Naomi Ban, a personal trainer and kinesiologist in Montreal, had always been a competitive athlete, chalking her aches and pains to sport-related injuries. That is, until 2013, when a new kind of pain set in — one she couldn’t ignore. “It felt like someone stabbed me with a knife in the lower back, twisted it, and left it there for eight months,” she recalls.
Upon receiving her ankylosing spondylitis diagnosis shortly thereafter, Ban was told to stop weight training and impact sports. In the absence of sports, Ban slipped into depression, and that’s when she realized she couldn’t give them up for long. So she studied the condition and devised a new training approach tailored to ankylosing spondylitis. With this new approach, Ban regained both the muscle she had lost as well as control over her life. She is now largely symptom-free.
In 2009, she founded the company NBworkout, which allowed her to formalize her approach and bring it to dozens of clients with ankylosing spondylitis. “I realized that so many people with the condition thought there was nothing they could do to improve their quality of life,” Ban says. She also shares solutions and advice on staying positive through her Facebook page, “Training with Ankylosing Spondylitis.” For Ban, the experience has taught her the importance of not being passive in moving toward your goals. “It’s pretty amazing that this dark event in my life turned my passion for training into a vocation to help others find that part of their lives they thought they had lost,” she says.