From neck brace to pro competitor, Erika has an incredible story of perseverance, dedication and overcoming. Here's her story!
When did you start your fitness journey?
One day during the summer of 2008, I was calling personal trainers in the area because I wanted to get in shape for the upcoming Snocross season (snowmobile racing). Rob was the third trainer I contacted and he said he would be glad to help my brother and I. After talking with Rob a bit and learning about his philosophy – don’t make clients so sore they can’t walk the next day because they won’t want to come back – I knew he was the coach I wanted to work with.
What were your goals when you started?
Initially, I just wanted to get stronger and increase my endurance for racing. As I became stronger, my confidence on the track also increased. This made reaching the Pro class not seem so impossible. After working with Rob for 2 years, I finally bumped up to Pro-Am Women.
However, this jump in classes didn’t come easy. Going into the last race of the 2009-2010 racing season, I was ranked 1st in season points for the Sport Women class. It was at that final race, the season championships in Lake Geneva, WI. (March 2010), that I was in a life-threatening accident.
I ascended a black diamond ski-hill on my Arctic Cat SnoPro and hit a “double” jump at the top. I had cleared this jump earlier that day but with warm weather, the snow conditions had changed. Unfortunately, my track did not clear the peak of the landing this time sending my sled into a front-flip and landing on me.
The medics took me down the hill strapped to a board and I was rushed to the local hospital in Delavan, WI. After a few scans, doctors discovered I had a severely torn aorta and had fractured my neck, a vertebra and three ribs. My doctors wanted to med-flight me to UW Madison (level 1 trauma center) but due to poor weather, they were unable to fly. Instead, I endured a 90-minute ambulance ride to UW. Here, I had surgery (see video) to repair my aorta and was fitted for a neck brace.
When I woke up, I heard the doctors talking to my parents. “Her injuries could’ve been much worse if she hadn’t been in such great physical condition.” – That’s the work of The OG Experience – it helped save my life.
While in the hospital, I asked my doctors how long before I could get back in the gym and how long recovery was going to take. They told me I couldn’t raise my arms above my head and to not lift more than 10 lbs. This was difficult being a senior in high school and dual enrolled in college classes with a huge stack of books! My doctors also advised me to not return to the gym for at least 5 months and full recovery would take 8 months. I immediately started calculating in my head, 8 months marked the start of the following season – PERFECT!
Once I got home, I met up with Rob and told him what they suggested. He kind of smirked and said, “As soon as you feel ready to get back at it, you let me know and we’ll get you in the gym.” After sitting around for 10 weeks, I couldn’t take it any longer. Rob had me doing circuit training in my neck brace and with each check-up from then on, my doctors couldn’t believe the rate at which I was recovering. Rob explained to me that by getting the blood flowing again, it helps transport nutrients required for healing.
After working with Rob for a few months, I ran my first marathon in October 2010 (7 months after my accident). Then, in November (8 months after my accident), I was able to return to snowmobile racing and bumped up to the Pro-Am Women class. I ended up with a 4th place finish at the season opener in Duluth, MN.
My doctors couldn’t believe how quickly I recovered or how much range of motion I still had in my neck. – All thanks to The OG Experience.
The OG Experience not only produces physical results but mental results as well. When you start noticing physical changes, your confidence drastically increases.
I love how much attention Rob gives to each of his clients and how readily available he is. Have a question? Message him and he’ll get back to you within 10-20 minutes max!
What are your next goals?
I'm currently working with Rob to prepare for my first physique show. It's a new kind of challenge. Overcoming my previously stated injuries was definitely one of my biggest hurdles to date. However, since I’ve started training for my physique show, dieting comes close – sounds silly but it’s a huge mental game. I’ve always worked out but never had to watch what I ate or had to meal prep. With food being such a social aspect of my life, it was tough to get on track in the beginning. However, once everyone around you realizes what you’re doing and that you’re serious about it, staying on track becomes easier.
What would you tell someone who was considering joining the OG Experience?
Do it and don’t even think about looking back! His plans are so easy to follow – he does all the thinking for you.