June 21, 2016
Reed Handlery and Ashley Saba, students in Arnold School of Public Health’s Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program, are familiar with working together in the classroom to accomplish goals, but recently both stepped outside the classroom to compete together on NBC’s Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge. The reality show is designed to challenge a group’s determination, will, and endurance as they race across a Spartan course in hopes of earning the best time, bragging rights, and a cash prize.
The road to the Spartan race wasn’t easy for Handlery or Saba. Originally from California, Handlery says the race proved challenging for him when his wife, Kaci, an Arnold School DPT graduate, couldn’t compete because of injury. Competing without his partner and wife taught him to rely more on his other teammates and drove home the importance of teamwork.
Saba, a Maryland native, also learned the importance of teamwork while overcoming her fear of heights during the training. Saba says it was the support of her teammates and their belief in her that helped her over the high obstacles each time.
Saba and Handlery’s experience with the Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge resulted in lessons that didn’t just apply to their race, but have followed through to their DPT program as well. “I think it is easy for us as physical therapists to get frustrated with a patient who may be scared or hesitant to complete a task we want them to do because we do not understand their fear,” says Saba. “But if we can relate to how they may be feeling, then we are better able to talk them through their fear and work with them in a way that they will trust us and they can then learn to be more independent themselves.”
“As a future physical therapist, I think you have to practice what you preach,” says Handlery, as he reflects on the experience. “My wife and I both strive to be in great physical shape, not only because exercise has so many benefits, but also because we love to be challenged. We are constantly self-reflecting and looking for ways to improve the world around us, which we believe starts at an individual level, but can then spread to a more global level.”
Catch Saba and Handlery's episode of NBC’s Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge on Thursday, June 23 at 9 p.m.