Humans of Goodlife: Mark Daniels
Name: Mark Daniels
Club: Goodlife Success
For me, it is pretty simple, training at Goodlife has helped to give me part of my life back. I’m now fitter, stronger and healthier; I can vent all of my frustrations and then leave ready to face the world – a world that was recently changed forever.
It was December last year when I was involved in a motorcycle accident. A car swerved into me, sending me 30 metres in the air. I was left with 11 broken ribs, a broken neck, a ruptured kidney, a severed artery and a punctured left lung. I was fighting for my life on the side of the road, but it turns out the biggest battle was yet to come.
After 10 days in a coma and the doctors still uncertain of my survival, my family had to make the hardest decision of their lives. My right leg was slowly poisoning my body, so they were faced with the decision: remove the leg or I would die. I’ve been told that not only did my parents cry that day, but the surgeon who would perform the surgery shed a few tears with them too.
As everything slowly became reality for me, I struggled with my future. I begged my mum to let me die to escape the pain and from the dark thoughts in my head telling me I was going to be a “one-legged freak”. I had always been an active person and had started a career in the navy, so what would I do now? I didn’t want to be a burden on my family and friends.
It was my twin brother who set a challenge for me: when I left hospital I was to train with his Goodlife personal trainer, Demetrio. We are twins and have always been competitive, so I reached a point when I was ready to take this on. If not for myself, then at least to beat my brother. From that moment, even on the darkest of days, my brother can often be what keeps me going to each and every session.
I put everything into my training because what continues to motivate me is that I can change people’s perspective on what it means to be ‘disabled’. Sometimes, people might look at me and see me in a wheelchair, but then they’ll watch as I out-lift them, out-train them and out-perform them. My deadlift personal best is 125kg, which is back to what I could lift prior to my accident! I know that just by being in the gym, I have helped people overcome their own excuses to train harder and strive for better – it’s really humbling to have this effect.
Goodlife Success continues to be one of the only places that I feel normal, it really feels like home to me. My trainer has become a close friend, the staff are amazing and other members often greet me and ask how I’m doing.
My biggest fear? Not being able to get back to the same active lifestyle that I had before my accident. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me, but I know that the future looks bright for me now. My ongoing training helps to keep me fit and active, while I work towards my goals of finishing the Kokoda Track, training for the 2017 Invictus Games and reaching the Paralympics one day.
I remember being told that there will be people who will tell me that I can’t do things because I am disabled, but really, only I know what my body is truly capable of. People will probably tell me things are impossible but I will never stop pushing the limits. While I have learnt so much about myself – and life – during this journey, what I can say with absolute certainty is that this disability doesn’t, and never will, define me.
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