Bob's Story

Bob's Story

Do you make time for the gym?

How one stroke survivor is working his way to wellness and inspiring others along the way.

Many times as fitness enthusiasts, we wake up in the morning and say, “I just don’t feel like going to the gym,” or “I don’t have time today, it’s just a work out, I can get it in later.” Well there’s a man at The Kaweah Health Lifestyle Fitness Center that makes us all question that mentality. For some, like Bob Clifton, it isn’t just a workout, it’s what gets them through each day, it’s about survival.

“Bob is someone I admire greatly,” said Mark Quesada, TLC’s Activities Coordinator/Operations Assistant, of Robert “Bob” Clifton, who became a member in 2016 following a stroke.

Bob is not your typical member. He’s not just doing a couch to 5K and he doesn’t just want to lose a few pounds, although he has lost 125 pounds since he first became a member. Bob’s there because he is determined to make the most of his life and work through the neurological side effects he suffered from his stroke, namely PBA or Pseudo Bulbar Affect, which causes him to laugh or cry uncontrollably at a moment’s notice when he has an “attack.” At TLC, which is not a gym, but a medically-based fitness and rehabilitation facility with certified professionals, Bob is in good hands and making steady progress that is inspiring other members.

“Staff and members alike have been tremendously helpful in looking out for me when I’m at TLC. Many people with PBA tend to be more reclusive; coming to the gym gets me out in public places,” Bob said. “I’m going to achieve and succeed in the name of Jesus. Simple things that many people take advantage of are a challenge for me.”

Completing a workout can be challenging for Bob, who as a result of his stroke, suffered PBA and has had seizures along with speech and balance issues. However, Bob’s dedication is paying off. To date, he’s not only lost weight, but he’s also been taken off his anti-seizure medication.

The road has been a long one, but Bob has never given up hope. His journey at TLC started with Bob reenacting what he learned at physical therapy: walking backwards, walking sideways both ways, balancing a ball while walking backwards.

“I started to learn to do two or three things at once like bouncing a ball with one hand while walking, then using both hands going both forward and backward. I recreated in my mind what I learned then added to that. ..step ups… weight lifting, walking,” Bob said.

Eventually Bob scheduled an appointment to meet with the Exercise Physiology team and connected with Monica Soto, a Fitness Program Coordinator and Lead Exercise Physiologist at TLC. “Monica is a caring person, took her time with me and went over weight lifting and six or seven exercises I should do. We progressively added slant push-ups, planking, bridges, etc.”

Bob has learned to celebrate his small successes, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint!” he says, noting that his overall goals are to lose weight, tone and work on his balance and strength. “Just to plank or push up is a goal of mine. Little by little I add another 10 push-ups or 10 lbs. on weights.”

Many admire Bob from afar and Mark Quesada is among them. He understands Bob’s story and what he is working to overcome, including any episodes with PBA. “Many times after an episode he is left simply exhausted. If I see him on the fitness floor and he is having an issue, I will go and just sit with him,” Mark said.

“Members who do not know Bob’s story will stop and ask what is wrong. I just look back at them and say, ‘Bob is very passionate about his workout,’ he said, noting that in those times, Bob just looks at Mark and shakes his head.”

Mark said he is proud that TLC is there for all members as they work to achieve their fitness goals. “It is very important to Bob that he is treated just like everyone else. He understands that exercise is a major factor in maintaining his physical health as well as his mental health,” he said. “The Kaweah Health Lifestyle Fitness Center is a safe place to be. It doesn’t matter if you are here to sweat, socialize or maybe laugh and cry.”