"Always running." That's what Tony Williams, 50, is always doing and it's also the name of his company, Always Running, where he helps people safely reach their fitness goals. "We stress taking care of your body first," says Tony, and he often suggests Virginia Mason to clients when they have concerns or get injured. "A lot of people have bunion or ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) issues that they get taken care of at Virginia Mason."
Tony, who's been running 36 years, first went to Virginia Mason for back pain he had at the height of his career. He chose Virginia Mason because doctors there had helped a Division 1 All-American elite distance-runner Tony knew from college. The athlete had liked the care he received for his back problem.
Then, about 15 years ago, Tony was out for a run and had so much pain in his leg he had to stop at a quarter-mile. At Virginia Mason, dead cartilage was found behind Tony's knee cap. This was probably from an injury he had sustained 10 years earlier when his knee took the brunt of a collision with a light pole. At Virginia Mason, the dead cartilage was cut away and holes drilled into the bone to create "trauma" so scar tissue would form and the knee would essentially repair itself.
“The medical people at Virginia Mason never had the attitude of 'you're just a coach.”
Tony was told that while he would have pain for a while, when the knee was fully healed, it would be as good as new. "Today," says Tony, "the only way I can tell which knee had the problem is to look for the scar."
Because of his positive experiences with Virginia Mason, Tony began referring his clients there. He began to realize, however, that they were coming back into training before they were ready because they were either ignoring or hadn't fully comprehended their doctor's instructions. Tony began going to appointments with his clients so he could hear for himself the instructions they were given and could help keep them on the right path.
"The medical people at Virginia Mason never had the attitude of 'you're just a coach," says Tony. "They've always welcomed me and we've had a lot of great outcomes because we're all working together to help the patient."
Tony worked as a counselor before getting into fitness coaching and that may have something to do with how well he's able to counsel clients dealing with physical issues and injuries. "People sometimes want to go back out when they're not ready,"notes Tony. "It helps to have the doctor, physical therapist and me telling them the same thing."
Tony became a fitness coach almost by chance in the mid-1990s when he won a race and a woman who was there asked him to coach her husband. Even though he declined, she followed up her request with a letter and a check. Today, Tony has dozens of clients that he helps with everything from losing weight to training for a marathon.
"I try to get people to understand that what they do today will impact them tomorrow," says Tony. "You can force the human body to do a lot of things, but it's not a good idea in the long run. Our goal is to help people get to the next level safely and securely and with their long-term health in mind." Tony feels that this is the same philosophy of Virginia Mason's sports medicine doctors.
"I like that they are very straightforward," says Tony. "They say, 'this is what the problem is, this is what you need to do and this will be the outcome.'"
In addition to helping people achieve big goals like running a marathon, Tony's company also organizes fun runs and other activities for the sheer joy of getting out and being active. He's well known in the workout community and says he gets calls every week from people asking where they should go when they're having a physical problem. "I always tell them Virginia Mason," says Tony. "They're the best."
If you would like more information about Virginia Mason’s sports medicine program, call us (206) 341-3000.