FRN2: Rebels in Wonderland
National – To join the “on your own” version of the 18th Rebel challenge where you will have custom rebel workouts e-mailed to you (among other things such as nutritional, stretching, and resistance training guidance), do the fit tests and weigh-ins on your own, receive a custom Rebel shirt, & participate in the “Rebel Trekkers” mini-challenge while being warmly welcome into our private Rebel Facebook community support group… CLICK HERE
Local (Santa Rosa, CA) – To join the “real thing” boot camp experience where you will receive your FRN starter packet/goodies at the orientation workout on July 11th (fit test/measurements July 6th-9th), meet twice a week in the Rebel room for original Rebel workouts led by yours truly (including themed workouts such as “black light” and “Dress like Josh,” “Decade Triple Trip” and more!), receive your custom Rebel shirt in person, experience the sound off & Rebel chant firsthand, be personally weighed, measured, and kept track of by me, and have a front row seat to the end of challenge wrap party, slideshow, and awards ceremony… CLICK HERE
Fitness Rebel Nation
The past 6 years have brought with it an illustrious history when it comes to the Fitness Rebellion and the transformation challenges (you can listen to, watch, and read all about it here, here, and here). We’ve lost a LOT of weight, inches, and sweat over the years but way more important has been the health gained, fitness conquered, happiness achieved, unforgettable memories made, and money for charity we’ve raised! Throughout all the incredible journeys the Fitness Rebellion has been on we’ve rocked, rolled, and kicked some major ass through many amazing adventures all in the name of health and harmony… and it’s time for a new one…
For the 1st time ever the upcoming Rebel challenge is going NATIONWIDE! No matter where you are at you will be able to participate in the upcoming 3 month challenge we are about to embark upon beginning FEBRUARY 15TH! The goal of this challenge will be to push ourselves a healthier place, support one another in the process, do epic things, and have a great time throughout. It’s about more than just taking your body back… it’s about taking your hear and soul back too! If you watch this video you’ll experience exactly what I’m talking about…
(paid via online invoice sent to you payable from the convenience of your own home!)
Duration: February 15th – May 16th (3 months)
How will you be participating with us at “home base?”: Timing wise we will all essentially be doing our fit test, weigh-ins, and workouts together. Even though you can’t be here with us working out in the Rebel room the workouts you receive each week will coincide with the workouts we do here in Santa Rosa. There will be video and photo projects you’ll be able to participate for some new Rebel video inspiration! You will be up for Nationwide Rebel Awards such as the “Inspiration Nation MVH” award, the “Ultimate Shoveler” award, and more to be announced at the Rebel wrap party here at home base! The “Rebel Trekkers” challenge will be for home base and nationwide participants only and will be a mileage covering quest with 3 different difficulty levels that you can choose from. You will also be included in our home base facebook group that normally is only for Santa Rosa (and surrounding area) Rebels… Now you get to hop in the community with us and be greeted and treated like a rockstar!
- Fit Test (w/ optional circumference measurement sheet)
- Stretching Guide
- Nutrition Packet
- Resistance Training Guide
- 2 Original Rebel Workouts e-mailed to you each week complete with instructional photos and video database (which you can keep and utilize forever!)
- Custom Rebel Shirt (among other goodies!)
- Access to the private “Fitness Rebel Nation” Facebook group in which only “home base” and countrywide FNR participants are in. This is our Rebel community support group.
- Weekly accountability complete with weigh-in system
- Inclusion in the 1st ever “Rebel Trekkers” Challenge
- Inclusion in the “end of challenge” wrap party award ceremony!
Interest in joining? Then all you’ve got to do is fill out the form below and I’ll have all the information I need to send you the invoice via e-mail, order your shirt, and organize you into my Rebel database so I can keep you posted on the next steps in this process as they come (including lots more information about the above stuff I hope has you so pumped up you want to jump up!)
Welcome to the Fitness Rebellion!
World’s Toughest Mudder
My name is Josh Cox and recently I competed in the 4th Annual World’s Toughest Mudder; a 24 hour endurance event where you complete as many 5 mile laps as you can while traversing 20+ of the hardest obstacles Tough Mudder has to offer. If you’re unfamiliar with my background here is a short 5 minute video put together by Anytime Fitness from when I was recognized as one of 4 success stories in 2012. Through my 6+ years with Anytime Fitness I’ve had some unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and this will forever be up there with some of the best of them. “When was the last time you did something for the first time” was the quote Sean Corvelle, Tough Mudder MC extraordinaire, opened up with and it was made clear in that moment that the answer was November 15th, 2014.
