“Healthy” looks different for men and women. As most of us already know, our bodies function, grow, heal and age in distinct ways.
Personal trainer Melissa Bisnet, Epic Resolute Credentialed Trainer (Professional Billing) at OrthoCarolina, understands first-hand how important women-focused orthopedic research is – investigating the unique ways women’s bodies perform and how they respond to injury and treatment.
TRYING TO FIND BALANCE
Outside of her role on Team OC, Melissa owns and manages her own fitness brand, Ascent Fitness. She trains strictly women, working with men only by referral.
“The reason I train only women is because our physique is different,” Melissa said. “My clients are mostly middle-aged – women who are mothers, wives, corporate business owners, entrepreneurs. They're just juggling trying to find balance.”
Melissa was once one of these women, too. In her nearly 16 years with OrthoCarolina, she has held multiple positions, including Practice Manager of OrthoCarolina’s Hip & Knee Center. However, her career growth came with its own challenges.
As Melissa’s career became more demanding over time, she found herself increasingly burned out, separated from her family and quickly gaining weight. Her health had plummeted. She was fighting pre-diabetes, hypoglycemia, high blood pressure and fluid retention as well as the mental and emotional side effects.
“I didn’t have the right resources to focus on myself and find that balance,” Melissa said. “It's difficult when you're raising a family and trying to find time to work on your own wellness and health. We tend to push that to the back and make everyone else a priority.”
AN INNER WARRIOR
At her doctor’s encouragement, Melissa decided to make drastic life changes, including stepping down from her role as a practice manager and transitioning into OrthoCarolina’s Business Services department.
“It gave me the opportunity to set boundaries and look out for myself,” she said.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Melissa launched a fitness journey that would soon become a lifelong transformation. She tried CrossFit, joined a gym, enlisted a personal trainer and nutritionist, began weightlifting, became a certified cycle instructor and even competed in a bodybuilding competition.
“I always felt like there was this inner warrior in me,” Melissa said. “Once I started taking care of myself is when she came out and you could see it. And as my body started transforming, the women in my life started noticing and wanted to know what I was doing."
IT’S ALL ABOUT FORM & TECHNIQUE
In Melissa's own fitness experience, partnering with other women who know the female body helped Melissa get the results she wanted in a safe and sustainable way. So, she decided to pay it forward in her own personal training venture.
“It’s all about form and technique,” she said. “You don’t have to lift heavy to see benefits.”
Melissa carries this mindset into every client relationship. In any fitness regimen, whether bodybuilding or low-impact workouts, proper form and recovery time are critical.
“If you don't have the technique or foundation when you start lifting, you're going to be injured,” she said. “You're not performing the exercise correctly to target the muscle groups you want to grow, so you're not getting any benefit. You're just wearing yourself down.”
Most notably, proper weightlifting technique – form, intensity, recovery – often look different for different people. Melissa needs to know how to keep her female clients safe and healthy, and research-informed resources are a key tool.
"I use a lot of research and data to help build programs for my clients,” she said. “It’s extremely important to have access to research because as a trainer, someone is putting their care in my hands. They're going to trust what I say.”
RESEARCH PERSONALIZES HEALTH & FITNESS
Melissa says she is constantly learning from and sharing these resources with her own coaches and other female trainers to help build personalized programs for her clients.
“The last thing I want to do is have a client get hurt,” she said. "When I take on a client, I don't give them a plan that someone else has. They all have different goals and different needs.”
As Melissa continues her personal training journey, OrthoCarolina is proud to help provide the expertise and camaraderie that makes her work possible. All our bodies are unique in their own ways, and they all deserve to be cared for inside and out.
"I look at women who were in the same boat as I was,” Melissa said. “Some have body dysmorphia, some lack self-worth. I look at them and they're beautiful. I want them to see what I see."
For acute orthopedic injuries after scheduled clinic and urgent care hours, please utilize the HURT! App, in partnership with OrthoCarolina, for fast free access to orthopedic advice with a response time of ~4 minutes. Download here.