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501 S Royal Oaks Blvd., Franklin, TN 37064
Today's 4:45 a.m.-10 p.m.
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501 S Royal Oaks Blvd., Franklin, TN 37064
Today's 4:45 a.m.-10 p.m.
Directions | More Hours

Y Story: Melanie Heals One Step at a Time

February 8, 2019

A Walk on the Track with Mark and Melanie: How Personal Trainer Mark Davenport helped Melanie Dittmar heal

Franklin YMCA member Melanie Dittmar never thought she would walk again after a sudden fall caused her to break her hip. At the time, Melanie was 68 years old, and her husband Al had recently passed away due to illness. “Prior to my husband’s death, my husband was very sick with dementia, and we used to come to the Franklin YMCA because my husband felt at home here,” Melanie says. “This is when I first began training with Mark Davenport. At the time, I was preparing to undergo surgery for a hip replacement, and I knew that I would need a personal trainer during the recovery phase of my surgery.”

Things went from bad to worse

Al’s sudden death put everything on hold. “I was incapacitated from my hip replacement surgery and could not walk, which meant I could not bury my husband," Melanie says. "I had to have him cremated. It was devastating.”

To worsen matters, shortly after Al’s death, Melanie suffered an accidental fall that caused her to break her hip. Melanie recalls her feelings of defeat during that time, “Even before my hip replacement surgery and Al’s death, I felt old. I wasn’t very active with exercise in my later years, and I didn’t feel good much of the time. So when I broke my hip after a fall in 2017, I wasn’t confident that I would ever walk again.”

Healing began with baby steps

Melanie’s only hope that she could recover from her injury after her fall was Mark. “When I called Mark in 2017 after I broke my hip, I told him the news about Al and my injury, and he assured me that he was there for me if I needed him and that he would call to check on me regularly. Mark’s encouragement and support kept me motivated during the tough times of my recovery.”

In April 2018, when Melanie was cleared for physical therapy, he very first stop was the Franklin Y to see Mark. “When Melanie got released from her doctor,” Mark says, “She didn’t let me know by calling. She let me know by showing up to see me in person. That took a lot of courage. At the time, she was completely dependent on a cane and she could not sit or stand for long periods of time and was discouraged. That day, I assured her that she would walk again and that I would train her until she reached her goals.”

Melanie confided in Mark that her ultimate goal was to be strong enough to visit Europe and to one day bury her husband’s ashes. Mark recalls how he kept Melanie encouraged and focused on this goal in their sessions. “When we started Melanie’s training,” Mark says, “I told her that the only way she would eventually walk a mile is to start by walking a few steps. So during our sessions, that’s what we did."

"It's incredible how far she's come"

Once she was far enough in her strength training that she could stand upright and take a few steps forward, she and I would go up to the track at the Y and just walk.” Melanie progressed quickly in her sessions with Mark. “The first day we walked together, we only completed 5 laps around the track,” Mark says. “But, in no time, those 5 laps became 10 laps and then soon after a mile. Today, after only 6 months of training, Melanie can walk a complete 1 ½ miles around track without stopping. It’s incredible how far she’s come in such a short amount of time.”

On October 11, 2018, Melanie took a special trip to lay her husband’s ashes to rest; a goal Melanie says may never have been possible without Mark and their work together at the Y. “The community at the Y provided me with the support and the accountability that I needed to keep me focused on my long term goals,” Melanie says. “After my time with Mark and the Y, I am now physically and mentally ready to bury Al. This is the greatest gift to me, and I will always be grateful.”

Giving to the Y

The Franklin Family Y serves as a place for fellowship, community, and wellness for hundreds of active older adults like Melanie. Recent studies support that seniors are increasingly vulnerable to social isolation, loneliness, and inactivity, which can have a variety of negative physical and emotional effects on seniors. In the case of major life events like the death of a spouse, their vulnerability to these issues increases dramatically.

Donations from Franklin YMCA members through the Annual Giving Campaign guarantee that seniors in need in the community have access to wellness and programming at the Y. In 2018, the Franklin Family YMCA awarded 98 seniors with subsidies to assist with membership costs, an outcome that Melanie says makes her proud to be a member of the Y.

Having access to Mark at the Y was critical to Melanie’s rapid recovery. “From the beginning, Mark was very in tune with my needs both physically and emotionally,” Melanie says. “He knows when to push me and when to let me rest. When I train with Mark, I am working out, but I also feel like I am going to lunch with a really great friend.”

Visit our blog for more stories and news from the Franklin Y

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