David Chappell picks up a 15-pound leather ball, hoists it up in his lap, and with swift motions steers his wheelchair over to his wife, Ginger. She lifts it over her head, slams the ball into the ground, where it gently bounces before she picks it up again, repeating the process five more times. When she is done, David is there with another ball, ready to repeat the process.
The movement is the start of a individualized workout designed by personal trainer Shane Cowdell, who recently joined Liz Puzon at Rizing Fitness, one of the newest additions to the Lodi gym scene.
Cowdell uses an approach of functional movement patterns, customized to each client to meet each person’s fitness goals. He believes in an approach with minimal use of traditional machines, believing the body itself is a machine, to be used as such, while keeping each workout fun and enjoyable. The gym also provides boot camps, which use the high-intensity interval training approach.
“For me, personally its fantastic,” Ginger Chappell said of the workouts designed by Cowdell that she and David, who is unable to use his legs, do five days per week. “I wouldn’t want to have two other people in the room. It’s a vulnerable thing to work out — I need to be in a comfortable environment. We’re laughing and having a good time — it feels like it goes by so fast.”
David, now 49, was the victim of an accidental shooting when he was 3 and has spent his whole life in a wheelchair. He has seen a big change in his mobility and range of motion after two years of working out with Cowdell. Ginger has lost 75 pounds.
Cowdell didn’t always work as a personal trainer. He spent 10 years at Walmart, in a variety of positions. Fitness was always important to him though, and he developed workouts for his friends for fun. But a comment from a co-worker finally made him take a leap to change his life and career.
“Someone called me a lifer, and something inside me snapped,” he said.
The question prompted a soul searching of sorts for Cowdell.
“I’ve got to change something with what I am currently doing, and what do I enjoy doing?” he recalls asking himself. “How can I help others? And what will keep me young?”
So he went back to school and got certified as a personal trainer at the National Trainer Institute in Sacramento.
After working at a larger fitness box chain for the first five years of his career, Cowdell took the opportunity to work for himself when he joined his friend and colleague Puzon at Rizing Fitness.
When a new client joins the gym, Cowdell first does an assessment and a body composition — establishing the weight, body fat and lean body mass percentages — then discusses the client’s weight and workout goals. They establish how many calories the client needs to eat to maintain their weight or lose pounds.
“The main thing is to stay within a caloric deficit. You can’t lose weight if you’re eating more than you burn. And most people don’t even know what their basic metabolic rate is — how much they burn in a resting state,” he said.
Proper nutrition and the changing of old habits, is a big part of living a healthier life.
“The main thing is making a lifestyle change. If you don’t break down minor bad habits — such as eating in front of the TV — you don’t realize you consume 25 to 50 percent more food just by sitting in front of the television, mindlessly indulging in food like chips or popcorn,” he said. “If you’re going to eat, actually eat sit down and eat it away from the phone and television. Something as small as that — will make a world of difference — you’re actually feeding the body as opposed to distracting the mind.”
The most rewarding part of being a personal trainer is seeing the success and transformation in his clients. His biggest success is someone near and dear to his heart — his own father, John Cowdell.
“He was 300 pounds, and is now 180,” Cowdell said.
Under the guidance of his son, John Cowdell cleaned up his diet, getting rid of soda, chips and other unhealthy foods, and focusing on a mainly plant-based diet. The change in diet and exercise eventually got rid of John’s diabetes and heart disease, his son said, and he went from 26 medications down to only three. He now rides his bike between 6 and 20 miles a day.
Cowdell’s main advice to someone wanting to get healthier is to make a lifestyle change. Movement, hydration and getting adequate sleep is important, he said. Get rid of the nonsense TV, junk food, eating out, and sedentary lifestyle, and get outside instead.
Ginger credits Cowdell’s training and personal approach with changing her and her husband’s health and fitness.
“I can’t say enough about him,” she said. “He is fantastic. He can really help people make a difference in their lives.”