What Happens When a Young Trainer Suffers a Stroke?

by Jonah Freedman
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What Happens When a Young Trainer Suffers a Stroke?

Personal trainers are supposed to be gladiators. They glide into our early morning sessions sporting intensity, enthusiasm, some tough love to get us in shape and a physique that makes us say, “Man, I’d love to look like that.”

Rick Logan is that guy. As a trainer in Baltimore, the 27-year-old has put dozens of clients through brutal sessions to help them toughen up. And he practices what what he preaches, working out incessantly to the point of exhaustion.

“He is an animal,” says colleague Kimberly Hanson. “He has this huge personality. When he walks into a room, you know he’s there.”

But that’s where the narrative starts to fall apart. It happened a year ago; Logan never could’ve guess he suffered from a rare medical condition that would leave him unable to walk at all. That he would have to summon every ounce of his will, strength and determination to get his physical prowess back. Or that he would have to buy in fully to the simple acts of using MyFitnessPal and UA Record — which he never fully understood — to help get him back on his feet.

A FIT REVELATION

Logan made a career shift into fitness in his early 20s. Not that he was inspired to become a gym rat, but because he went through a fitness journey with his father, Rick Sr., who suffered a stroke in his 30s. Growing up, young Rick had no idea how to help his dad, who lost feeling on his left side and struggled through a grueling rehab.

What he did know is the experience of working out alongside his dad, who eventually got back on his feet, wasn’t just physically fulfilling, it was spiritual as well.

“We were in fitness together,” Logan explains. “My father and I started training programs together, and it was a bonding thing because we were never close when I was growing up.”

Quickly, Logan decided personal training was for him. He soon began working at FX Studios, a trio of Baltimore-area health clubs that sport the UA Connected Fitness brand and philosophy. At his peak, he had a regular roster of 30–40 individual clients in addition to multiple group sessions per week.

Work grind

A post shared by Rick Logan (@rick_logan) on

He had no idea what was coming. After an evening of socializing in April 2016, Logan woke up with a searing headache at 3 a.m. He got out of bed to use the bathroom and immediately fell over, but didn’t think much of it. “I thought it was the beer,” he laughs. “I had only had like three and my first thought was, ‘I’m such a lightweight.’”

He went back to bed and got up at 5 to see a client. But things got progressively worse. He couldn’t drive his car in a straight line on his way to work. Twenty minutes into working with his client, he couldn’t even stand. He finished the session, but went home and got back in bed, thinking he had fallen ill with a flu.

By 11 a.m., he realized in horror he couldn’t move the left side of his body. He had a friend rush him to a local outpatient clinic, and struggled even to use his phone, which he kept dropping.

“That’s when it dawned on me,” he recalls. “I was having a stroke. I was going through exactly what happened to my dad.”

Subsequent doctor visits gave Logan a diagnosis he had never expected: a rare blood disorder called antiphospholipid antibody syndrome, which causes rapid blood clots. In Logan’s case, doctors believed he had an arterial tear somewhere in his neck. Medication could get his condition in check; what he would have to do on his own was regain the ability to move and walk properly. Returning to his old life was no guarantee.

“I had prided myself on keeping a certain aesthetic,” he explains. “I like to look a certain way and be healthy. Doing elaborate workouts was just something I did. I don’t think I truly appreciated that after seeing what my father went through. But at the time, I remember having this realization: ‘Am I ever going to be able to do this again?’”


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Logan’s doctors prescribed him heavy physical therapy sessions, and he was fortunate: The staff at FX Studios Physical Therapy committed immediately to giving him the treatment he needed. Within days, he was working two hours or more with therapists. But being the proud man he was, Logan was frustrated with his inability to do simple things like raise his left arm.

“My muscles went away pretty quick,” he says. “It was almost unbearable, to be honest.”

That’s when he figured he’d set a series of small goals. That started with logging his food on MyFitnessPal and his physical activity — limited though it was — with UA Record.

“I figured if that’s what I could do, I’ll do it,” he recalls. “I’m not going to sit on the couch and feel sorry for myself. Each week I tracked and saw a snapshot of what I’d done. That first week, I couldn’t even do a pushup. But with each week that passed, I could go back to that first week and see what I couldn’t do. It helped motivate me.”

It also marked the time when Logan became a Connected Fitness convert, which he admits he “had never bought into” previously, despite the logo on the door of his workplace.

BACK ON HIS FEET

Logan’s rehab was slow, but steady. He worked with Hanson — a physical therapist and clinic director at FX — regularly. She started with the basics of strengthening his core. It was a fine line, she explains, between pushing him to where he felt like he was making progress and adjusting when he simply couldn’t physically accomplish basic exercises.

“You could tell he was still positive for sure,” Hanson remembers. “But you could also tell he was sort of scared and unsure how it would all go. It was clear he had a stroke. The left side of his body was extremely weak.”

But Logan’s “animal” nature helped him more than most people. Because he was in such good shape, his body was able to rediscover the pathways that reactivated his neuromuscular system quicker. And because he was logging his diet on MyFitnessPal and his activity, exercise and sleep in UA Record, he and the FX staff were better able to contour his rehab program to meet his body’s progress.

Within an amazing three weeks after suffering the episodes, he was walking without the cane he had relied on. Not long after, he was doing regular exercises like glute bridges. Next came the row machine or stationary bike. Eventually, he was lifting weights again. Today, he’s even running a little bit.

He’s not all the way back — and in fact, like his father, he probably never will be. But “to look at him now, you’d never know” he had a stroke, according to Hanson. And most important, he’s back to doing what he loves most: working with clients. Logan is now the fitness manager at the FX Studios 10 Light Street location in downtown Baltimore, just across the Inner Harbor from Under Armour’s global headquarters, and still works with 20–25 clients per week.

He’s been humbled, he admits, and takes nothing for granted anymore. But he also admits he’s been educated: Ironically, without this experience, he may never have fully understood what Connected Fitness could do for his understanding of his own body.

“I’ve learned through this process that it’s not just one thing that goes into your fitness,” he says. “There’s sleep, exercise, nutrition, stress, your energy levels — there are so many things that go into it that if you ignore one of them, you’re just not going to get to where you want to be.”

Logan is indeed back to where he wants to be: in the gym, pushing people to be their very best.

Photo courtesy of Shawn Hubbard Photography

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  • Tiffany

    I was a healthy athlete and had a stroke when I was 14.

  • KIM

    Wow well done Logan ,you’re amazing xxx
    I too had 2 strokes similar to you called Wallenberg’s syndrome where my right vertebral artery severed.
    I was 50 but very fit in fact I had just been matched for a fight ! ( boxing had nothing to do with the stroke )
    I had to learn to walk etc .But did it !!! Still got a few issues but have been doing Xfit for 4 years now.
    I’m sorry if it comes across as it’s all about me cos it’s not , I just wanted you to know that things ( with determination ) do get better and you are going to be fine.
    I think you’re a very brave and inspirational person .Keep kicking arse !!!!!!!!!!

    Love Kim ( London )

  • Lynne Kingsbury

    Logan, you are an inspiration! I was working out 7 times a week, six days a week when I suffered a vertebral arterial dissection (Wallenberg’s Syndrome) stroke. I am coming up on the year anniversary and like you, have worked very hard (using My Fitness Pal and UA Record, which I was using before my stroke) to work my way back. I am not where I was…as you say, muscle goes away quickly and comes back slowly, but you give me hope that I can continue to improve and that fitness will become a central part of my life again…along with the mindfulness, nutrition, stress management and rest, you mention above. Thank you for sharing and motivating us all.