much stronger we can become, even at an advanced age.
While fitness can improve at any age, serious disease processes can make exercising very difficult. It was with several of my elderly patients that I saw the ways chronic disease can damage a person's well-being. It’s so sad to see the basic functions of the body breaking down, and as I got to know these clients, it became clear to me that their extreme suffering was unnecessary. Obesity, for example, easily leads to diabetes, with lost limbs, nerve damage and blindness. My experiences truly drove the message home, as I had to make two 9-1-1 calls within a week’s time.
By this time I had seen enough. I had become extremely motivated to steer people away from senseless suffering so that they can enjoy more years of high quality, productive life. I began to review health research to see how much evidence supported regular exercise and a healthy diet. The number of studies in the field was overwhelming to me.
I have been learning how much everyday lifestyle choices affect longevity, risk of chronic disease, quality of life, and health care costs. The amount of physical activity needed to prevent the most common health problems has been proven and established globally. Knowing that many people don't get the exercise they need, I designed whyiexercise.com to help people overcome their barriers to a healthy active lifestyle.
Because of my life journey, my experience and my passion to see others do well, whyiexercise.com is unique among the many health and fitness sites on the web. Thanks to my physical therapy experience and all of my practice teaching exercise, the exercise videos and illustrations are precise, helping you get the most benefit with the least risk of injury. I am excited to continue adding to the website so I can help as many people as possible.
Thanks again for visiting!
Rob Cowell, PT
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