DENVER - A Highlands Ranch mother of four is making remarkable progress after nearly dying in a car accident in April and having her feet amputated.
For many of us, success at the gym is weighed in pounds and repetitions. "I'm up for a challenge," says Kristin Hopkins, while working out at Prestige Fitness at 5150 E. Arapahoe Rd.
For the 43-year-old, the challenge is made greater with prosthetic feet. "It's been June 20th to today, over one month of getting your balance alright. That's been the hardest thing," she says about her exercise routine.
It's the hardest thing since surviving six days in a mangled car after a rollover down a mountain ravine. She was eventually spotted by passersby, but not in time to save her feet.
"It's life. It's reality. I could sit in a room and cry or do something to better yourself," she says. That something is getting back in shape after lying in a hospital and rehab bed for two months. "My legs and muscles have atrophied and everything," she says. Her prosthetics can't flex, so her personal trainer adjusts her workout.
"We have to find other way to get her heart rate up: seated ropes, hand bikes, using light weights, like interval training," says Jinho Tohara. He says Kristin is inspiring because she works very hard. He says fully able-bodied people come in to the gym and are not as motivated.
"She does not want me to touch or help her. I understand that because at some point in time, she has do it on her own," says Tohara.
"In the hospital, I was the same way, don't touch my wheelchair, I can do this. I have to do it in life. I have to learn to do it. Let me figure it out by myself," she says. It's a can-do attitude that's moved her from a walker, to crutches, to a cane, to walking all on her own.
Kristin is overcoming new challenges every day. The latest is driving. She got a new car last week. It's the first time she's been behind the wheel since her accident.
"No hand controls. It's all me driving. The gas pedal, instead of a few inches of your toe on there, my whole foot has to go on it. I wouldn't say it's easy, but it's not as difficult as one think it would be," she says.
And now she'll drive toward her next goal.
"I'll say by Christmas hopefully I can do a pull-up. Because that's been a goal of mine. It may be a cheesy goal, but you know," she chuckles. Nothing has stopped her yet.
Kristin says she can't remember why she crashed, or what she was doing in the mountains.
Expect a book on her recovery out in the fall.