A few months ago, I asked my fellow fitness enthusiasts to share a photo of them competing in their chosen sport or trade. The only criteria was that it had to be athletic, somewhat current and they had to have competed in it. The last part is the cornerstone of the project: getting out on the stage and performing. A few people even competed in multiple areas, and I encouraged this by letting them send me as many applicable areas as they could claim. This wasn’t to single out anyone who hasn’t done that yet or never will. This was to highlight that there are many people all around us who not only find time for fitness in their fleeting free time, but have also found time to dedicate to going and doing it for the record books. Each one of these individuals has honed their craft to atleast the ability to compete and hold their own. Some have and will break records. Some have and will only break their personal records. But they are getting after it nevertheless. In the coming months, we will highlight one person from this mural each week to put a name to the faces before you, as well as their age and general obstacles/constraints they push past to make it happen. In so doing, we hope to encourage more of you to follow your fitness passion and then get out there and test it against others to make yourself a better you. Without further ado, the mural:
Meet Bob. Bob is an IT Consultant and Laptop Program Coordinator in Washington, D.C.
In his free time, Bob, like a growing number of other people, has an athletic passion he competitively pursues in his free time.
Bob is a wrestler. And when he’s not doing that, he’s powerlifting.
Whether it’s jumping in the ring to lay the smack down, or running a marathon, what’s your passion, and what are you doing to pursue it today? Don’t put it off til tomorrow. Start today. Join the growing ranks of everyday warriors. Find your place in our tapestry.
Say hello to one of our Bar Raisers: Joshua.
Joshua may seem like your average every day nerd. He works IT Support and enjoys gaming.
But Joshua is much more than that. Not long ago, Joshua began experiencing symptoms of depression. After a while, he decided he had enough and began battling back by lifting. That has opened the door to a continuing journey of transformation and he has now put himself outside of his comfort zone to compete among others in obstacle racing and softball, as well as dabbling in lifting and strongman with his friends on the side.
Kick your life up a notch. Fight back. Don’t settle. Whether it’s finding yourself in a rut, or being diagnosed with depression, find a way to dig deep and better your life every day.
If Joshua can do it, so can you. Be an example for others to follow.
You don’t know Jack. But you should.
Jack is a Bama Football fan, a father,a husband, and loves his tattoos.
Jack is also 42, used to have two broken legs, got into powerlifting a year ago, and had his first competition this year.
In 1997, Jack broke both legs in a motorcycle accident. It would have been easy to give up from there. However, Jack had a physical therapist who believed in him and never let him give up, even during some very dark and depressing moments during that time.
When Jack went back to work, he worked to help build bridges and water treatment plants until 2003. Along the way, however, he acquired a deeper love for the physical. In 1998, he found Aikido. In 2001, he found Russian Sambo. This was a dynamic shift from a flowing martial art to a rigid and powerful martial art. Jack found that he could pour his frustrations and pent up emotions into his martial arts. He needed someplace constructive to let out his anger and energy, and he found it. In 2003, he became a martial arts coach, still motivated by the therapist that saved him yearsbefore.
Fastforward to 2014, and Jack found powerlifting. According to Jack, it can all take a backseat now. He still trains in his martial arts, but he no longer coaches them. He trains others to lift.
“I have found a place to put all of my anger and all my hurt. The iron does not flinch when I yell at it. The weight does not cry when I throw it around and mistreat it on purpose. I can go to complete exhaustion and look over and the bar is still there looking at me like nothing happened and we’re still cool. I like that shit. A lot.”
Jack is an example of several values and points important to our cause:
Life is real. It’s not always pretty. Sometimes we just need someplace to vent raw aggression and emotions, and a barbell can be the best therapy.
Fitness is a journey and you may not realize it, but your actions inspire and motivate others when you let them. Jack will never forget his therapist.
Growth happens at all ages. 42 is not old. But it does mean your recovery time might slow down. Hasn’t slowed down Jack. Jack lifts a lot of weight.
Begin your journey, be flexible to change, make decisions that make you a better person, take stock of who is watching and always look for the opportunity to grow.
What do you get when you combine a veteran runner, CrossFitter and an Anesthesia Resident? You get Trish.
Growing up, Trish played every sport she could find, simply for the love of playing.
Later in life, as she started college, this transferred to a literal pursuit as she entered college:
she began distance running, completed her first half marathon, and moved on to triathlons.
After she graduated, and continued to medical school, though she dropped the biking and swimming, she kept running 40-50 miles per week.
Looking back on that time, she says that she was so thin that she looked ill.
During medical school, Trish was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Type IV, along with an aortic aneurysm involving the root.
“This combination of disorders makes working out somewhat hazardous, but I think not working out would be hazardous to my psyche,” says Trish. “When I started anesthesia residency, I discovered weights and took a break from cardio. After about 18 months of lifting, I found Crossfit and loved it. I work out at a gym with excellent coaches who keep me from getting hurt. This year I’ve also completed a half marathon and a triathlon. So I think that I’ve finally found a balance between my strength and my cardio. I was working towards my first half Ironman this fall when I sustained an injury to my thigh which put me in the hospital. Repeated injuries have kept me sidelined and prematurely ended my triathlon and competitive Crossfit seasons. I’m hoping to come back healthy in 2016 and complete both a half and a full Ironman.
I may never make it to the Crossfit games or to Kona for the Ironman Championships, but I am grateful for every day that I am able to lift or run or be active.”
Be like Trish. Be active, be hopeful, maintain the will to keep pursuing your goals. Life is going to throw you challenges, obstacles and hurdles that aren’t fair, common, or benign. There’s not always a lesson to be found. Sometimes, you have to provide the lesson yourself and be the inspiration. You have to create the path for others to follow.
