Stonerise Care Blog
Seeing the Stonerise Spirit in a Spartan
For Ashley Hall, physical activity isn’t just what she focuses on with patients at Stonerise Rainelle each day. Pushing herself to new fitness limits all the time is part of her identity, just as being a Physical Therapy Assistant is, too.
Ashley has been a PTA with Stonerise Rainelle for more than five years, but her interest in physical therapy was planted by a meaningful seed in her childhood. Ashley’s father was in a motorcycle accident and had to undergo much therapy to even be able to walk again. Seeing his hard work and his transformation steered her to physical therapy as soon as she graduated from high school.
She started out in an athletic training program and found herself back home, working with the local high school football team. She never once doubted that calling, and loved the work right out of the gate. Once she enrolled in a PT program, she began doing clinical rotations. When the time came for her to do work at Stonerise Rainelle, Ashley thought she would hate the experience, but quickly fell in love with helping patients find ways to enjoy themselves again.
“You get attached to the patients, and I really love them,” Ashley said. “I’m able to spend a lot of time with them, where some of the other care team members have a tighter schedule, my sessions with patients are 25 minutes to 55 minutes, and some of them are five days a week.”
Ashley said she sees a lot of patients who come to her and say they want to walk — a desire she understands well. Some of her patients work with her to be able to sit and stand on their own, and others are there long term, but all of them look to her not only for instruction and guidance, but also motivation and energy. It’s then that Ashley’s personal brand of dedication to fitness shines brightly. A lot of patients naturally ask Ashley what she does in her free time or they hear her talking about her day with other team members, and they learn they’re in the midst of a Spartan.
Ashley most recently participated in the Spartan Race in Glen Jean, WV on Aug. 29, coming in 10th place among thousands in the women’s division. It was fellow Stonerise team members who first led Ashley to the series of grueling obstacle course racing. Without a clue what she was agreeing to, Ashley joined her manager at the time and a few other team members in signing up for her first Spartan race. Even after breaking her arm, Ashley still attended the race and finished, to her husband’s amazement, spurring him to join her new-found hobby.
“We’ve done Spartans in Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Hawaii, Montana and Nashville just for fun,” Ashley said. “After he got blisters in Hawaii, he said he’d never do it again, so he started training me, and I started getting competitive.
“I got third in one, and it really lit my fire.”
Spartan Race events range from roughly 3 miles to 16 miles, and Ashley works hard year-round to stay Spartan strong.
“I get up at 5, get to work early, and I always do some kind of cardio after work, and then when my husband gets home, we’ll go to the gym together and do the strength-training,” she said. “I usually only run three days a week and train six days a week, but I may change it up when a race is coming.”
And during her most recent Spartan race, Ashley carried her patients with her in her mind while she competed, wearing a Stonerise T-shirt, even through muddy obstacles.
“I was proud to wear it,” she said. “I just know it’s great to be able to be healthy because you’re representing those patients, so it’s good for all of them to know you’re trying to take care of yourself, too.”
And even a Spartan gets discouraged. Ashley said her husband recently retired from the military and served twice overseas in Afghanistan.
“He knows a lot of people who can’t do this anymore, and a lot of those people are my patients,” Ashley said. “I’ll get frustrated in my training and think I can still do it — there are people who can’t.”
That kind of commitment to fitness helps Ashley dig deep with each patient to help them reach their goals. One of her most memorable patients had come in after a stroke and couldn’t walk.
“She wasn’t very old, but she had a lot of issues and we worked with her for a very long time,” Ashley said. “When she got to go home to her husband and kids, I still remember that day, everybody was crying because it was a team effort, with Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Speech Therapy.”