I’m honored to be selected at as the Athlete/Coach for the month. As you know I have the nickname “LT” but, many of you may not know why. I’m a firefighter/paramedic for the City of Winter Garden. “LT” is for the Rank I hold at the Fire Department. I up and moved to WG in 2003 to get out of the cold and snow in Upstate, NY. I was hired by Winter Garden FD in 2004.
I’m a member of the Air National Guard (1-weekend a month and 2-weeks a year) and will be retiring after 26-years of service in July. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Kaplan University in Fire Science and an Applied Science Degree in Emergency Medical Service from Valencia College. I’ve always been an active person. I played sports in high school and maintained my fitness over the years by going to Gold’s Gym, Lifestyle’s Fitness, LA Fitness, and many more fitness centers. In 2006, I had an opportunity to become a Peer Fitness Trainer for the Fire Department through the American Council on Exercise. This involves occupational and functional fitness pertaining to firefighters.
In 2007, my sister and I moved my aging/ailing parents to FL and pretty much became full-time caregivers. My fitness was put on the back burner for many years. I battled depression seeing my mom decline in front of me and I emotionally became numb to all things around me.
In 2013, I started hearing some of my coworkers talk about “CrossFit” and “WODS”. I listened but, did my own research. I needed to try something new. My lack of interest in fitness, exhaustion with eldercare, and poor choices lead to me being 215 pounds. I went on the Web and found CrossFit West Orange.
CFWO had advertised 1-free class to check it out. I e-mailed the “contact us” person from their website and scheduled a class. I don’t remember the exact date but, I know it was an 8:30 a.m. class. I felt so welcomed when I arrived by Barry Tallis and I just felt a sense of support. There was no pressure. I wasn’t sure what to expect because I never did any CrossFit. I was a 40-year old man that was out of shape and didn’t know a person in the place. It was a little intimidating. The class was structured and organized, and I didn’t know the movements or terminology. I had never done an Olympic style lift.
I got through my first WOD and realized how out of shape I was. I knew that this challenging style of working out and the positive encouragements by those who finished the WOD before me was the boost I need to get back to the old me. I signed up for the month to month membership.
So, I began CrossFitting. I was at the 08:30 class every day I wasn’t at the Fire Station. I even went on Saturday’s because it was such a fun partner-style WOD. I got to know more of the members. Barry always made it fun and constantly changed things up.
Then came the spring/summer of 2014. A new family from out of State started CrossFitting at 08:30. My class? Really! Who are these 3 kids and the married couple? I met the Ferlmanns. Tif, Tom, Abby, Iain, and Alec. We became friends. We became family.
I didn’t know these people and they didn’t know me. But over the course of a few months, we sweated together, we laughed together, we supported each other. I had weaknesses and I had strengths. And they did as well. I woke up each day and looked forward to going to the box. My new friends were going to be there. I knew I was going to get my butt kicked. It was OK. I was up for the challenge. I knew everyone at the box would support me until the last Rep. It didn’t matter if it was Rx, Scaled, Modified, or something completely different. I had support and I gave it back. For that hour, it was about getting physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy. I was hooked on CrossFit.
Late in 2014 and early in 2015 we often would get substitute coaches from out of the area. Many were awesome and did great jobs but, they weren’t from within. I often saw the numbers drop off if we had a sub. In my military and fire department world, substitutes come from within. I felt I wanted to step up and give back to the box by filling in when needed. I didn’t want any compensation. I just wanted to give back. Heck, I was getting a firefighter / military discount so, it was just another way to give back.
I started doing a little research about becoming a CrossFit coach. The price was a little scary but, I really wanted to learn more about CrossFit. I knew I was progressing, even in my 40s but, I needed to learn more. I wanted to learn as much as I could about the lifts, movements, and what makes CrossFit tick. So, in July 2015, I became CrossFit Level-I certified. It was an awesome class and opportunity.
I begin the filling-in on occasion. I had fun and felt a sense of giving back as well. It was a Saturday when I met “Will”. Barry had partnered us up for a WOD and we kicked it. I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me but, we worked together and had fun. When the WOD was finished, Barry said his schedule had become so full that he was stepping aside. He introduced “Coach B.” as the new full-time Coach of CFWO.
It wasn’t long after that we became CrossFit Iron Shamrock and the Ferlmanns took the reins. Momma T. asked me to share my biggest aha moment with you. First, I’d have to say it was realizing by your feedback that I can have an impact on each and every one of you as much as you have made an impact on me.
Secondly, strangers who have a common interest in maintaining a healthy lifestyle can become a powerful community. They have birthday parties for each other, they invite you to their house, they raise money for notable/charitable causes, they participate in community events, they go on social/fun outings, they volunteer in the area, they play games, do obstacle races, run 5K’s, they go to dinner, they think of each other and share shenanigans, and much much more.