As I sit down to write this about 4 weeks have come and gone since the culmination of World’s Toughest Mudder. During that time I’ve done a whole helluva lot of reflecting on it yet haven’t really been ready to jot it all down until now. Let’s start here:
World’s Toughest Mudder 2014 was beyond a mouse fart of a doubt the most challenging thing I’ve ever chosen to do in my entire life.
I know I still have a lot of life left to live but I also pride myself on being a firm advocate of stepping outside of your comfort zone and boy… let me tell you… If California is my comfort zone then Las Vegas might as well have been goddamn Australia. *Writer’s Note* For you Aussies reading this who competed… Your entire life in my imagination is a World’s Toughest Mudder *End Writer’s Note*
The second thing I want to address is that this wouldn’t have happened without the best of friends by my side. It was Fitness Rebels who got together and took care of my ticket. I got to run it with Super Rebel Paul Trujillo and the amazing Jacqualyn Evans. I had the best training partner and friend I could possibly ask for in Rebel hero Justin Zuiderweg. His better half Maggie Schuck, along with Tami Tuminello, Sean Barnett, and MY better half Cara “Unicorn” Jones made up our “World’s Toughest Pit Crew.” They were there for the setup, duration, and breakdown of the entire shindig and selflessly tended to every need we had. Shoot, Tami literally held down the fort during the sandstorm! As for Cara, she was my rock through this whole thing encouraging me every step of the way. Whether it was pushing me on the days I didn’t want to train, working with me to make sure I had the proper gear, or listening to me blather on and on and on about this whole mess… she was my Unicorn pillar throughout it all. Thank you Cara! Thank you everyone!!
The nuttiness of this event made it to “The Chive” and as a Chiver it was pretty rad going through the photo set of something that *I* was a part of. Real talk; I thought I had a better chance at discovering type III diabetes the hard way before I ever pictured myself doing something this insane… The part that I keep going back to in my mastiff-sized head (seriously… size 8 in fitted hits… no foolin’) is that this is exactly how I felt upon signing up for and competing in my very first Tough Mudder back in 2011 (Tahoe). Chance would have it that this was also how I felt upon registering for my 1st 8k trail run with Cara. Also, My 1st Body Building competition. And then my 2nd… and then my 3rd… My 1st Spartan beast. My 1st 200 Mile relay!
That’s just the small stuff though comparatively… I felt the SAME WAY when I joined my 1st gym at 14 years old with the greatest Mom ever, mine (she has the coffee mug to prove it), as the co-signer. The 1st time I ventured off the Reebok cycler and tested the free weights out. The 1st protein jug I ever bought and the DEFINITE muscle that was waiting for me at the bottom of that strawberry/vomit flavored Nitrotech barrel (spoiler alert: it wasn’t). The 1st pair of 32 inch waist jeans I ever bought and THEN the terrifying 1st time I ever wore them out. The 1st time I could fit my thumb and middle finger around my wrist! The 1st time I wore a shirt and noticed my stomach wasn’t what stuck out the farthest! The 1st pull-up I ever accomplished. The 1st push-up I ever completed. The 1st time I ran a mile the whole way through without stopping. My 1st personal training consultation, my 1st client, my 1st group class….
The point I’m driving at is that it was all a staircase of progression. I’ve long since connected the fact that making the ballsy decision to step into the gym for the 1st time and actually do something about my health was literally the horrifying equivalent of how it felt standing at the start line ready to endure whatever the next 24 hours of hell had to offer this past November 15th.
Without that progression I never would have known what that next step was. I mean, think about it… A toddler doesn’t know what it’s like to crawl… until it does. Crawling leads to walking, which leads to running, which leads to jumping, which leads to, you know… A lot of other advanced movements once motor skills develop and stuff… I don’t know, I’m not a Doctor! In any case I learned that stepping into the gym was my “crawl.” Attempting machines I’d only watched curiously from afar was my “walking.” I started “running” when I signed up for my first body building competition which then led to “advanced movements” like 200 mile relays, countless obstacle course races, a Fitness Rebellion, guest speaking around the country, a couple of small television appearances, published writings on my experiences, and so much more that I’ll forever be thankful I was able to struggle through and cherish in my lifetime. You don’t just have epic shit fall ino your lap… You’ve gotta dig for it!
