My name is Matt Berg, and I’m a Terry Lamb Enrichment Scholarship recipient. I’m 41 (soon to be 42) and work in a busy 911 center in Virginia. My fitness journey is long and complicated.
My fitness journey actually started in high school. As an older hemophiliac I dealt with the times before prophy dosing and before they even knew how to treat an inhibitor. Unfortunately, that meant hundreds of traumatic injuries, and lifelong issues. I had a knee replaced at 34 years old, and I’m over due to get both ankles done, but keep trying to push them off due to work issues. I also had a significant spinal injury when I was younger. That spinal injury left my left foot with permanent damage and me unable to move my toes, and with limited feeling in the whole leg. After a few years wearing shoes was causing such extreme pain that we went in, and I was scheduled for surgery both to release my arch and fix my deformed toes. After I had that surgery, I decided to hit up the weight room at high school to “bulk up”, since I couldn’t play basketball while I healed.
I did not initially seek any help and not much guidance (I would recommend you not go that route). Even still I had lots of success, and finished out high school bench pressing 315 lbs. and leg pressing 650 lbs. I ended high school in the best shape of my life, and after initially getting multiple bleeds once my muscles became used to weightlifting, I ended up having no bleeds as a severe hemophiliac for about 11 months. Prior to that I generally had one every week or two.
My arthritis kicked into overdrive in college and almost had me withdrawing because I couldn’t walk. I ended up meeting a great guy named Terry Lamb, coincidentally. My Mom met him first, and later introduced me. Terry and I became fast friends. One of the things Terry did was start up the hemophilia group meeting up to watch Norfolk Tides games, and one of the speakers I remembered was a guy named Jim White, who owns Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios. I was fairly cynical at that point and weighed probably 250 lbs. (up from 190 lbs. at high school graduation). Jim said, “anyone can do this”. I laughed. I had tried so many times to diet and exercise, and I had been in fantastic shape. I figured this guy was like everyone else and didn’t “get” being a hemophiliac.
Fast forward to COVID. When I turned 40, I was in the worst shape of my life. I was having tons of trouble walking, I had zero energy, emotionally spent, pain was at an all-time high. I remembered that meeting and my wife encouraged me to go. I initially showed up and said I wanted to train with someone but blew off the dietician. I had just been diagnosed with celiac disease and had a very bad experience with another dietician. Right after I started working out my trainer encouraged me to see one of their dieticians. The non-judgmental listening, the fact driven ideas and pointers, the commonsense substitutions, combined with precision workouts from a trainer who is also a physical therapist made an enormous difference. I lost 60 lbs. in less than a year. Unfortunately, I “paused” my training due to the cost, and quickly fell into old habits of sitting too often, eating things that were not beneficial to my long-term health, and taking the easy road. I have gained back 30 lbs.!!! I made the decision to go back and reapply myself and was fortunate enough to be granted a Terry Lamb Scholarship to help offset some of my costs.
I would highly encourage everyone, hemophiliac or not, to see a good dietician and get into an exercise program. I cannot even describe how good I felt losing 60 lbs. I felt like I had a new lease on life, and I paused considering getting my ankles done. Things like this scholarship do more than keep Terry alive for those of us who knew him, but also help live life as Jim White puts it “really, truly fit”.