Fitness is one of the most powerful things we have control of in our lives. It can take you to places you’ve never imagined, and it can take you out of situations you never want to be in. Here is a true story of how fitness did just that.
Meet Matt Lockwood, a 6-foot, 184-pound athletic, smart and personable medical sales rep from Ohio. You can find Matt always in shape, working out, running, working and most of all, you will probably find him smiling and talking with whoever is around him. As an athlete his entire life, Matt always made fitness a priority. He ate the right foods, worked his ass off and made sure he stayed in tip-top shape. He knew that fitness was important, but he had no idea just how important it was. His doctors say that his fitness level is the reason he is able to walk, talk and function today.
Last year, Matt Lockwood went through the most tragic day of his 36-year-old life. In a matter of moments, Matt went from enjoying one of the most beautiful views you could ever find, to finding himself buried in sand and rocks at the bottom of a 30-foot cliff, and paralyzed. In a matter of moments, Matt’s life completely changed forever.
This is a true story of motivation; comeback and an unending quest to get back what life had taken from him (temporarily).
It was summer of 2016, and Matt was outside enjoying an end-of-summer vacation in Vancouver, British Columbia. Vancouver is one of the most beautiful places to visit on earth. He had finally made the trip there, and could not be more excited to spend time with his friends and explore everything Vancouver had to offer. –Ben Boudro
Here is Matt’s story, told by him. When you see “BB” that’s me, Ben Boudro, telling you the view from my end.
After dinner, my friends and I walked into a park across the street that was located on the beautiful bay in Vancouver. The entire bay area of Vancouver has cliffs and bluffs surrounding it. We were tossing a Frisbee back and forth, just enjoying the night. My buddy overthrew the Frisbee, so I ran to go get it. Because it had gotten dark, I didn’t realize that I was in a dangerous area. The next thing I remember is that I was at the bottom of a 30-foot cliff.
BB: He had fallen 30 feet down into rocks, sand, trees and dirt.
I would go in and out of consciousness for brief moments at a time. I was aware of what had happened, but my arms were pinned behind my back and my face was buried in the dirt. I was unable to move, and it felt like there was a knife stabbed into my back. I could hear my friends yelling my name from the top, and I could see flashlights coming out toward me through the trees.
For some reason, there was a peace that came over me.
Due to the terrain, I was taken by hovercraft across the bay to an awaiting ambulance. The paramedics said I was awake and responsive the entire ride to the hospital and while being assessed in the ER. I have no memory of any of this. They found a subdural hematoma (collection of blood outside the brain), and I was taken in for emergency surgery to relieve the pressure and stop the bleeding.
They kept me in a drug-induced coma until 4:00 p.m. the next day, and my next memory is being handcuffed to a hospital bed with a breathing tube in my mouth. When I woke, the medical staff immediately informed me I had been in an accident, that I had already received brain surgery, and I would require an additional surgery for the C6 burst fracture in my neck. I was paralyzed on the right side of my body, and my future was uncertain.
Six days later, I went back into surgery to address the C6 fracture and hopefully alleviate the neuropathic pain.
What was it like at first?
Surprisingly, I was quite calm and peaceful for most of the experience. Being a very active person with sports and fitness as a large part of my life, I would have expected to be much more panicked. As the days went on, the doctors couldn’t tell me if I would regain motion in my arm, or even if I’d be able to walk again. All they could tell me is that if these things were going to return, it would take a very long time.
The neuropathic pain in the days between my surgeries was nearly unbearable, but I knew if I wanted to regain motion in the dominant side of my body, I would have to try to do something every day. I would wake up and focus on one finger, or one toe, and just try to put all my energy into moving that one part of my body. It was mentally and physically exhausting, beyond belief.
I’d be awake for one hour, and then sleep the next four. That was the cycle for the first week. Slowly, over the next couple of weeks, I regained small twitches and motion, bit by bit. I was losing weight daily, and extremely weak from lack of movement or the ability to eat.
I was able to take my first couple of steps by the end of my second week in the hospital. I knew this was the start of a long journey, but I just kept thinking about all the things I wanted to do, all the places I wanted to see, and I didn’t want to do them in a wheelchair.
What helped you keep pushing?
My family and the friends who were with me in Vancouver supported me each day. The pain I would see in their faces was far greater than the pain I was experiencing. I knew inside that if I pushed myself harder than I ever had, I could get back to where I was before. In order to show them that I was going to be OK, I pushed myself a little bit further each day.
BB: Talk about having brass balls! It’s unbelievable how mentally tough Matt is for him to stay positive throughout this process.