I want to talk for a second about how ridiculously nuts-in-throat terror stricken heights make me. I can’t look down a 3 story window without my crotch-seam tingling like a useless “spidey sense” reminding me to appreciate solid ground. When it comes roller coasters I’m oddly fine with them but anything involving a ledge sends me over the edge.
Even writing “over the edge” gave me the jeebies. Ugh.
In the weeks leading up to this torture fiesta, Tough Mudder had been dangling their newest obstacle “The Cliff” in front of our faces comparable to the way the bad guy in James Bond movies will dangle meat over the laser sharks or whatever they’re threatening 007 with by showing him how hungry they are. Some people took the “animal” approach and were chomping at the bit to experience the nearly 40 foot plunge like it was their birthday and it was the best present ever. Me? I was the sheepish dude in the background quietly saying “… um… guys… are you sure this is such a good idea?”
As November 15th rapidly approached I found myself honestly losing sleep over it yet trying to brush it off like it was something else stressing me out. I did the typical man thing and shrugged it off in an attempt to legitimately feel that way only no matter how hard I tried that just wasn’t going to be the case. My standing line was “I’m just taking the approach I take with all Tough Mudders and just doing it.”
Within my percolated anxiety I made the promise to myself that I was doing it no matter what and on top of that I wasn’t going to waste any time dicking around about it. They say jump, I was jumping. Simple as that. I swore to myself every single day that that was how I was going to do it.
Well wouldn’t you know it… They made that bastard the very last obstacle before finishing your lap so that meant I had PLENTY of time to think about it while traversing the desert course. This one obstacle was my championship and that was something I quietly kept to myself as we steamrolled our way towards this Tom Petty inspiration (read: “Free Fallin'”). By the time we got there it was EXACTLY the nightmare I was anticipating. You know how sometimes you exaggerate situations and by the time they actually happen you’re like “whew, that wasn’t so bad…” with a big ol’ grin on your face and sweet sweet relief in your soul? Yeah, that didn’t happen here.
As Super Rebel Paul Trujillo and I waited in line he’s all kinds of pumped like a 3 year old overdosing on a pixie stick. My silence causes him to pause and say “You really don’t like heights do you?” Upon his inquiry I slowly lifted my head, squinted through the sun beams as I sized up his chiseled features, took in a deep breathe, and spilled my heart out through the song of words on exactly how I felt;
We near closer and I’m the next person up. My promise to myself to jump when they say and not even think about it has become my mantra as I’m pretty sure I have no more air in my lungs nor hair on my chest (all 3 of them fell off from all the trembling). As I step to the edge I can’t even bring myself to look at the water at ALL. I’m talking eyes straight on to the horizon because if I look down, it’s absolutely over. At this point there could have been a pit full of junkyard cars and scrapped IKEA pieces and I never would have known. I felt like a lemming (the “Wild Wilderness” version).
There was no “it felt like an eternity before I was told to jump” moment of truth as I waited for this bullshit. The world did NOT regress to slow motion as I sat within some sort of twilight zone time lapse centrifuge much the way I was anticipating. Nope, homeboy said “jump” fucking immediately. I mean IMMEDIATELY. I wanted to be like “DO YOU KNOW HOW GODDAMN SCARED I AM HERE MAN?!?!” but all that came out was some sort of breathy high pitched squeal similar to the noise you make when you’re doing some heavy weight training and you’re on your last rep of your last set and you try to grunt but what comes out instead can only be described as an emasculating whimper/gurgle. You know, THAT noise.
And then I stepped off.
I stayed true to the promise I made to myself of being an efficient Ernie rather than a procrastinating Paul and I stepped the hell off like a BOSS. The best part was that there was sooooooooooooooo much time from top to bottom that I actually had a moment to be proud of myself before I hit the water! Seriously, you know when you step off a curb or some stairs and the ground isn’t where your foot is expecting so it jolts your system a bit? Imagine that only with your entire body.
And then, just like that… it was over. Other than greeting the water with more of my face than I had originally intended… I fucking did it! As I regained my composure and swam toward the cargo net to get out there were 2 thoughts running through my brain like a scrolling marquee. The 1st?
