From wheelchair to walking: Fit for Life sign changes David Valdez’s life

When Ryan Valdez walked out of a local supermarket and noticed a sign advertising $10 memberships at Fit for Life gym in Colleyville, little did he know that it would transform the life of his wheelchair bound father, David Valdez.

Rewind to 2013 when David Valdez worked for a logistics company. There were no physical indications that he was on the verge of a major medical emergency except his wife Arlene, later recalled a change in temperament about a month before the incident and blurry vision the night before Valdez would collapse. The day of event began like any other. David Valdez was showering when without warning, he suffered two brain aneurysms and collapsed. A terrified Arlene found her husband unconscious in the shower where he almost drowned. Transported to one hospital then airlifted to another, Valdez required emergency surgery to stop the bleeding in his brain.

Valdez was hospitalized for two months. He lay in an induced coma for the first four weeks after surgery to allow his brain to rest and the fluid surrounding the brain to drain. Upon awakening it was apparent that Valdez had lost most of his functional mobility, long term/short term memory and speech. After his release from the hospital two months after the incident, Valdez was moved to rehab centers where the therapists helped him to reestablish the brain/muscle connection. His memory improved with time and he learned to speak again. While Valdez continued to improve, his mobility was still a challenge. Confined to a wheelchair, David Valdez wasn’t sure if he would ever walk on his own.

Ryan Valdez knew his dad, David, needed help. After watching his father suffer a seizure during an outing, Ryan decided to do his own research in an effort to improve his father’s quality of life.  Ryan discovered that vitamins, minerals, and exercise could help his dad. The day he went to purchase those vitamins was the day that changed his father’s life for the better.

Valdez and David

Ryan walked out of local market in Colleyville, Texas and noticed a sign for $10 per month memberships at Fit for Life gym in Colleyville. He walked into Fit for Life and spoke to one of the trainers who signed them up and encouraged Ryan to bring his father into the gym. When Ryan came home and told his dad he had signed up for a gym membership, David Valdez was all for it. “I told him…let’s do it! I have worked out all my life and I love the gym.” Prior to his aneurysms, Valdez worked out regularly prior to the incident and knew the value of a healthy lifestyle. In fact, his doctor speculated that Valdez’s overall good health was a contributing factor in surviving such a major injury to the brain.

Valdez began working out with trainer Lacie Gonzalez at Fit for Life. A survivor of a severe car wreck, Gonzalez had been told she would never walk again and would need a prosthetic leg. Through her own determination and exercise regimen, she strengthened her legs and avoided amputation. While Valdez was a challenge, Gonzalez was sure she could help him. “I did some research and realized that he had lost the ability to reconnect the brain to the legs. We were going to teach him to walk again”. When Valdez started the trainers at Fit for Life told him he would be walking in three months. David Valdez took his first steps in six weeks.

Valdez and Gonzalez

Valdez said that Fit for Life did something that none of the other rehab facilities had been able to do. The rehab centers, though admittedly wonderful facilities that helped strengthen his body, could not teach him to walk independently. “They could hook me up to a machine that would make me walk like a machine, but it wasn’t me walking, the machine was walking for me and that wasn’t going to work for me”. The first day his dad walked on his own, Ryan couldn’t believe it, “It was awesome and I think he will get better, so we’ll just keep doing it.”  Valdez agreed, “Getting up out of that chair was the best feeling I ever had. The wheelchair is now a choice, not a necessity.”

“The $10 membership Ryan Valdez saw advertised by our sign represented a possibility,” says Bob Fariss, co-owner of Fit for Life in Colleyville. “The membership made it possible for his dad to have access to a modern gym and placed David Valdez in an environment where members and trainers believed in him because they have experienced their own success. Lacie (David’s trainer) has the skills and tools, David added the desire to get out of that wheelchair”.

Valdez plans to write a book about his experience in order to help others who have suffered aneurysms and strokes and are left with mobility issues. “You can’t give up; you just have to keep going” says Valdez. story with video


Fit for Life Fitness Center is located at 4906 Colleyville Blvd, Colleyville Texas. Phone 817-953-6666 for more information on how you can begin your personal transformation.


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