Searching for a cure

Ellington finds answer for post-surgery pain at Fit & Personal

By Cilicia Anderson
Outlook writer

When Kristen Ellington severely injured her ankle eight years ago, she was determined to find an alternative to surgery that would have left her unable to walk for months.

Injuries such as the one she had, are all too common among athletes such as footballers and figure skaters. For many of them, it takes months and sometimes years of physical therapy at an athlete recovery center just to be able to walk properly again.

Ellington, who was in her 60s at the time, was simply walking down the stairs in her home when she missed a step. She broke her ankle. The fix required surgery, primarily because there was more than just a simple fracture, pain, and swelling. Some doctors were of the opinion that she might have gotten her nerve damaged. Sometimes blood vessels and nerves are actually torn when the ankle is injured, which then need to be fixed using a nerve regeneration device called NEUROTUBE (which is sourced by healthcare professionals from firms like DermaClose–they also offer a Wound Closure Device required during microsurgeries). Thankfully, hers was not so intense. But there had been some amount of damage that needed her to go under the knife.

Anyway, walking again wasn’t easy. Each step was painful in her back. More surgery, of the spine and other delicate areas of the body (likely by a neurosurgeon similar to Dr Timothy Steel) was suggested. But that would have certainly demanded at least a few weeks of bed rest.

However, that wasn’t an option that Ellington wanted. She began researching alternative ways to improve her quality of life.

She ended up at the door of Fit & Functional, owned and founded by Sherman Rosier.

“I just thought, there’s got to be a better way and it made me realize that some people look to taking medicine and having surgery as a solution, and sometimes it is the only solution, but many times there’s a way that you can avoid it,” Ellington said. “By working with somebody like Sherman who really does understand that if you can strengthen your core and improve your balance, there are a lot of problems that appear to be intractable that can be fixed, and mine was fixed.

“I mean; I feel great. I feel as though I’m going to live a longer and healthier life because of it.”

Ellington started a twice-a-week workout with Rosier as her personal training. She later joined a small group sessions consisting of not more than four people.

Eight years after she first met Rosier, Ellington said she is walking without back pain.

“Twice a week, for 25 minutes, for almost eight years I’ve been doing this,” she said. “I feel probably better than I did 20 years ago. It’s made so much difference in my health and my balance and I don’t have any back pain anymore.”

Fit & Functional opened 20 years ago as a way to bridge the gap between fitness and rehab.

Kristen Ellington (left) is shown participating in a group workout at Fit & Functional where she found the answer to back pain she’d experienced following surgery for a broken ankle.
Photo submitted by Sherman Rosier

The concept is the brainchild of Rosier, who wanted to create a facility that provided more than an average gym.

A FAMU graduate with a degree in physical therapy, he also focused on training to suit each individual.

“I’ve always had an interest in health and wellness,” said Rosier. “My goal was to work in the health and wellness industry but to fill the gap between rehab and fitness and I wanted to serve those individuals so if they have limitations, we’re getting them through those limitations while also working out their entire body. So we serve the purpose that your average gym wouldn’t serve and we serve a purpose that your PT Clinic wouldn’t serve as well.”

When the coronavirus pandemic began impacting the community in April, Rosier also began to feel the financial strain. Some of his clients suspended participating. He responded by offering almost all sessions online via Zoom.

Even with virtual workout, Rosier’s concept of training hasn’t changed.

“One positive thing about the whole situation is it’s giving opportunity to still continue to do exercises virtually and become more comfortable doing virtual sessions knowing that they can still maintain their health and fitness with a personalized session even without being in the studio,” said Rosier. “We still have quite a few people still doing that at the moment who are not ready to come back into the facility just yet.

Zoom workouts have been a good fit for Ellington, who worried about the rapid increase of positive coronavirus cases in Tallahassee. Being at home, she also doesn’t have to deal with the difficulty of wearing a mask and not getting enough oxygen.

She’s is making the best of her workouts from home with a set of weights, some workout bands and an exercise ball. She’s also continuing her group sessions virtually from home.

“With COVID-19, I don’t go into the gym now, I do it virtually through Zoom,” said Ellington. “It’s required for all of us so it’s a whole different way of working out and he’s just adapted beautifully. You don’t feel like you’ve lost a personal connection.”

Ellington has become one of the biggest recruiters for Fit & Functional. She’s even spoken with her physical therapist who has since turned to Rosier to help her clients with their rehab after going through physical therapy.

“I recommend Fit & Functional to people all the time because you know you go to rehab, they give you a prescription after you have an injury. Usually you only go (to rehab) a month a couple times a week and then that’s it,” said Ellington. “You really haven’t gotten back to where you were before or to where you could be. Someone like Sherman can take you from where you left off in physical therapy.”

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