Back Injury in Switzerland – Part Two: Personal Trainer – Lorraine Jenkins – English speaking

(This is part of a 3-post series regarding a back and neck injury I had in Switzerland from 2014-2015. I have been asked by many people how I got “better” so quickly and miraculously. I hope my information is helpful.)

Lorraine works at Booster Pilates with the Lagree Fitness Method ( and has a great deal of expertise in physical fitness, overall health, and nutrition. She speaks English (from the UK), Italian, and a bit of German.

Today, we joke about my first day in May of 2014 with Lorraine. My shoulders were completely caved in, I looked like a turtle. I had major balance problems because there was no core anymore, no real center of gravity – only mental fear and physical pain in my neck and back. But, I could walk and that’s what she worked with. My legs were strong…and that was it.

Lorraine is an excellent diagnostician. She knows the body so well. Lorraine’s trinity is that she intrinsically knows how much is too much, how much is reparative, and how much is therapeutic. Finding a trainer who will quickly discern what keeps you plateaued on days when your body is aching (especially during the first few months of physical therapy), what gets you loose on days when your muscles are tight, and what builds your strength and endurance. That’s her special recipe and here are specific examples of how she does it, using Lagree terminology.

The Catfish- This is an exercise that Lorraine used to build my confidence. She told me from the second week, “you’re The Catfish Queen.” This has variations and the “normal” version is all we did for three months. Why? Because I simply could not handle more and she knew it. The first time we tried the 2nd variation, she said, “this will be easy for The Catfish Queen” and it was.

The Wheelbarrow- Lorraine almost always starts with this and reminds me to feel in my abs. But, I couldn’t at first. I felt it in my back because I didn’t really have “an ab.” I could only do it for about 30 seconds. I think she used The Wheelbarrow as a litmus test to know, each workout, how my body was doing that day. It is the best way to start a Lagree workout (in my opinion) because of that reason. If something is off, somewhere in the body, you know it when you do The Wheelbarrow.

Plank to Pike- Both of us felt it the day I did this. This is a freaking tough thing to do. In March, I was told I would probably be in a wheelchair by June. One morning in October, Lorraine and I attempted The Plank to Pike. It’s December now and we do 4 of the 5 variations. Truly a miracle.

Lorraine Jenkins “Lo-J”. Wherever she is in Switzerland, find her. Lorraine has the patience of a saint. Twice, I came into the studio crying and I cried during the entire workout. Once, I was so frustrated with myself, I screamed (I never scream) at her. As I said, there is something inherent in her that just “gets” it. The woman works with pregnant women, injured women, other Pilates instructors, anyone. She “gets” it.

Switzerland doesn’t want your Grand Big Mac, Ronald.

Color me red and white in prideful appreciation for the current Swiss backlash against the Grand Big Mac.

God bless your cholesterol-heavy heart Ronald, you knew that wouldn’t be popular here, didn’t you? You’re little tag line on the advert “only for a limited time” almost seems like “I am really sorry to have to advertise this in your exercise/recycling/good health-focused country. They are making me.”

Page two of the daily paper yesterday (this is the paper everyone reads, for free, while utilizing public transport, which the vast majority of us do) had this to say, “Criticism about the new jumbo burger.” The article then went on to tear the not-so-Grand Big Mac to shred(ded lettuce…ha ha, I couldn’t help myself). First attack was not on the ingredients or daily fat intake or anything a bit intangible.

They attacked the size. Simple, concise, efficient attack. The Grand Big Mac is 45% bigger than the regular one.

It was so Swiss and so brilliant. They go on to attack different aspects, but the crux of the argument is simple: this company is trying to make us 45% bigger like this burger. Eww. Gross.

Someone refers to the burger as “scandalous.” Someone else refers to the McDonald’s spokeswoman as representing “the calorie bomb.” Damn! The only redeeming component appears to be the half a head of lettuce we see in the Grand Big Mac’s debutant photo, but that is left out. No, every sentence is loaded with burger-busting explosives. Bravo.

This is why Switzerland has 90-year olds who hike in the mountains. This is why it’s fairly normal to see people on crutches throughout the year. These people are active and they are moving. They don’t want to add 45% to their meals. They want to be moving in a year, five years, fifty years. Also, they also like their meals; so they wouldn’t want to waste 3/4 of their daily food requirements in one go.

Go back and look at this blog post. Read all the things that contribute, daily, to the good health of the inhabitants in this country.

1) Utilizing public transportation – moving ourselves around keeps muscles functioning, oxygen flowing, and encourages social awareness (though some people fail miserably in this last area)

2) Recycling – keeps us from being a wasteful nation, focused on consumption without consequence. They don’t give us a choice here. You’ll recycle or you pay more because trash bags are expensive here…on purpose. Recycling is made easy and it’s just part of our daily lives.

3) Size control – ha ha. This is a bit of a sensitive subject. But, yes. Switzerland is hyper-conscious about keeping the, ahem, portions small. (Even of the portions of foreigners.)

4) Daily news – twice a day, we read the daily news. Why? It’s free. It’s presented to us not only via the web, but also in our hands. I cannot imagine Swiss transport without newspapers scattered here and there. This contributes to global, regional, and local awareness. It also makes for a well-informed society that is READING. Not bad.

5) Fresh vegetables and fruits – I have never seen people eating vegetables and fruits more in my life. Granted, we are spoiled. We have fresh veggies and fruits at our disposal all the time. You buy them on the run and you don’t even think twice. For example, I would never walk into a fast food place and grab fries for a train ride. I do, often, grab an apple and/or some carrots.

I’m not anti-McDonald’s. I am a huge supporter of the work done at the Ronald McDonald houses, by the way. But, what is the overall cost? For every Ronald McDonald house, doing amazing work, there are probably thousands of cases of coronary disease attributable to bad health habits encouraged by the first “McDonald’s Happy Meal.” Taking care of sick kids is really important. Keeping kids from getting sick…can I be so bold as to say it’s MORE important?

Nevertheless, I don’t think Switzerland was a great launch site for the Grand Big Mac, Calorie Bomb. Our golden bodies are a bit more important to us than your golden arches, in this case.