2nd thought? An overwhelming sense of relief that it was over. I was Atlas and finally the weight of the world was off my back. I was Steve Young (#8) after the ’94 Super Bowl… The monkey was gone! As I pulled myself out and took a moment to let it soak in I seriously couldn’t be more elated. There was a time in my life when something that intimidating would have stopped me dead in my tracks. No… My tracks wouldn’t have even gone in that direction. I was the kid that always inexplicably had a stomach ache every time we had to run the mile in PE. I was the kid that only went outside to help Mom bring the groceries in (which happened often since I ate for a family of 5 every day).
It wasn’t until the last few years I was able to reverse the fortune on my debilitating shin splints developed from carrying around so much weight as a young adult. I managed to stack the odds against myself pretty high growing up and digging out of the epic hole I’d put myself in only to find myself on top of that rock having just beaten “The Cliff” was surreal to say the least.
What I’m trying to share is that it’s up to YOU to take each step, no matter how painful and no matter how miserable. Nobody is going to hand you a damn thing nor is there a soul on this planet stopping you from being who you want to be… that’s just what you tell yourself. Taking on challenges and attempting things you’ve never done before is scary as all hell… but that’s the point. That’s where the growth is. That’s where the endorphin rush that lets you know you made the right decision is waiting for you! That’s where all the high points of your life are sitting just waiting to be plucked and once you reach out and grab them, the low points all of a sudden start to make sense… With each unnerving step you take in conquering your fears a new door to a new you is waiting. The beautiful part is that those steps, fears, aspirations, goals, and experiences are going to be completely different for everyone making for a pretty grand adventure! At the heart of it all is one extremely important fundamental that rings true no matter the circumstances however:
You’re not as strong as what you’ve done, you’re as strong as what you show up to. As long as you show up then I promise you… Your strength will be there.
Next week: World’s Toughest Mudder – Part 2 (Liberation)
Custom Rebel Shirt!
With the holidays coming up I thought I’d put out there that there’s pretty much nothing cooler in the world than a customized Rebel shirt!
*Spoiler alert: I’m slightly biased*
All you’ve got to do is fill out the form below and I’ll get it out to you as soon as possible! $20 even per shirt takes care of everything including shipping. Orders placed BEFORE December 11th are guaranteed to be there in time for the holidays! You can dream up whatever color scheme, theme, or motif you’d like and I’ll get it done for you! From classic movies to sports… inspirational quotes to music… Any words, sentences, or names you want on can be done too! You think it, I can do it… With my own Rebellious twist ;).
Payment is easy! With the preferred e-mail provided below I will send you a direct link payable from wherever you are! Although I use Paypal you do not need a Paypal account to pay :).
Greetings Rebels! As most of you know myself and Justin Zuiderweg are headed out to Las Vegas to compete in the 2014 World’s Toughest Mudder! Along with Rebel Paul Trujillo and Jacqualyn Evans we will have our professional Rebel entourage of Cara “Unicorn” Jones (I love you babe!), Maggie “Too Tough” Schuck, Tami “2 Guns” Tuminello, and Sean “Big Boss” Barnett.
While I’m gone Rebel leaders Lori DeMarco and Megan Gill will be peer leading the total body mud circuit workout you see below. Y’all know the drill by now there ain’t nothing to it but to do it!
You are going to set up the exercises below so that you can do each one with zero to minimal break in between. Do each exercise for 30 seconds until you’ve completed 5 total rounds! AHHHOOOO!!!!
To learn more about the shovel… CLICK HERE
RWRII Team Roster:
Monday/Wednesday (7pm & 6pm)
Michelle “Hulk” Huntley
Victoria “T-Bones” Nicolas
Megan “Ming” Gill
Tuesday/Thursday (7pm & 6pm)
Alyx J. Livingston
Monday @ 7pm/Wednesday @ 6pm & Tuesday @ 7pm/Thursday @ 6pm
Oct. 27th/28th – START! New Fit Test (prepare for a workout!) followed by mini-orientation
Oct. 29th/30th – Legs… Halloween themed! Wear an awesome costume or come decked in orange and black… As long as you bring all the spirit you’ve got!
Nov. 3rd/4th – Upper Body!
Nov. 5th/6th – Core! Also… SHIRT DAY! Be prepared to earn your custom made superhero uniform made just for you with a scream circle at the end of this core shred-fest!
