In February 2018, he started taking basic yoga and floor Pilates.
It wasn’t easy at first, he says. He remembers sitting next to a strong and flexible older woman in one of those classes. He could barely sit with his legs crossed.
They were just supposed to be breathing and relaxing, but he was sweating.
“She said to me, ‘Come back for two more,’ and the instructors encouraged me to come back,” he says.
He did as they said and, after two or three more classes, “it was like a 180,” he says.
“It sounds so simple, learning to how to breathe, but as simplistic as it was, it really changed my physical outlook,” he says. “After 18 years of living with chronic pain…it’s nothing short of a miracle.”
As the weeks passed and he grew stronger and more confident, he was taking body-pump classes and working the VersaClimber.
“It was different from being at a regular gym because the staff was friendly and they provide resources,” he says. “The instructors are mindful and say to go at your own pace. They’re detail oriented and understand proper movement.”
Exercise physiologist Helene Aulisio remembers Hipsher, who tends to stand out in a room, pushing himself in the gym.
“He’s so tall that everyone assumed he played basketball, and over time we all got to know him,” she says. “He came in fresh and was showing up often, slowly progressing with everything.”