Spotlight on Derek Retzloff
Hello! How’s it going? It’s Trevor here and I’ve got a great success story to share with you.
This story is about Derek Retzloff, and he has achieved some amazing results over the past 2 months with his training.
You know Derek, right? Or better known to you as Derek Scott, the radio guy from SunFM (now Virgin).
He might not look familiar but if you heard his voice on the radio, I’m sure you’d recognize it. Derek is usually in at 9:30 am Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He has done numerous works for SunFM and other radio businesses for over 20 years. For a person who has had to face numerous challenges throughout life, it makes what he’s achieved even more amazing.
From a young age, Derek was at a physical disadvantage. His so called “condition”, which he’ll describe for you shortly, made certain tasks of daily living challenging. Tasks weren’t necessarily impossible to complete, but hard to be efficient. It might be tough to relate but consider the things you’ve struggled with in your life and eventually overcame. Maybe you broke your leg, tore or pulled a muscle, hurt your back and had to sit out from a sporting event or even had to take time away from work. You were presented with new challenges in your daily life, but eventually you got better and were back to health.
Remember how those challenges made you feel? Even better, how you felt when you accomplished them? Imagine if you had to live with them your whole life and each day there was something to accomplish. Sooner or later you work through those challenges more fluently and now you’re looking for even more ways to challenge yourself. You won’t let anything stop you or get in your way. That’s Derek for you. Each day he accomplishes something in one way or another. He accepts and embraces all obstacles in life as an opportunity for improvement. If anything, it’s all fun and games to him!
Now, before I continue to ramble on about Derek and what he’s achieved in a short amount of time, I should back up, and have him tell you himself.
Here’s his story.
Trevor: Give us a background on your surgery and how you’ve carried yourself over the course of your life?
Derek: When I was born and throughout most of my young life, my doctors thought I had something called Charcot Marie Tooth disease, which affected my legs. I had many heel cord lengthening surgeries and muscle biopsies to try and figure out what was going on. But when I turned 18 the medical system essentially gave up, and I was left undiagnosed. The results of these surgeries didn’t really prove or help anything, but back in the 80’s surgery was the answer to everything. I can remember one visit to the doctor, I was told I could end up paralyzed and could lose the use of my hands. Thankfully that never happened.
Even with all of this going on, I was always a happy little guy. I would have been an easy target for bullies and such at school, but thankfully, I always had a great group of friends who looked out for me. Even a few of the bad kids too.
When my Dad started seeing a massage therapist, he mentioned my situation to her, and that’s when I started with regular massage therapy. I really started to feel a difference. I was told that my legs were like two cement poles with no muscle definition at all, but that all changed thanks to her. My whole medical history was a lot of guessing and tests. When I got older, I figured out that I could change things. Little things happening in my life that led me to believe that I could do more than I a could. That’s why I have so much fun at Okanagan Peak Performance Inc. They push me every day to do better and make me feel comfortable while having fun. Not only do I feel better, but I get to learn how certain exercises work and how they transfer to my everyday life.
Trevor: What are some of the challenges you’ve had to face in your life? Could be day-to-day, things that you may have missed out on or really wanted to do.
Derek: Certain things in my life have always been a challenge. I’m now at the point where I don’t even consider them because I’ve come to accept it. For example, I have a tough time with steps. I need a handrail to go up a set of steps. If I want to go to a sporting event or the movie theater, I need to make sure there’s a railing to hold on to, or it’s just not happening. That could be looked at as a downside, but I choose to look at it as a positive. It means that I can use the disabled section and get a much better seat full of room.
I’ve always chose to look at the positives and not think negatively about things. I think that’s just the way I was brought up. My parents always taught me to be strong, smart, and to always try my best. I was in casts from the time I was a little guy, but still I was on my bike (two casts on my feet) and sailing over ramps. When I was in school things were a bit more challenging. I wanted to play sports with my friends, but obviously it was tough for me. I still did play, but I couldn’t run or stay on my feet for very long.
I can remember one time when I was playing on the basketball team in junior high. My coach had me wait at the other end of the court until we had possession. Once my teammates were close, they would pass it to me. I tried out for the team and didn’t think I was going to make it. I was surprised when I did. Years later, I realized that the coach didn’t want to cut me and let everyone else play. He was trying to be inclusive. This might seem “okay” to some, but that’s when I realized I wasn’t going to be “that guy” and be made a spectacle of.
While the game was happening at the other end of the court, people in the stands would be staring at the guy all by himself with the skinny legs. It really made me feel different. My coach’s intention was to have everyone become a star, and that’s when I realized I didn’t have to be like everyone else. I quit the team shortly after and felt like I learned a valuable lesson.
To this day, I know my limits, but that’s all from trying things myself and getting feedback. Aside from these little things, I really don’t feel much different from anyone else. At 40 years old, there are plenty of things I don’t want to do anymore, and I’m more than happy with that. I should mention that I also played competitive wheelchair basketball for many years, and even managed to play for Team Alberta in the Canada Games. I won a few medals and met a lot of great people.
