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Center of Achievement’s Taylor-Kevin Isaacs Named ‘Best Personal Trainer’

His contagious enthusiasm makes him instantly recognizable by anyone who’s ever visited the Center of Achievement for the Physically Disabled in the department of Kineosiology.  Taylor-Kevin Isaacs, MS, CPT, CSCS, teaches Therapeutic Exercise for Special Populations here at California State University Northridge (CSUN), as well as spending numerous hours in the Center of Achievement working with clients.

Last spring, Taylor won the grand price in the MET-Rx World’s Best Personal Trainer Contest, in the category named “Deconditioned and Rehabilitation Exerciser”.  The competition was rigorous, with two days of questions ranging from the philosophical to the physiological as well as demonstrations of the methodology and procedures used for his clients’ training programs.  Out of thousands of trainers, Taylor’s exceptional, inspirational work so impressed the judges that in addition to naming him top trainer in his category, they created an Honorary Achievement Award just for him.

“There is a genuine need for this kind of facility.  I wanted to demonstrate what a difference it can make.” –Taylor-Kevin Isaacs

The success story that caught the judges’ attention was that of Taylor’s work with his client, Jesse Billauer.  Jesse had been ranked among the hundred top surfers in the world, and had won an international surf contest just one week before he severed his spinal cord in a surfing accident.  His friends speculate that Jesse may have stalled at the top of the wave, allowing the wave to catch him and propel him straight into a shallow sandbar.  The impact left him a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down.

Over the next twelve weeks, Jesse worked with Taylor in a comprehensive exercise training program.  Taylor also monitored his motivation toward exercise.  Testing throughout revealed consistent improvement in Jesse’s physiological standing as well as his functional ability, independence and reduction in the anticipated secondary complications and degenerative changes that typically follow spinal cord injury.

At the end of the three day a week training program, Jesse was able to transfer himself to and from his wheelchair, turn himself in bed, and even push a wheelchair around Magic Mountain for the whole day.  Soon after, he would play adapted games of table tennis, pool, wheelchair tennis, rugby, baseball, football, hockey, and even kayak, water ski, scuba dive, and sky dive.  All this led to the day his friends took him back to the beach for a day of surfing.

“The greatest moment for me,” Taylor says, “was when Jesse reunited with the ocean for the first time since the accident.  With the help of friends, Jesse was placed on the surfboard and situated into a position to ride the wave.  A wave picked Jesse up and he glided along the surface.  Even though the ride was short, Jesse’s mission was accomplished.  Laughing and smiling, he couldn’t stop talking about how much fun he had re-entering and coming to terms with the ocean.”

“Finally, I found a reason to forgive the ocean for its destructive act,” Jesse says.  “It is true that the mighty ocean may be able to crush out bodies and take from us our precious lives, but its strength will never be able to defeat the strong spirit within those blessed with the strength to never let the current hold them down.”

While Taylor says receiving the award is an honor, and that he is tremendously pleased with Jesse’s success, he also wants to make it clear just why he entered the contest in the first place.  “I really wanted to impress upon the insurance companies the importance of continued work with a fitness professional, even – and especially – after post outpatient physical therapy.  Places like the Center of Achievement here at CSUN bridge the gap between the outpatient PT and home or community based fitness for the disabled.  There is a genuine need for this kind of facility.”  Not one to let his enthusiasm go without passing it along, he adds, “I wanted to demonstrate what a difference it can make.”

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