ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Two and a half years ago, Tiffany Eickhoff couldn’t walk down the stairs to attend her first training session. Her Cerebral Palsy limited much of her travel to a motorized scooter, and she says she gained so much weight, it was like carrying a second person on her back. Now, she’s down 70 pounds, and dead lifting 55 pounds.
Eickhoff’s battle began about 29-years-ago, when she was 3-months-old and diagnosed with Diplegic Cerebral Palsy. She has used walking poles all her life, and used a scooter through most of college, at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
“I started physical therapy when I was at a very, very young age and had to battle ever since,” Eickhoff says. “But I know I was born this way for a reason.”
She has since completed four 5K’s and most recently a 10K this past October, at SSM Physical Therapy’s 2nd Annual Run for the Mission. Her life dramatically changed in the last two years, when she met some of her father’s co-workers, St. Louis-area police officers Greg and Andria Van Mierlo.
Andria Van Mierlo was training for a triathlon in 2014, when Eickhoff’s father asked the former personal trainer, and level 1 certified CrossFit trainer, to help his daughter.
The Van Mierlo’s started BlueLine Fitness in their basement five years ago. The home gym isn’t much more than a couple squat racks, barbells, padded floor mats, weighted balls and niche following of clients. But it’s lead by a couple with two life times of fitness experience and a passion for helping.
“I can remember when I first started I couldn’t walk down the steps to their basement,” Eickhoff says. “I wasn’t strong enough yet to do that.”
So Andria and Tiffany started to workout in Eickhoff’s parent’s pool. Then, gradually stepped up the training.
“We literally started with, she would sit in a chair and stand up. That was her work out for a while,” Andria Van Mierlo says. “And she would stand on a set of steps, then she would lift her foot up and step down. And it was just getting that muscle memory and getting her body to know, this is what it needs to do.”
Now, Eickhoff says back squats and burpees are some of her favorite circuit workouts. And her trainers both agree she is the hardest working client they have.
Eickoffs says she wants to inspire people around the world, and will continue to win her battle with cerebral palsy when she runs in another 5K in April. And she hasn’t picked which 10-mile race she wants to be her first, but 2017 seems like the year it will happen for her.
“When I was little and growing up, I never thought I would be able to really do things like that, like lift big weights, or do a burpee,” Eickhoff says. “But now I know that the sky’s the limit for me”
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