David Lyons is no ordinary figure in the fitness world. Debilitating multiple sclerosis is no reason to stop training and take it easy. Far from it. David has set himself remarkable challenges since his diagnosis and has dedicated himself to inspiring others.
In Part 1 we learned about how David was involved in the fitness industry before being afflicted by MS and how her resolved to retain it as a central part of his life.
Q. How does your MS manifest itself?
Do you have enough space for a book here? There are so many MS symptoms. Some are consistent and some change constantly.
The permanent damage caused by my initial attack in 2006 has created numbness on my complete left side which makes my hand, arm and leg feel like I am carrying logs and not limbs. With the numbness there are feelings of pins and needles with pain consistently on that side. My left leg drags a bit and it is hard to coordinate anything with my left fingers.
Over the 11 years battling MS I have lost vision in sections of my left eye so seeing peripherally is impossible on that side and experience changes of these symptoms from time to time. Cognitively I struggle when I am tired to connect the dots in my brain on thoughts, so keeping my brain active with all this work actually helps me more than hurts.
I think the most relentless symptom is fatigue. I eat clean, supplement with great products, train hard and keep my body moving yet there is no way to get energy with MS. I wake up tired, I work tired, I train tired and I go to bed tired. I’ve learned to deal with it and know I have no option.
Would I rather be tired accomplishing great things or be tired doing nothing? I chose to push past it.
I have recently, after all these years, had an MS relapse which is now impacting the right side of my body and spine so I now need to re-work my training to compensate for these new limitations and issues.
I was told by doctors that this relapse was caused by a flu I contracted while traveling and since I am so active, exercise and eat well my body tried to fight off the relapse. It took several weeks to come on but it finally did and now I have one more chapter to this story of victory!
I’m setting a game plan with my training partner, Josh Bryant who is half my age… to make my comeback and train as hard as before. Bigger, Stronger. Better!
Q. Did the medical community advise against your fitness and training programmes?
The medical community has come a long way since 2006 when I was told I was through with working out in the gym.
At first, they believed that with Multiple Sclerosis you need to always rest and preserve your energy and that any exertion like training in a gym would be counter productive. So basically, they thought I was crazy to push and train as a competitive bodybuilder, especially at almost 50 years old!
But as they started to see how I was not only able to train as hard as I do despite MS, but I was feeling better and mentally motivated to beat the disease, they began to take notice and change their perspective. Now my fitness lifestyle, charity, book and training programs are supported and endorsed by many in the medical, pharmaceutical and health & fitness fields.
Q. You have gathered great support and testimonials from the likes of bodybuilding and Hollywood legend Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hercules actor Kevin Sorbo, pop star Latoya Jackson and talk show host Montel Williams. It must be so gratifying to have caught the attention and gained the support of such people.
I’m always humbled by this type of attention and support. It means so much to know that celebrities that have millions of fans, notice me, see me as an encouragement to others and go out of their way to acknowledge it.
Q. Your friend the great Lou Ferringo received an award at the same time as you, both presented by former Mr. America Mike Torchia, and then in 2015 the icon that is Arnold Schwarzenegger presented you with Health Advocate Lifetime Achievement Award. And last year you received the Lifetime Fitness Inspiration Award. How thrilling were these moments?
It’s hard to put moments like this into words. But again, humbling is the emotion that hits me every time this happens. To be seen by the fitness icons I’ve admired my whole life as someone to be honored is amazing and gives me hope and a feeling that I am actually making a positive impact in the world.
In the concluding Part 3 David tells about about his groundbreaking work to encourage others with MS and other disabilities to keep active. His MS Fitness Challenge has helped change lives and caught the attention of some of the biggest names in the USA.