Many people ask each other how can cross-fit change my life? Or how did it change yours? Why did you choose crossfit over conventional fitness like strictly running, or doing more body builder isolated muscle routines? I am going to tell you my experience with CrossFit and how it is apart of me today. I can honestly say that Cross-Fit has saved my life on more than one occasion. As many of you at the gym know I am a Marine Corps Scout Sniper. It was there in the sniper school and in the sniper platoon that I was exposed to high intensity cross-fit workouts. I would have called them more of glorified hazing sessions but none the less the pain I was put through retained the knowledge that was necessary to keep my fellow team mates and myself alive during combat operations. I still did your basic globo gym workouts and ran because its what everyone did but there was something about the high I got from a cross-fit workout that lured me into it further and further. I wanted to see how deep the rabbit hole went I guess you could put it.
Crossfit became an everyday part of my life in Afghanistan it was really the only thing I could do to stay in shape. Of course there were no barbells, kettlebells, or dumbells because as a Scout sniper you didn’t have the luxury of staying at a nice base where those were available. But we adapted and used sandbags tied to branches, ammo cans, ruck sacks, sapi plates, you name it if it was heavy we would find a way to clean it or squat it. A lot of things happened in Afghanistan that changed me. Friends were lost, or injured, mistakes were made the list goes on… The point is I am a person who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. No I am not crazy I hate that its called a disorder. I wont try to kill you in your sleep,and I don’t have flashbacks where I am back there trying to kill the enemy those are extreme cases. I cant have a day go buy that I don’t dwell on what happened there or why I am here and others aren’t. As many of you know im a bit of a recluse when it comes to social interactions but I am improving on it. I have what some call a very jaded point of view of the world, but its because I have been and seen the worst in people. When I got back from Afghanistan I thought I could hide myself in a bottle of sailor jerry’s rum and the superficial company of a woman. I partied every-night, I was depressed, stressed out to the max, and therapy didn’t help. talking about what happened during my stint in the Marine Corps only made me more angry, depressed, and fed up.
I had a snap to moment at some point and moved out to New Mexico to change my life and pull my head out of my ass. I had seen what PTSD unresolved does to a person when self medicated with destruction in the form of a bottle. I started doing cross-fit when I moved here and noticed that I was less and less stressed, my mood improved and my quality of life increased tremendously. I did the 30 day paleo challenge and didn’t have a drink the entire time it was very uplifting to see how happy I could be again. I was so happy with my results that I wanted to show the rest of the world that they could change their life too! So what did I do? I got my level 1 certification and became a coach. Watching other people take control of their lives and change it was one of the most inspiring things for me to see. It pushed me harder as an athlete because I saw what people were doing and how much they were suffering but they never gave up during the workout and said F*** it im done. I take that approach now in my life I have made it not only my attitude in a work out but I have made it my attitude in every tough decision I make. The only thing that saves me everyday is pouring my heart and soul into a workout. I go into the gym and nothing else matters. I hear 3,2,1 go and I drift off in a zone. I cant describe where I go mentally but its very blissful, I get gratification from suffering through the workout. Its a definite sense of euphoria for me and it has been the best medication for my “Disorder”. I can have a day that’s filled with stress and I don’t think im going to make it another minute without snapping but after a hardcore workout im as chill as a cucumber. I am happy and continue to get satisfaction from those who are willing to give it everything they have day in and day out. I don’t talk much I know that so this is my way of reaching out to the members and coaches at our gym and saying thank you for saving my life everyday and giving it meaning and fufillment . You all give me something to look forward to. Keep training hard, and chip away at those goals. Make weaknesses strengths, tackle the improbable or the seemingly impossible look it in the eyes and say I did it. No one else made me do it, I set forth and accomplished something great. Use this not only in workouts but in your everyday lives. Just remember ” Don’t be no cloud on a sunny day”.
Well said, Mr. Bales, well said…
AJ, that’s an inspiring story. Thank you for pushing me and helping me push myself.
As I read Aj’s story, many blogs, and listen to some conversations around the gym, I continue to be more empowered and greatful for the community we have at our CABQ box! With the highs and lows that come with the physical and mental components of each workout, one thing stays the same, all the members and coaches push each other to the next level. Thank you for that. It’s an eye opener on how much everyone experiences (good or bad) through their everyday life’s, but we all still manage to go to the gym when we can. At that point, we put our lives aside for awhile to support our CABQ family members and push each other through the pain to finish the wod to our best ability. Thank you Aj for sharing your story and thank you to all the members and coaches for the support you put forth each day. 🙂
I really admire you for your willingness to share this with everyone. I have a hard time putting things into words at times also, so I can really appreciate this. You are an amazing athlete, coach, and friend and we are all damn lucky to have you around. You are an inspiration to me and many others as well. Thanks for everything amigo.
Thank you, AJ.
Thank you for that. You know, I’m grateful for everyday that goes by that I’m a part of such a great group at our box. I look forward to our workouts even single day, no matter the length or pain I’ll go through because I know there’ll be a bunch of people rooting each other on along the way. It’s great to finally find a group that is so determined, inspiring and overall positive. Again, thank you Aj and thank you everyone at CFABQ.
I know that you didn’t write this with the intention of people telling you that you are amazing so I won’t go there. I will, however, say that I understand what it is like to have crossfit be the only thing that can silence the demons of your past. I’m glad to hear that someone else finds the bliss of shutting off your mind and simply feeling. Thank you for being strong enough to share this with all of us.
Often times we don’t know what people’s lives are like outside of the box, but once inside the box it’s almost peaceful to know that we are all on common ground. We are all experiencing the same WOD and for that moment in time we are all suffering from the same pain, regardless of what occurs in our separate everyday lives. Thanks for sharing your story AJ.
Well put Bales. Thanks for sharing your story, that takes guts. Also, you’re a beast.
Well said brutha, Thank-You AJ.