Getting Back Up on the Horse: Cathy King


by Sasha Reddy

“Now I want you to get here” Deb says, gesturing her hand next to the leg press where her client is hard at work.

“I can’t” Cathy squeaks around her seventh rep, straining under the weight of the machine.

Without a moment’s hesitation, Deb replies in a stern, supportive voice, “You can get here”.

Cathy King [bottom] using a leg press machine with Deb Goodge [top] observing.

This is the brand of encouragement you can typically expect between Cathy King and Deb Goodge, client and personal trainer respectively. They’ve been training together since July of 2019. For 45 minutes every Thursday morning, Deb’s eyes are dead focused on Cathy, vigilant of everything from the quality of her reps to her posture to her level of comfort or stress. Deb’s attentiveness is one of many reasons why the two get along tremendously well. Another reason: with Deb’s help, Cathy managed to drop 17% body fat and completely turn her health around in just five months of training.

“You Need to Make a Change”

Until 2019, Cathy had a job running manufacturing plants. She spent over seven years in the industry, and while she’s extremely passionate about manufacturing, the stresses of her job were evident. The plant where Cathy most recently worked houses hundreds of employees and operates 24/7. Whether on- or off-site, during all hours of the day and night, she had to be available to answer questions, schedule meetings, resolve conflicts at the plant, etc.

Cathy before training with Deb Goodge

The demanding work took a severe toll on Cathy’s physical health. She became plagued by stress-induced sickness, rising blood-pressure and cholesterol, worsening joint pain, and overall declining health. For the better part of a year, Cathy’s husband and doctor both pleaded with her to start taking better care of herself. They proposed anything that might help her unwind; Cathy’s husband even bought her an ornamental jellyfish tank in hopes that the visual would help her de-stress at work. “But how can you when you have someone on a conference call, someone banging on your window, and someone standing at your door?” she counters.

Cathy’s poor health was beginning to affect her activities outside of work, too. Currently, she owns two horses – she’s been riding since she was nine and even competed in horse shows in her youth – and she loves to take them for long walks through the beautiful backwoods of Unionville. During one outing, Cathy and Splash, the larger of her two horses, were on their way home when they came across a roadblock. “A tree had fallen [on the trail] and it was kind of leaning. I knew he could fit under it, but not with me on him”. She jumped off her horse to pass the obstacle only to find that she was unable to hoist herself back into the saddle. “I walked him up to the side of a little hill, but still couldn’t get on him. I didn’t have the arm-strength. And I thought ‘I am in deplorable health’”. Feeling defeated, Cathy ended up walking alongside her horse half a mile up the steep incline between them and stable. By the end of the hike, she was completely winded.

Gateway Garden Center

Cathy riding her horse, Splash

Cathy’s doctor and husband continued to urge her to take care of herself. After the umpteenth warning, the severity of her situation finally began to sink in.

“The doctor said to me ‘you need to make a change’. So I turned in my two weeks’ notice.”

 The Trainer-Client Connection

Cathy had never met Deb Goodge before signing up for personal training. On her hunt for a new trainer, she was told that Deb would likely be a good match for her. This theory couldn’t have been more true, as the pair hit it off immediately. “I knew that [Deb] was a stickler for form, and that’s what I liked about her” Cathy recalls her impression of Deb after their first session together. Deb’s keenness for detail has been not only helpful, but crucial, particularly for Cathy.

Before a trainer and client start training together, it’s standard for the two to review the client’s medical history and other concerns they may have. In addition to her many stress-induced ailments, Cathy has a long history of medical ordeals: rheumatism, Lyme’s Disease, and four surgeries on her right foot just to scratch the surface. She had also just been released from physical therapy for a shoulder issue when she started training with Deb. But for as many aches and pains as Cathy had, it was astounding that Deb has remembered every single one. “I’ve had trainers before at other gyms, and they’ve broken me down. They pushed too hard, to the point where I just quit… [Deb] took me slowly and methodically.” Deb’s genuine concern for her clients’ specific needs has been miles above that of any other trainer Cathy has worked with.

Cathy [left] performing a plank on a Bosu ball as Deb [right] watches and instructs

Eat Right and Prosper

For years, Cathy’s been seeing a Rheumatoid Arthritis specialist to help manage her joint pain. Around the same time that Cathy began training with Deb, her general practitioner began to suspect that her rheumatism was not the result of arthritis at all. He put Cathy on an elimination diet to see if it would have any impact on her symptoms; gluten, corn, soy, shellfish, dairy, and were all disallowed. “Several months ago I would have died for a hoagie or pizza” Cathy admits. She’s gone through quite a bit of trial and error with her meals, but her diet has remained  gluten-, dairy-, and corn-free since August. Now she hardly even thinks of cheat foods; between her new diet and exercise regimen, her health has made a complete 180.

The Results are In

In the months since Cathy started training with Deb, she’s made remarkable progress with her health. Between her first session with Deb and the end of 2019, Cathy lost 17% body fat and over 23% visceral fat. In addition, all the symptoms she was experiencing – joint pain, high blood pressure, etc. – have essentially disappeared. Because of this, Cathy has even been able to ease up on the doses of several of her medications. She’s feeling better than she has in decades.

Others have taken notice to Cathy’s impressive transformation, too. During her last doctor’s visit, her GP rolled over to her side of the desk to show her the results of her most recent body scan. “LOOK at this” he declared, astonished by the differences in her results. Cathy’s husband, Mike, has been extremely supportive, too. According to Cathy, he’s been especially commendatory of her in the past few months. “I honestly don’t think he thought I could do it.” she says. She had started and stopped training so many times that it was no wonder he was skeptical. Now Cathy feels much more confident and upbeat than ever, and her relationship with Mike has only been enriched as a result.

Cathy [right] and her husband Mike [left]

While Cathy does miss manufacturing, the personal responsibility she feels to take care of herself has in many ways filled the place of work. “It’s my [new] job. I get up, I get dressed in the morning and I go to HAC” she says. In just five months she regained control of her health, made a new friend in Deb, enhanced her relationship with her husband, and even found more time to spend with her horses. All in all, the tradeoff has been more than worthwhile.

Gateway Garden Center

Before her training began, Cathy always felt the need to hide herself in oversized sweaters to conceal her weight. “Now I’m trying on skinny jeans” Cathy laughs. “I never ever thought I could look like this again or feel this good.” During our discussion, Cathy paraphrased the mindset of her former self: ‘how much shape can a 58-year-old woman really be in?’. Her answer: “I don’t even know yet. For me it just keeps getting better and better.”


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