Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hospital trainer forges bond with older clientele

ZEPHYRHILLS — In high school, Keymo Pearson did the long and triple jump for the Pasco Pirates, but he was best at the high jump, where he made the state finals three of his four years on varsity.

Now, as the head fitness trainer at Florida Hospital Zephyrhills, this former standout athlete uses his skills to help a population far removed from competitive sports.

The hospital's gym has members of all ages and abilities, catering to people with special needs like heart conditions, diabetes or simply advanced age.

Pearson, 29, says he has found a calling helping them.

"He has a way of pushing us without showing it," 72-year-old gym member Judy Dalrymple said. "I have personally seen people do much more than when they started. You can see the progression."

Dalrymple started coming to the hospital gym a decade ago, when Pearson was just graduating from high school. The two have linked up to form a diabetes-fighting team. Dalrymple's parents and sister died due to complications from the disease. Dalrymple is the only one in her family tree who is not diabetic. She credits her exercise regimen with staving off the disease.

It's a stark contrast from the clientele Pearson was used to working with.

"Most athletes when they complain to you, nine times out of 10 they can keep going," Pearson said. When dealing with special populations, "You have to stop, take their blood pressure, oxygen levels, heart rate. It's taken more seriously."

Pearson arrived at Zephyrhills after an up-and-down college career. Edward Waters College in Jacksonville was his first stop. But the coach who recruited him had left before Pearson even arrived on campus. Next he landed at Independence Community College in Kansas, where he got his track and field career back on track and made nationals in back-to-back years in the high jump. Finally, a scholarship offer lured him from Independence to nearby Friends University.

He made the NAIA nationals in both the triple and long jump, but back home in Florida his grandparents were in failing health.

"My grandmother ended up dying before I even got back," Pearson said. "I was able to spend time with my grandfather before he passed away, but that's one of my biggest regrets — not being here when my grandmother died."

Spending his grandfather's last few months with him helped cement Pearson's bond with the clients he now serves.

Rose Smith, 75, is one of them.

"We have a relationship now where she'll just come up to me and say, 'I don't have my hearing aid in today,' " Pearson said. "Then I know that I need to look right at her when I talk and talk louder."

The bond goes both ways.

"I'm going on vacation for two weeks and I'm dreading not being able to come (to Pearson's classes)," Smith said.

Hospital trainer forges bond with older clientele 10/04/13 [Last modified: Friday, October 4, 2013 6:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Empire' star Grace Byers keynotes USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy luncheon

    Human Interest

    BY AMY SCHERZER

    TAMPA — The first University of South Florida graduate to address the USF's Women in Leadership & Philanthropy supporters, Grace Gealey Byers, class of 2006, centered her speech on her first name, turning it into a verb to share life lessons.

    Grace Byers, University of South Florida Class of 2006, stars on the Fox television show Empire. She delivered the keynote at the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy luncheon Friday. Photo by Amy Scherzer
  2. Southeast Seminole Heights holds candlelight vigil for victims' families and each other

    News

    TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.

    A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
  3. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  4. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  5. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series

    Ml

    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.