Woman with cerebral palsy who beat cancer becomes CrossFit trainer

By Caitlin O'Kane

/ CBS News

Stephanie Hammerman is proof that the human body is capable of amazing things. Hammerman, who goes by "Steph the Hammer," was born with cerebral palsy and just beat cancer. And now she's a CrossFit trainer, hoping to inspire others through fitness.

Hammerman told CBS News she has always been physically fit and she thinks it saved her life. In 2016, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, stage 3B. She was determined to beat it and continued to work out through her 29 weeks of treatment.

"My boyfriend Tyler and I made the experience as fun as we could," Hammerman said. "There were a couple of bad days sprinkled into a bunch of good days. I feel very lucky that I was able to be surrounded by people that I love and have enough strength to continue to train throughout my treatment."

View this post on Instagram

3 years ago was the last time I dead lifted 70#. Tonight this happened! 6pm was a party tonight! I love the @hammerdrivenfitness community! ♥️

A post shared by Steph "The Hammer" Hammerman (@stephthehammer) on

Hammerman uses a wheelchair and crutches, but she still pushes herself to run, do pushups, lift weights and row. There aren't many exercises she can't do. She is even able to rock climb.

She continued to do all of this, and after the first seven weeks of treatment, Hammerman was cancer-free. She thought it was a natural progression to continue using fitness to do good. She became a CrossFit trainer and opened a gym, Hammer Driven Fitness in Knightdale, North Carolina.

"I wanted a new challenge and it was definitely an experience to learn how to connect with athletes on the level that I do now," the gym owner said. Hammerman trains people of all abilities and ages. Hammer Driver Fitness doesn't turn anyone away – her youngest client is 6 years old, and her oldest is 69.

View this post on Instagram

This morning @beckymotivates came into @hammerdrivenfitness. Sit-ups is not something she had done before, but they were in the workout so, I came up with this adaptation to help her achieve success. It was awesome to see you work girl! #staydriven #communityworkout #allabilitieswelcome #justdontquit #knightdale #nike #training

A post shared by Steph "The Hammer" Hammerman (@stephthehammer) on

In addition to opening her own gym and becoming a certified trainer, Hammerman was also chosen as Nike's first adaptive training athlete in 2018.

"Fitness has given me a platform that I never even dreamed was possible," she said. "I love the fact that I get to wake up every day and do something that I love."

"I am also grateful for the fact that I have so many abilities and I'm able to be an example for what is possible with a little bit of hard work and a lot of determination," the 29-year-old trainer said. As a cancer survivor and athlete, Hammerman knows that the human body is more capable than many may think – and she's hoping to instill that lesson in others.

First published on April 29, 2019 / 11:34 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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