At 15-years-old, Julie I., of Irvine, CA, had a brain aneurysm while on a skiing trip with her family. She couldn’t lift her head or swallow. She could hear, but could not speak. Sitting in the hospital room to comfort Julie was her grandmother, Frances. The nurse informed her that her granddaughter would never speak again, and Frances’ reaction to that was hanging a sign on the hospital door that read: If you have something negative to say, don’t come in.

Three years later, not only was Julie able to speak, but she was a graduate of Mater Dei High School.  Getting there, though, wasn’t easy. Doctors recommended putting Julie in an assisted living facility, but her family took her home and went to work, helping teach her how to do various things again. Not only did her family help, but fellow classmates, neighbors and parents of the kids she used to coach in soccer all rallied behind her, calling it Operation Julie.

For years, Julie would wake up, see her wheelchair and vow that by the end of the year she would walk independently again. Year after year she renewed that vow until she was able to walk with the assistance of a walker in 2000. Her strong-mindedness spilled over to all other aspects of her life. She wanted to go to USC, so she made it happen. She had always wanted to rush a sorority, and so she did. She wanted to experience life living in a sorority house, and would you guess – she did.

Julie shared with us how her workouts changed over the years and she became stronger. At first, she said she did mostly floor exercises with her physical therapist, since she had to learn, and train, her body to do things that once came naturally. She did a lot of core strengthening, balancing exercises, learned to sit-up, hold her head up, and countless other activities. Once she attended college, her physical therapy turned to walking practice.

Once Julie graduated from USC, she moved back to her hometown of Irvine, CA, and once again, her workouts changed.  Julie would go to the gym 3-4 days a week and do mostly cardio. When she was on the treadmill she would hold onto the front bars to keep her balance and she had learned how to use the bikes and weights, as well as do floor exercises, from her time spent in physical therapy. Julie explained that she went to the gym religiously for 26 years, improving gradually over time, and that her tremors almost completely disappeared and her flexibility improved.

Julie now trains at LA Fitness in the mornings before work. Her and her dad have even participated in four MS150 Rides, a two-day fundraising bike ride to help raise money for MS (multiple sclerosis), spanning from Newport Beach to San Diego. She has a recumbent three-wheel bike. Now, at 52-years-old, Julie mostly exercises on the bike, stretches and strength trains with weights. Having overcome so much in her lifetime, Julie started a non-profit called SupportAbility, which awards high school seniors who have graduated despite tremendous personal obstacles.

Julie shared, “Thanks to the beautiful, friendly and immaculate gym, hard work and a routine I can write this.” We can’t wait to see what the future holds for this incredible woman. If you would like to donate to SupportAbility, and read more about this non-profit organization, please visit Julie’s website here.

*SupportAbility is not an affiliate of LA Fitness. This link will take you to an outside webpage, and any representations or warranties made therein are made by SupportAbility only, and not by LA Fitness.

Consult with your physician before starting a new fitness regimen.

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