I’ve also been involved in the radio industry for over 20 years. I’ve met some of the most popular musicians in the world and have done a lot of very cool things. My disability had nothing to do with that, that was all me. That just goes to show that my disability doesn’t define me, it’s just something that adds to the person I am. I believe that a person can be defined by something and let it defeat them, or you can recognize the challenge, address it and deal with it.
Trevor: Tell us about the huge WIN you had.
Derek: I have such a great time training with Trevor each day. I told him after one of our first sessions that I felt bulletproof when I walked out of the gym. I still feel that every day. Not just at the gym but in everyday life. Little things, like picking something up or having more stamina when I’m out walking around. Due to my disability, I pretty much always need to sit down. I compare it to an hourglass. From the time I stand up, turn it over, I’m going to need to sit down shortly after. That’s just something I’ve come to accept.
Usually, wherever you go, you can find a bench or somewhere to sit down, but with Covid, those benches and seats have been taken away. I can recall a trip to the mall recently where I walked from my vehicle, all the way to the back of the store, and then had to wait in 2 lineups. I got all the way back to my Jeep and wasn’t tired. It was something that hadn’t happened to me in a long time. That’s thanks to Trevor, Chris and everyone at OPP, but also thanks to me. I’m not ashamed to say I’m proud of myself, or that it was easy to do because it wasn’t.
I work hard at the gym and I love seeing the results of my hard work. I also want to mention as a result of the benches disappearing, I bought a walking cane for long periods of standing but have never used it. If I decided not to take my fitness seriously, change my eating habits, and focus on myself, I’d be worse off. Aside from my wheelchair basketball successes, I’ve never really considered myself an “athlete”. I know it’s just a word, but it makes me feel special.
When I get Chris’ emails calling us athletes and peak performers, it makes me smile. One of the things I love and respect so much about OPP is that, never for a single second have they made me feel different, or like I couldn’t accomplish something. Thanks to their extensive knowledge, they’ve set me up with a program that works for me and makes me feel great. It can be intimidating in other gyms when you have skinny legs, or need assistance from a bar to stand up, but at OPP I’ve never felt that way. Trevor has been such a great coach in recognizing what I can do and always pushing me to do “one more” or try just a bit more weight. It makes me feel so good to push a little more, go a little bit faster, or dig deep for that last ounce of energy. I don’t just feel it, I AM bulletproof!
Trevor: How have you been able to achieve these goals? And what are you looking forward to in the future?
Derek: I can’t say enough great things about Chris, Harry, Trevor, other staff members and OPP in general. I also know a huge part of it is me. I’m the one responsible for myself and if I don’t do all the things it takes to make my training effective, that’s on me. I was that guy who always said, “I don’t want to go to the gym”, or, “yeah one day I might give it a shot”, but that all changed. As strange as it sounds, I’m almost happy that COVID came. It gave me a lot of time to sit and think about myself and what’s important to me.
I didn’t eat a lot of fast food, but I did eat more than I probably should have. I want to get rid of my cheeseburger locker (tummy) but know that it’s going to take a lot of work to do so. Especially in my late 30’s. I decided that if I was exercising but still eating the bad stuff, my training really wasn’t going to make much of a difference. Just making little changes here and there, I started to notice some positives.
I’ve only been at it for about a month and a half, but I’ve already noticed that my biceps are rock hard. I’ve got some muscles on the sides of my tummy that I never had before, and thanks to my trip at the mall, my endurance and stamina has increased big time. As daily activities become less tiring, it takes longer for that to happen, and I’ll call that a huge win. As I continue my training, I hope to continue improving my full body strength and stamina, so little things like steps, or tying my shoes aren’t so difficult. As great as our coaches are, it’s ultimately up to us as athletes to work our hardest and to get the most out of our coaching. And hey, what investment is better than yourself?!
Trevor: I hope you’ve enjoyed the read so far, and hopefully you have a couple more minutes to listen to what I’m most proud of Derek for. You’re already aware of how hard Derek works and what he’s accomplished with his training. Instead, let me tell you what he does for me and the rest of us at OPP.
From the moment he rolls up in the parking lot, a wave of energy spreads through the facility. He always walks in with a smile from ear to ear and can’t wait to be the first one to say “hello”. He’s a spark. What I mean by that is, his positive attitude and friendliness projects on to the people around him. Whether it’s chatting about football (he is a huge Seahawks fan), hip hop, daily adventures, or his low-key obsession for Jordan shoes, the conversations are endless. Looking back on our first couple weeks together, we didn’t chat as much. It’s kind of funny now, but he was always trying to catch his breath from the previous set. Since that’s gone, there is more time for chit chatter, and don’t get me wrong, when it’s time to work it’s time to work! He continues to improve strength, endurance and competence each week. Keep bringing that A-level effort day in and day out!
All of us at OPP are so proud of what Derek has achieved in such a short amount of time. When you have a moment, take some time to reflect on the things you do everyday. Where can improvements be made? And how can you get the most out of each day?
Well done Derek! And thanks for sharing.