Charles Muir is our Pre-gym exercise trainer. He grew up in Portland, Oregon. He graduated from Portland State University and was a newsroom staffer for The Oregonian for 13 years. A freelancer now, he writes the newspaper’s My Workout column. Besides working at the clinic and freelancing, Muir writes fiction. His short stories have appeared in amateur and professional publications, including two Bram Stoker Award-nominated anthologies.
Muir is a former powerlifter who has lifted weights most of his life. He joined Third Way Chiropractic in 2016 as a chiropractic assistant and exercise teacher. He considers the program he teaches—called Pre-gym—a form of gentle strengthening that builds confidence, stability and respect for the body's internal communication system. He learned the hard way how damaging it can be to “train through pain,” relying on adrenaline and fear of failure to work through weaknesses and imbalances.
His healing process began in 2012 when he came to Third Way Chiropractic:
Muir now seeks ways to become stronger and fitter that complement structural stability. His current routine includes walking, strength training, circuit work and stretching. He still applies what he learned in Pre-gym to his exercise. When he saw an opportunity to teach the class himself, he jumped at the chance. “Pre-gym helped me find the ground under me and strengthen my body gently. I know how to help you with Pre-gym as well.”
“When I stepped in the door, I had lost over seventy pounds and hundreds of pounds off my strength records. I had pushed my body too long in ways that masked my structural weaknesses and my body rebelled. Dr. Boothby began treating me and I took the clinic’s Pre-gym class. Whereas I used to bench press 315 pounds for strict reps, I now found myself struggling to move a light exercise tube properly. Despite my years learning how to safely handle maximum weights, I couldn't control my shoulders and wrists when I performed simple movements like the standing chest press and biceps curl."
“It felt strange to be both skilled and weak. It was also hard to release old narratives of myself based on past size and performance. The most immediate challenge though, was the day-to-day uncertainty of letting my body re-map itself during recovery. No one could give me a clear picture of how to proceed or define what I was feeling in language I understood. Laurie, my Pre-gym teacher, had never walked out from a squat rack with 500 pounds on her back. How could she know how hard it was for me to translate her directions to the broken powerlifting brain in my body? Still, I believed in her and Dr. Boothby and in the path I was taking. Slowly, I saw the benefits of improved mindfulness, breath, posture and movement.”