“If you’re sore, do more,” that is one of the many mantras William ‘Bill’ Brow uses to motivate himself.
Brow’s sister Karen, seeing him regularly work out and push himself to improve, refers to her brother as “a walking miracle.”
Brow has contended with some serious challenges to overcome, over the course of the last 36 years.
“I’m a survivor,” Brow said, while cooling off from one of his weekly workouts with his personal trainer, Spencer Morse, at the local Goodlife gym in Antigonish.
“I’m balancing now, but after my accident they told me I was going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.”
Being in a wheelchair was not the plan, Brow explained, balancing one leg.
“In five months, I went from a wheelchair to a walker, to walking like an infant when I started in the gym,” Brow explained.
Nowadays, Brow has none of that trouble, moving about the gym on College Street with ease and confidence that has inspired his family and friends.
After sustaining a serious head injury after falling from a tank and landing on his head in a workplace accident, Brow has been making incredible strides toward recovery – and beyond.
“He was given last rites; nobody expected him to live, never mind stand up and walk,” Karen said of the accident. “It’s amazing that he’s come so far.”
In addition to doctors expecting him to have far more serious mobility issues, Karen said her brother wasn’t expected to even be able to see, since he suffered optic nerve damage from the fall.
None of that stopped Brow. In addition to training himself to stand and walk again, Brow regularly trains his eyesight with the help of Morse, at the gym.
“We started with the basics,” Morse explained. “At first, he couldn’t walk or stand, but we worked up to bigger things. He returned to being able to intelligibly walk. Now he can sturdily walk.”
Once Brow was able to move around again, the training built on what he had accomplished.
Nowadays, Brow can be found setting goals and crushing them, a short drive into town from his home in Heatherton.
What originally started as modest local walks through the neighbourhood eventually became a greater challenge in the gym, with the help of Morse’s personal training regime.
“As a sister, some days I’ll see him off to catch the bus, and stand there thinking, ‘oh my God, he’s here by the grace of God.’” Karen said. “I’m so proud of him. I wish I had a half of his gumption.”
Karen noted it has not always been a walk in the park for Brow, who has used drugs as a way to deal with his troubles.
“He overcame that and has never touched that stuff in probably 15 years,” Karen said.
After overcoming that hurdle, that was when Brow had decided to start his training and began to walk.
These walks grew in length, and eventually Brow was often seen touring the community of Heatherton on foot. It was from that point that the training had begun.
The next step forward was a treadmill. Soon the focus on fitness led Brow to seek a regimented training schedule at the Goodlife gym in town.
Now, he trains three times a week.
“What Spencer, Brow’s personal trainer, has done for him is amazing,” Karen said. “Pretty good for a guy who was never supposed to walk again.”
What encourages Karen the most about her brother and Morse and their regular workouts is that Morse was the end of a long line of other trainers, in other gyms, “who wrote him off.”
Despite many he has worked with saying he was a lost cause, Brow persevered in his efforts and eventually found a trainer who was as willing to stick with him, as he was to stick with his ambitious plans.
“Spencer stepped up to the plate, and said, ‘I want to work with him, he will help me with my patience and I know I can help him.’” Karen said.
According to Karen, Brow has walked cumulatively more than 10,000 miles as of Christmas-time 2018, and holds himself to a regimen of weight training at the gym.
“He walks more upright now, and he’s in better control of his emotions. He’s an absolute miracle,” Karen said.
“If that was me, and that happened to me, I can’t say I would have bothered. He came from a jelly state, lying there, unable to talk or speak. His circulation was wrong, and he couldn’t blink.”
Whether training Brow’s eyesight with depth perception exercises, or stability and balance, Morse noted he applies the same principle in every exercise he recommends for Brow – the principle of rehabilitation.
“We’re challenging strength, whether its eyesight or a muscle, and eventually working it back up to its full range of motion,” Morse said.
“Brow had a large trauma to the head, and at first his memory was inaccessible. He was dealt a crap hand and told he wasn’t going to walk again,” Morse explained. “We’re reteaching the body to move with this training.”
If you ask Brow, that training has been paying off in spades.
Brow noted that before he started training, he felt much older than his age. Now, when he goes to the gym; “I feel like I’m at an ageless age, super young at heart” he said.
Brow was effusive in his praise of the virtues of working out in general, noting, “it’s the utmost fantastic thing a person can do, period. I don’t know why doctors don’t prescribe the gym to more people.
“My balance has improved so much. I used to have to take a minute when I got up to get my balance before I could do anything,” Brow said. “That’s not the case anymore. Now I can get up, and – bang – once I’m up I can go do things faster.”
In addition to his training, Brow has been making good use of his improved eyesight and coordination. He regularly reads and practices guitar.
“All I can say is yee-haw,” Brow quipped, finishing up his cooldown stretches and exercises at the end of a morning workout. “It’s fantastic.”
There have been many people, including friends and family, who helped Brow get to where he is today.
However, Karen noted, before the influence of anyone else, she credited her brother’s own tenacity – the main motivating force behind everything he has accomplished.
“He never stops wanting to do something to better himself. He has a lot of obstacles, but he overcomes them,” Karen said.
“Spencer has been there to help light a fire. The passion has always been there, but Spencer always helps bring it to fruition.”