Carlos Montenegro has been going to the Elmhurst YMCA since his now-grown children were in grade school. Soon after returning home from a ten-week hospital stay following a stroke, Carlos decided to resume his daily workouts. He could not walk without assistance or move his left arm. Feeling isolated and hopeless, he was not recovering from home as well as he had hoped.
Turns out the Y was just what the doctor ordered. The camaraderie and knowledgeable help Carlos found there was a crucial part of his recovery. “Without their encouragement,” Carlos says, “I don’t know what I’d do.”
Y trainers welcomed Carlos back to the weight room, offering training tips and support to aid in his difficult recovery. “Any questions I had, I knew they’d tell me what to do,” Carlos says. “They were so nice to me.”
Everyone at the Y contributed to watching over Carlos. “The ladies at the front desk were outstanding to me. They told me to go to the swimming pool and start going to the classes and doing extra work myself, and it turned out to be great.” Before his stroke, Carlos had never integrated swimming into his workout; now it’s an important part of his regular routine.
About a year and a half out from the stroke, Carlos estimates his recovery to be about 95 percent. He has gone from walking one mile per hour to four miles per hour on the treadmill and is considering reintroducing running into his routine over the summer. His progress in the weight room is equally dramatic. “My left arm was completely paralyzed. Now, at the Y, I pull cables and lift weights. I started with two or three pounds and now I can pull 20 and 40 pounds easily.”
Carlos is paying it forward now. He often talks to people about the signs of a stroke and about the value of eating right—and of persevering despite obstacles. He says he has befriended another man at the Y who is recovering from a stroke. “I keep pushing him and making him laugh,” Carlos says. “I tell him not to give up, to come every day.”