Thanyapura Personal Trainer Stefan Lange has just returned to Phuket, Thailand after he spent three months in Europe helping others with spinal disabilities. But this athlete’s story is something that will inspire you for years to come.
We all have that defining moment in our life – yours may have already come, or is yet to come, but for Personal Trainer Stefan Lange his was in 1999 while training for a triathlon. He was out cycling when a car hit the side of him and knocked him to the ground.
“At that moment, it is not even a second but a mili part of second, my whole life changed. I fell down onto the pavement and in that second, I knew I couldn’t move my legs but the weird thing was I had no cuts, no bruises or blood. To any onlooker, I looked fine but I knew I wasn’t,” he said.
In the days that followed the accident, Stefan was told he had broken his back and would never walk again.
“When I was brought to the hospital, I was taken for an MRI. I saw the photographs before the doctor even approached me. My spine was in a bad way and I knew what he was going to say to me when he came over. At that moment, he told me ‘Stefan, this life will never be the same again’,” Stefan continued.
“This was a really difficult time for me. Before the accident, I was 1.82m and I was present with all of my body, and in that 1 second I shrunk to 1.44m. I was the same height as when I was 11-years-old. It was all very new to me.”
But this inspirational trainer did not get upset in this moment. Stefan decided to make the best out of the situation and think about his future, stating that he “could have lived in this past but choose not to”.
“It was like I was standing in front of a white room with nothing inside at all – this room was my chance to start over. I left my old life behind and started my new life. At this moment, I did not cry I accepted the situation.”
Three months later, Stefan was released from the hospital and went straight back into work in sports therapy. The company he was working for before created a new job for him – one that would change his outlook on life and inspire him to help others to this day.“Because of my positive energy, they created a new job for me as a peer counsellor. This was a real surprise, but I knew it was just the start,” he said.
Now, Stefan spends his European summers in Germany and Lanzarote helping other people with the same disabilities, working for the German Wheelchair Association (DRS).
“This year when I went back to Germany, I trained people in how to use the wheelchair, taught them what they can do with sport and other things that could help them. I think my success percentage of people staying in a good place after their accident is over 90%. I have always been a very positive person.”