Don’t tell Lazar Buhalo that working out is a game for the young.
The 76-year-old Mission man has been exercising with a personal trainer for the past six months and he’s feeling better than he has in years.
But it wasn’t an easy road to get to the gym.
Buhalo had been diagnosed with colon cancer and had to undergo chemo and radiation therapy.
“Afterwards there was quite a bit of nerve damage, particularly in my legs.”
After going to specialists in neurology and circulation issues, Buhalo was told there was nothing left they could do for him.
“It got to the point that I couldn’t walk more than 30 metres.”
Frustrating for a man who still loved to go canoeing. He was forced to rig a pulley system to get himself in and out of his canoe because his legs couldn’t hold him.
Being forced to sit all the time just made his circulation issues worse and caused him more pain.
He became more and more frustrated until he happened to drive by a sandwich board sign advertising a personal trainer.
“I thought well, we’ve tried everything else let’s give this one a try.”
That’s when he met Reese Wonnacott and Buhalo’s life started to change.
“I came in and talked to Reese about what the problem was and he set up a particular program, just to work on my legs.”
After eight months of being “almost crippled” Buhalo said he was ready to give it a try.
Two months later, his legs were functioning again, to the point that he could resume walking.
“I walk about a kilometre a day now.”
After showing such positive results, Buhalo decided to start working on his upper body as well.
Wonnacott, who runs ProFormance Fitness in Mission, said from the moment Buhalo came in, he knew he could help him.
“Everybody has their own ailments and issues and he seemed eager so I was happy to work with him. He had already taken the first step, just walking through the door. That’s always the hardest part.”
Wonnacott put together a program that took into account his client’s health issues, goals and age.
“It started off pretty simple. You just have to get somebody moving.”
He started Buhalo with footwork drills to move his feet and regain control of each step. Then moved on to speed and agility and improving range of motion.
“Everything seems to have progressed well. I’ve been impressed with him. He’s really powered through,” said Wonnacott.
As a personal trainer, Wonnacott knows the benefits of remaining active and tries to promote it.
“It’s about quality of life. What kind of life do you want to be living? How long do you want to live it?”
He said he trains a lot of people in their retirement years and “they see the benefit.”
Buhalo is now a believer. He still works out three days a week and plans to continue.
“I’m 76 so I figure I should go for another 10 years with a personal trainer.”
And when he’s not working out, he’s happy to go out on the water in his canoe, with no need of a pulley.