Trish also embodies a concept at the core of BSF: you are more than your body. You are also your mind, your heart, and so much more. Some would argue that exercise is risky for Trish, and for many others. But sometimes it takes the heart and mind overcoming to the body to help move it along, and to keep truly living.
Elijah has a powerful message for everyone: run to greatness, not away from it.
Elijah was a trouble child who was kicked out of three middle schools and two high schools. Before he could find himself kicked out of his third high school, Elijah’s mother signed him up for a half marathon in order to repair their relationship and set him on the right path.
After that half marathon, Elijah had developed a taste for success and was dedicated to greatness. He enrolled in summer classes in order to bring his GPA up high enough to be able to run Cross Country. After that, once he knew that he could do much better… anything less than the best was unacceptable. He would go on to become Team Captain, run track and dabble in wrestling.
“Running taught me that hard work could foster great benefit,”
In 2014, Elijah ran his first mountain ultra marathon and competed in CrossFit. In 2015, he competed in powerlifting, Strongman, and ran more ultra marathons and trail races.
To date, Elijah has run over 10 major races and has his eyes set on a full year or Strongman next year.
“There’s nothing more amazing to me than seeing just how strong, fast, or far I can push my body while helping others to do the same.”
I’ve personally lifted alongside Elijah in one powerlifting competition, and he is an amazing man, working very hard at his age in order to reap the rewards now… and later in life. He also works as a personal trainer with Never Defeated Athletics.
Elijah is an example of never being too young to start as long as you are willing to find the internal drive to keep at it. Those who find the will to pull themselves out of bed every day and hit the ground running are the ones who will go the furthest.
Pull yourself up, lace up… and go.
Getting in shape is many things to many people. For Nora, it’s about re-dedication and taking the time to do things right.
Nora came from a competitive running background and was even a sponsored athlete at one point in her life.
After a brief lapse where she had fallen away from keeping in shape due to giving birth to two boys, stress, having life happen and hitting a low point, she sought out a way to get back the body she had before. She never thought that would mean getting into even greater shape than she has imagined.
“Thanks to CrossFit and clean eating, at 37 years of age, I am in the best shape of my entire life.”
Nora started CrossFit in May of 2012 and hasn’t looked back, except to catch her breath between WODs.
“Through CrossFit, I developed a particular love for Olympic Lifting and Powerlifting. Add my love for gymnastics and inversions and I’m a happy woman.”
Because of her re-dedication to fitness and her drive to constantly do more, Nora now coaches and manages CrossFit 623 and has gone on to pursue Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. She says she appreciates the camaraderie, physicality and mental challenges of her martial arts, as well as the emphasis on technique and not simply muscling through the movements.
She has even gone on to found her own fitness brand, MorFitMorFab to help others who are trying to find their fitness and nutritional nirvana.
Nora’s story is one that is near and dear to Bars and Stripes, as we continue to turn our personal fitness journeys into professional ones and help to push others to change their lives – whether it’s through CrossFit, Powerlifting, Jiu Jitsu or Strongman. When you strive to help others, they will pass that along as they grow, too.
Just like with some of our other stories, Lindsey wasn’t always unhealthy. It came in waves. We hit life hard, and life hits hard back. Just because you’re 20 and bulletproof and life hits you hard, it doesn’t mean that’s the only time you can be healthy. Keep getting up, as many times as it takes. But if you’re going to to do that, you have to do it like Lindsey. You can’t take short cuts or use cheat codes. The quickest, straightest, smartest path back to success is through hard work.
It doesn’t always take a sudden moment of clarity, being down in the dumps, or being struck with the right amount of resources at the right time. Sometimes it just takes Bryan.
What’s the secret to Kelsey’s success? It’s all been “staged.”
Not in the way you’re thinking about either. You see… Kelsey has made her passion about getting up on stage, allowing her transformation to take place in stages, and has allowed her success to be a stage for her faith to play out on.
Find your inspiration. Get in shape. Live a healthy life so you can live a long one with the ones you love, doing the things you love.
There are certain major events in our lives where there are only two outcomes: we fight… or we throw in the towel. Staying still, frozen in time, is not an option.
Sometimes, the answer is simple. Angry with life, discontent with the stalemate you’ve found yourself in, ready to level up? Lift. That’s what Sami did.
Sami recently turned 21, and now she knows her plan: go to school for cosmetology, work at a gym, be the best Bikini competitor she can be, bulk up, make the jump to Figure competitor.
But that’s now. Before, she was in a really bad spot in her life and stayed angry.
“I always found I was happier after I went for a run or a long bike ride, and once I tried lifting I felt amazing. Being able to take all that stress and anger out on the weights made a huge difference for me.”
So Sami got into lifting and started working at a gym. After a period of time had passed, she saw how much love she had for the sport and how much drive she was really capable of. So she decided to compete in order to give herself an active goal to work towards.
Having taken herself from inactivity, to lifting, to Bikini competitor, to aspiring Figure competitor, Sami says that the possibilities of competing don’t stop there.
“I’m contemplating dabbling with powerlifting in the future but am not decided on it yet.”
Taking control of your fitness is simple: if you’re stalling out, hit the gym. If that stalls out, expand your horizons. You don’t have to keep moving onto new arenas, but you do have to keep pushing yourself, otherwise even hitting the gym will eventually grow boring, too.
Jacob Summers (SuperSoldier) is a certified personal trainer, but not a medical expert in the field of nutrition.