Nov. 10th/11th – Red, White, and BOSU! In honor of Veteran’s day come in your best red, white, and blue attire as we work our way through an official BOSU balance class! This workout will also kick start the beginning of our food drive! Partnering with the Redwood Empire Food Bank we as a group we are going to collect as much food stuffs as possible until the November 21st where we conclude with a Turkey Boot Camp! Details below…
Nov. 12th – 18th – WORLD’S TOUGHEST MUDDER! Rebel hero Justin Zuiderweg and myself will be traveling with our better halves Maggie Schuck and Cara Unicorn Jones to Las Vegas for World’s Toughest Mudder, a 24 hour obstacle run full of fire, ice, and electricity. To accommodate travel and prep time needed for this hellacious adventure there will be no scheduled Rebel boot camps during these dates BUT you will still be receiving a brand new On Your Own (OYO) workout along with a “fitness scavenger hunt” you will be expected to complete instead! You’re a Rebel… Workout like it!
Nov. 19th/20th – Legs! Also The Unicorn and I’s 3 year anniversary is the 19th so if the mood strikes… feel free to come in your best Hulk and Unicorn gear! Happy grilled cheesing!
Nov. 21st (Saturday) @ 11AM – Turkey Boot Camp! The premise is simple… the cost of the boot camp is a turkey! That’s it! Bring as many as you want! The goal: 500 lbs of turkey for the community. AhhhOOO!!!!
Nov. 24th/25th – HIIT Test! The 1st half will be an authentic HIIT-X class followed by a round of exercises from the fit test… Bring your shovel!
Nov. 26th/27th – NO BOOT CAMP. Happy Thanksgiving!
Nov. 27th (Thanksgiving) @ 9AM – 3rd Annual Turkey Reb-Bowl! There’s nothing quite like football on Thanksgiving morning… especially when it’s with a bunch of great people keeping it fun and positive! Bring the whole family over to Sonoma Academy field (2500 Farmers Ln, down Kiwana Springs Rd) to this 2 hand touch football tradition. Can’t wait to see you there, Rebels!
Nov. 28th (Friday) @ 10AM – Black Friday Boot Camp! Shake off the Thanksgiving haze with a total body blast of a butt kicking boot camp! Everyone is welcome! There will be no Mud Circuit class this day but will return to the regular schedule the following Friday.
Dec. 1st/2nd – Core!
Dec. 3rd/4th – Upper Body!
Dec. 8th/9th – Legs… and Black Light 13.0! Come in your best whites and fluorescents as we light up the aerobic room a little bit differently than normal…
Dec. 10th/11th – Core!
Dec. 15th/16th – Upper Body!
Dec. 17th/18th – Legs!
Dec. 22nd/23rd – Total Body… and Tropical Holiday themed! Take the words “tropical holiday” and devise whatever crazy outfit you like! Feel free to add some Unicorn attire since December 22nd also happens to be Cara’s birthday!
Dec. 24th/25th – No Boot Camp. Merry Christmas!
Dec. 29th/30th – End Fit Tests!
Dec. 31st/January 1st – New Year Sparkle Workout! You are either going to be the last Rebel boot camp of 2014 or the 1st Rebel boot camp of 2015 so be prepared to bring it in with gusto! This is your chance to set the tone for the way you want the next year to go so take command of yourself and get after what you deserve! Let’s do it with as much sparkle, pizazz, panache, fabulosity, and sass as possible so come dressed in your flashiest duds and be ready to party!
January 3rd (Saturday) @ 11AM – GIANT GROUP WINTER WORKOUT AT THE PARK!! With some surprises in store for this boot camp there’s no better way to cap off a challenge and bring in the next 365 days than sweating together and working hard with phenomenal people. The goal: bring as many people as possible. The highest single Rebel workout attendance has been 75 people and it’s time to beat that. Let’s set a Rebel record with a bonfire of energy. A personalized gift and potential special guest appearance is going to make this one hell of kickstart to 2015 that you’re not gonna want to miss…
Address: 2379 Cedar Rock Ln Santa Rosa, CA 95404 (look for the field)
This will be a rain or shine workout so be prepared for whatever elements may be present. The workout will be safe for all ages and abilities in whatever weather we come across this day. Expect a mixture of fun group warm-ups, team oriented exercises, HIIT, and classic Rebel mainstays. Anticipate blocking out 90 minutes total for the full boot camp experience.
