If you’ve been looking for a story of triumph to help get you motivated, look no further than Shannon Prasarn.
Seven years ago, the seemingly perfect life of our May/June cover athlete was turned upside down when her boyfriend Paul survived a life-threatening accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down. Suddenly, the man who was her training buddy and life partner, needed her to help him with the everyday tasks they had once taken for granted. As she took on the role of his caretaker, she gradually stopped caring for herself, and it wasn’t long before her physical and mental health suffered the consequences. Depression and fast foods eventually took their toll and by the end of that year, she had gained 25 pounds.
But she wouldn’t go down with a fight. Refusing to be a victim, one morning Shannon threw on her sneakers and grabbed the weights. Slowly, painfully, she worked on healing herself, even if it was just a few minutes a day in the gym, until finally, her love of life and lifting returned.
Today, Shannon is nothing short of a success story. Contagiously happy and ridiculously fit, she and Paul, who is now her husband, have a new appreciation for life. Still confined to a wheelchair, Paul has found ways to workout, and the two are gym junkies once again. With her body in commendable shape, Shannon has her sights set on fitness modeling and offers counseling to high school students on the importance of self-care. And while life will never be easy, for this resilient woman, it’s still beautiful.
SFM: What was the hardest part about getting back in the gym? SP: The hardest part was going alone. Before my husband’s accident we would go to the gym together, so it just didn’t feel right and I felt guilty. But he encouraged me to go so even if I was exhausted I would go and do something. I started back slow, working out 3-4 times a week. Although I didn’t see physical changes immediately, the mental benefits were immeasurable for me. Working out was very therapeutic for me at that time.
SFM: How often do you train these days? SP: I usually train five times a week. I do four lifting days and one functional, and try to get in two additional cardio sessions.
SFM: Do you prefer to train alone or with a buddy? SP: I sometimes train with my husband, but he is much stronger than me and needs help picking up the weights (he has no core control because his line of injury is at the sternum, so someone has to hand the weights to him). I have recently started working out with a friend and it’s been a nice change. Normally I go at it solo though.
SFM: What would you like to add to your training but haven’t gotten around to? SP: Yoga! I am really making this my goal, for flexibility and mobility reasons, mostly.
SFM: What do you do when you’re just not in the mood to work out? SP: I just try to do something. Something is better than nothing. If it’s a leg day and the stars aren’t aligned, I will switch it up and take a HIIT class or run the stairs in my building. I always have a plan, but am able to modify if necessary.
Read Shannon’s full story and interview in the May/June issue of STRONG Fitness Magazine.
Written by STRONG Editors Kirstyn Brown & Sandy Braz Photography by Paul Buceta | Makeup & Hair by Valeria Nova of Two Chicks & Some Lipstick