"I grew up playing sports year round and was always active. I was a respectable athlete in my high school days but after destroying my knee playing basketball over 20 years ago I gradually lost interest in being physically active and working to better myself. Life got in the way and I slowly quit most of the teams I played on. I lived a very sedentary lifestyle with a lot of pain (beer league softball and the occasional flag football game being the exceptions, when I wasn't injured.) My slow, steady descent into bad habits and even worse fitness began to take hold. My physical condition degraded significantly.
I knew I was in trouble. You don't get to be 300+ lbs and not know it. You feel it everyday when you wake up, when your clothes keep getting tighter, when you have to hustle to catch the train and you're out of breath after a short flight of stairs. I did make sincere effort at change over the years. But being my size and having an arthritic knee that was diagnosed for replacement did not yield a winning strategy for an active, healthy lifestyle. I was caught in an awful cycle of working out hard, getting my nutrition in line, then inevitably getting hurt or not being able maintain intensity for longer than a month or so. 10+ years of incremental progress, followed by long slides back to where I began, or even worse than where I began. 10+ years of being over 300 lbs and seeing friends in better shape than me have heart attacks or get diagnosed with diabetes. I knew I had to make changes.
Being active and working out has always been the key for me. When I am putting in work, my body demands better quality food and it's much easier to make better choices. My level of effort drives my nutrition and it's no secret that nutrition is every bit as important as exercise to staying healthy, if not more so. I needed to find a program that would allow me to maintain consistency and not get injured, while also pushing me and building strength in my weakest areas. Despite the negative stories I had heard about the dangers of Crossfit, especially for someone in my condition, I threw caution to the wind and decided to put "infinitely scalable" to the test.
My first visit to CF630 was humbling to say the least. Many days since then have been humbling as well. But in the 4 1/2 months since I began, I've realized that my inner athlete is still in there and is ready to burst out. My progress has exceeded my greatest expectations and I've had my most consistent stretch of working out in over 20 years. By every measure I am a healthier person than I was when I first walked in. I've lost over 40 lbs on the scale so far, but have gained so much more. The external changes are noticeable for sure, but they are only a fraction of the change I feel on the inside. Simply saying "I feel better" doesn't quite do it justice. I have so much more energy now. I spend less time on the couch watching TV and more time playing with my kids. My knee replacement has been put on hold. I actually look forward to coming into the gym and working out. And the best part is that I know I've just begun - I have so much more progress to make.
It's clear to me now that I was missing two important factors in my years of wandering the fitness desert:
1) Proper coaching - to ensure I am doing to movements correctly and scaled when necessary (e.g. ALL THE TIME) and programming that works my whole body. My weaknesses are exposed on a daily basis and working on those instead of just my strengths is having a profound effect on my body. Nate and the rest of the coaches are quick to offer form corrections or weight adjustments if I'm at risk of exceeding my capabilities. This has been vital to staying healthy and pushing myself to the limit, but not over it.
2) A team! I never realized how much I missed the camaraderie of working out/playing in a team environment. Working out at CF630 is like playing on a team where you compete against yourself every day.
I'm not very outgoing and I've never been comfortable in a group exercise setting. I always preferred to work out alone. But, from day one, every single person I've met at CF630 has been so supportive and encouraging. They don't value how much you can lift or how fast you completed a workout. They value how much effort you put out every time you're there. Everyone in the box that I work out with is responsible for my success in some way, especially the 8:30 crew. They push me to work harder. They support me and help coach me. They even help clean up for me when I can't peel myself off the floor after a hard workout. It's incredibly motivating to see everyone working so hard day in and day out and I don't want to let them down. I want them to know that I am working as hard as I can and that the effort and support they give me is deserved. I look forward to working out with them and I don't think I've missed one since I began - that is a tremendous feat for me.
My entire mindset (and my life!) has changed for the better in just 4 short months. I'm on a path that would not have existed for me a short time ago. I even signed up for my first fitness competition, which just sounds ridiculous to me. Yet, here I am. My only regret is that I didn't find this sooner. I can only imagine how much progress I would have made if I found this earlier. I can't wait to see what another 4 months at CF630 brings me. And though I continue to be amazed at some of the feats the athletes and coaches accomplish on a daily basis all I can say is, look out, because I'm coming right behind you!"
Joe's story is so inspirational and one that makes what we do as a gym and community so rewarding. This is exactly why we do this. Having a positive impact on people's lives is the best.
Since coming into CF630, Joe has impressed us with not only his strength but his willingness to commit to fitness. He's made some tremendous progress so far and it's only the beginning. I'm excited to see where his journey to a continued healthy life goes. Joe's off to a great start and the sky's the limit.