Finally home, but not the same
I was flown back to the United States three weeks after my accident. I had another three weeks of inpatient rehab. I continued to heal, and I started to build strength through their daily program. They used a robotic suit and stimulation techniques to teach me how to walk again.
Initially, I was told I’d be in rehab for 90 days, but I pushed myself and was released after three weeks. In just six weeks total time, I had lost 30 pounds and the vast majority of my muscle mass. I left rehab at 157 pounds and a shadow of my former self. Battling nerve issues and having muscles that wouldn’t fire, I knew it was going to take a lot of work and I would be fighting an uphill battle to rebuild myself physically. Mentally, I felt stronger and more grounded than ever.
As soon as I got the OK, I started going to the gym six days a week, just as I had before the accident. It certainly wasn’t the same. I could barely bench press the bar by myself. I didn’t have enough strength in my hands to hold 10-pound dumbbells, and I had absolutely no balance at all. Going to the gym by myself like I used to just was not going to cut it. I knew I was going to need additional help for this, and that’s when I reached out to Ben Boudro.
BB: When he first reached out to me, I had no idea about his accident. I heard a little bit about it, but had no idea it was that bad. He showed up to my office at 157 pounds and looked like a completely different guy. He told me that he was able to do it all, and his doctors cleared him. He said he wanted to start in two weeks and wanted to go “all in.”
The look in his eyes is something I’ll never forget. He had a look of focus, motivation and sheer determination behind his eyes. I felt like he looked through my soul when he talked about how bad he wanted to get back. I was honored, to say the least, that he came to me first.
- We sat down and talked nutrition. We amped up his protein and healthy carb intake, with added healthy fats.
- We came up with a schedule.
- We went to effin work.
Training was three times per week and consisted of full-body sessions. The first session was rough. He could barely walk right or even pick up a weight. We started SLOW … and in just one week, we had his nervous system firing a little bit better. We incorporated ladders, balance and strength— and before I knew it, we were doing everything!
His success has been nothing short of remarkable. After each session, I’d be like, “Holy shit, this guy does not stop!”
- He was 10 minutes early for every session.
- He never, ever complained once.
- He listened to my direction for nutrition and workout advice.
- He smiled, had fun and even gave encouragement to the athletes and adults working out near him.
- He chased it.
In six weeks, here is what happened:
You can see in the video the look on his face as the weeks went on. His face filled in. He began to add weight to the bar; he did everything I threw at him with the utmost energy and focus.
He chased it, and inspired the HELL out of all of us.
I’ve been working with Ben and the Xceleration Fitness for a little over six weeks now. I went from a scrawny 157 pounds to today, where I’m standing at 177 pounds with 14 percent body fat and I have my abs back. Xceleration Fitness completely changed my physical appearance. They’ve added that physical confidence that I once had and there’s no doubt that by sticking with them, they will take me beyond what I ever thought I could get. I’m extremely thankful!
What did you learn from this experience?
I wouldn’t change a thing. This accident has changed my life for the better in so many ways. My relationship with my family is stronger, my priorities have shifted, and all the little things that we tend to stress about in life have gone to the wayside.
I wake up each day and I’m genuinely thankful not only for what I have, but for being alive and having the ability to make the most of it. Hopefully, I can find a way to be influential in other people’s lives in some capacity. We all go through ups and downs, we all have our challenges, and sometimes we forget that there is always someone going through something more challenging than what we’re experiencing.
I’ve learned to slow down, and I’ve learned to truly appreciate life and its experiences. I know now more than ever, that I want to be able to help other people. I’ve also learned that it doesn’t matter how much money you have, it doesn’t matter how successful you are, it doesn’t matter what you want to do with your life … if you don’t have your health and you don’t take care of yourself, then it can all be lost in the blink of an eye.
BB: Matt ends with that because, with all of his success, his doctors attribute his speedy recovery to the state of health he was in before the accident. His fitness levels saved his life.
You never, ever, ever, ever, know what life will throw at you. One second, Matt is a 35-year-old, in-shape adult, chilling with his friends. The next second, he’s 30 feet down and paralyzed.
Freak accidents happen, and most of the time they are something we can’t control. What we can control is how we treat our bodies, what we eat, whether or not we work out, how we treat people, how we make people feel … oh yeah, and WE CONTROL OUR LEVEL OF FITNESS.
Fitness is one of the most powerful things we have control of in our lives. It can take you to places you’ve never imagined AND it can take you out of situations you never want to be in.
Matt Lockwood is rewriting his life story, beginning with fitness. How will you write your story?