The Fitness Rebellion is home to every sort of character you can think of. If we were a co-ed boy band (which we kind of are… Click here… you know you want to…) we would have every spectrum covered. For those of you that know Justin Zuiderweg you know he fits the “loveable bad boy with a heart of gold” persona… only replace the brooding demeanor, disheveled hair, and sexy dance moves with super goofism, tough mudder headbands, and hashtags. Throw in a splash of sailor mouth and you’ve just baked yourself the ultimate beef flavored Justin cake (get it…. beef cake… TAAAAAHHHH!!!!).
If you don’t know Justin but have been keeping up with my Rebel Ramblings on the mind numbing task of getting prepared for World’s Toughest Mudder then you’ve heard about him plenty. He’s not only my partner in crime in the endeavor but the one I’m counting on to drag my scrappy ass across the finish line (don’t tell him that though… as of now he thinks he’s just training hard to get himself across the finish line… foolish man…).
A great friend, training partner, Rebel cohort, and all around amazing soul Justin embodies the Fitness Rebellion at its core in my eyes. With a story I knew about as well as a half crafted quilt I was eager to put the rest of the picture together and learn more about the man that has shed blood, sweat, and tears with and within the Rebellion the last couple of years. The opportunity arose the weekend of September 7th, 2014 as we drove back from our 3rd (and most brutal by far) World’s Toughest Beach Workout. As we settled into our 40 minute car ride I took out my “Hulk” journal, purple Anytime Fitness pen, and started our recollection the same way I start every interview;
“So Justin… What’s the story you want to tell?”
He paused only briefly as I had asked him the same questions before we started our workout so he had 2 hours to think about it.
“Things weren’t crazy at all really growing up…” he started.
“I was born in San Francisco, raised in Santa Rosa off West 3rd until my parents sold their house and built a home in Spring Valley up in Lake County. It was the typical set up, you know? Into sports, church, family get-togethers… Average American family type stuff. Nothing glamorous or anything like that.”
He squinted as he drove along.
“For me though, I was a trouble maker… I was always getting into some sort of mischief and was a stereotypical problem kid. Not really sure why, I just had a habit of mouthing off to everyone. I didn’t really have respect for anybody and ended up getting suspended a lot… all stupid stuff really, nothing worth it. I was almost expelled in 8th grade.”
“From what?” I asked.
“Just getting suspended too many times. Like I said, stupid shit. Nothing big… I just had a problem with everybody. If I hadn’t gotten home schooled for 8th grade I wouldn’t have graduated Junior High. It wasn’t long after that I started getting into drugs which only made things worse as I’m sure you can imagine.”
“How old were you?” I asked with my head bent as I battled the bumps in the road to get it all down.
“15. That was when I started smoking pot at least. Weed for me was definitely my gateway. My attitude just got worse as high school went on. By 17 I was getting heavy into drinking. I’d steal my Dad’s booze from the cabinet and one day he comes up to me and asked ‘You been taking alcohol from the cabinet?‘” He smiled as he reminisced.
“‘No… why?‘ I said even though I was lying my ass off. ‘Because see that line on the back of the bottle I drew? Good job filling it back up with water but you filled it up too much dummy.”
“Whatever, I was young, dumb, and stubborn… I was gonna do what I wanted.” Justin stated.
Which is what led to him moving out on his own at 18 to Santa Rosa, CA. Not too far from his parent’s home… but far enough. Justin has an almost mythical work ethic which assured him not running into the typical financial problems a lot of us face when we first venture out. After all he’d been holding down at minimum 2 jobs since 15 years old so finding work wouldn’t be an issue. No… The issue, although he didn’t know it, would be the people met along the way and the spiral affect they’d have on Justin’s soon-to-be kamikaze mindset.
With new found freedom combined with an 18 year old rebellious attitude it wasn’t long before he started going off the rails. Er… ather, doing rails… Cocaine and speed became routine leaving Justin swimming constantly in between seas of highs and lows. He took trying to “even things out” to the extreme. Too high strung? That’s what weed and alcohol is for! Need a pick-me-up? That’s what coke and speed is for! Never quite knowing how to just sit still and deal, his brain was constantly racing from one thing to the next in an attempt to take his mind off reality even though it led to a daily destruction derby and treating his body like a dumpster.
