Cornelius Finds Friendship, Inspiration Through Personal Training at Orthman YMCA

Cozad native Haley Cornelius has spent half her life in a wheelchair. But, she hasn’t let that stop her from living a full and active life. From backpacking in Europe to vacationing in Colorado, Haley is always on the go.

Haley, 30, became a paraplegic at age 14 after a jet ski/boating accident at Johnson Lake. In April, she joined the Orthman Community YMCA after a friend asked her to be a personal training partner. The two signed up for training with Melanie Shubert, who has taken them through every training regimen possible.

“She’s the most creative person in terms of workouts,” Haley said of Melanie.

Haley and her training partner call Melanie the “Core Commando” for her intense work on their core muscles.

Haley appreciates Melanie’s dedication to learning about her unique situation.

“My body is a very weird case,” Haley said. “It’s a trainer’s nightmare. Yet, Melanie is so knowledgeable and educated, and she is willing to take the time to learn about my body.”

Haley recently moved back to the area (she lives at Johnson Lake) from Texas. She worked with trainers at gyms in college and in Texas instead of going to physical therapy. She was concerned she wouldn’t find a trainer once she moved back to Nebraska. But, because of the Orthman Community YMCA, she did.

“We found another personal trainer that was willing to take on my case, and she’s been amazing,” Haley said.
With an elevator and wide door frames, Haley said she has found the Orthman YMCA to be accessible for her. And, she appreciates the ability to have some privacy in the upstairs fitness room during her workouts, especially on difficult days.

She also enjoys the new relationships she has established with other Y members, including one of Melanie’s other clients, Lewis Vise.

Haley continues to work on her upper body strength at the Y in preparation for her next European back-packing trip and other great adventures.

Because she is in a wheelchair, Haley said it’s important for her to keep her weight down and find ways to exercise her heart. At home, she can ride a bike that is uniquely adapted to her. And, now she has more exercise options at the Orthman YMCA. 

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