“I had a lot of shit swirling around in my head that I wasn’t mature enough face head on and figure out. I didn’t care about myself at all and finding an escape became a constant theme for me and stayed that way for a lot of years… Most of my life.”
By the age of 19 Justin found himself riding his youthful invincibility straight into marriage. Young love and the desire to be a little more responsible did little to shed light on his self destructive ways and the demons he was battling however. A licensed big rig driver and closet tech junkie meant that along with the overflow of nonstop bills and spousal duties Justin constantly had his hands full, which only exacerbated his lack of getting a handle on himself. Throw in the drinking, drugs, and hard living and you’ve got yourself the perfect recipe for disaster if I’ve ever seen one (and trust me, I’ve cooked up my fair share of disasters). Justin was sadly too clouded to ever begin the self reflective process long enough to figure out what was truly wrong with him and why he cared so little about himself.
What made this all the more ironic is Justin is the type of guy that would give you the shirt off his back if you needed one then go home and bring you a few more so you have extra for next time. His dirty sailor mouth is matched only by his heart of gold and pension for taking care of all of those around him, so why not himself? I know a lot of people who relate to that one…
As time went on and Justin got older he seemingly got a handle on things.
“I dabbled in ‘substances’ when I needed to ‘disappear‘ but had work to worry about too. I was always worried about something, bro.”
It was at the age of 27 on October 13th, 2005 that Justin’s entire world changed. It was this day that Trent, whom Justin affectionately refers to as “Spongebob,” was born. A new focus. A new heart to cherish. A new love.
It would be neat if that meant that everything became crystal clear as rays of sunshiney realization burst through the haze and infiltrated Justin’s brain like a less intense version of the movie “Alien” but… no. A major turning point in one direction usually causes a swing in another, such was the case with his marriage… After 10 years of making it work their relationship had run its course and at 29 Justin found himself freshly divorced.
This was the domino that sent all the others toppling down.
“I couldn’t handle the heartbreak and stress of it all and got on the fast track to seriously killing myself. I didn’t know it then, but that’s what I was doing…”
The scary part is that you never would have known. Good job? Check. Beautiful healthy son? Check. Friends? Check… even though a few of them needed to get kicked to the curb… Nonetheless a dark spiral turned darker daily as he succumbed to any and every drug he could get his hands on. He’d play the role of dutiful father, good friend, and diligent employee when needed but once he was alone he’d chip away at himself drink by drink, pill by pill, pipe by pipe… and with vigor. An enthusiasm for misery. A thirst for behavior so toxic he could drown in it.
It’s in these darkest of moments when even the tiniest bit of light can shatter the blackness and refurbish your will. For Justin, his light came from the strike of a lighter on a crack pipe.
6 months after his divorce Justin was sitting on couch in his apartment by himself. He’d been drinking heavily, throwing pain pills back like candy, doing blow, and smoking weed all day because… what else was there to do? The only thing missing in this fiesta was something Justin had only recently decided to add to his depression weapons… Crack. Even though he had plenty of friends who raved about it Justin never wanted to be “that guy.” No one ever gets up in the morning and says “I think I’m going to make the transition into crackhead today!”
Yet here he was.
“I could see the big deal about it” he said. “It hits you like a rush but that didn’t last long for me… I had a breakdown instead.”
Justin went on to describe the reality of the situation hitting him like a tornado full of bricks and twice as heavy. Somewhere within the murk of the drinking and drug cloud he was swimming in came clarity… Trent. Shining like a lighthouse his self abuse illuminated his relationship with his little boy and everything it should have been… but wasn’t. He wasn’t being the father he should or could be and was knocking on hell’s door like a cop with a warrant in the process. He was literally destroying himself when he was alone but somehow couldn’t find a care about it until now… A tidal wave of awareness brought with it streams of tears as Justin had hit his rock bottom and knew it.
I asked him what he thought made that day different.
“I guess it was just time for the light to turn on.”
When Justin puts his mind to something… it gets DONE. It only took a drug induced slap in the face for him to realize that caring about himself IS caring for those he loves most. It’s impossible to love others properly without loving yourself and with this newfound epiphany Justin sought after becoming a better father, son, brother, friend, and overall person like a pitbull on a pork-chop. He got rid of all the “bad friend” contacts that weren’t serving him. At the urging and support of his sister and brother-in-law he joined a gym and got into running! Cutting out all substance abuse and keeping to drinking socially Justin steadily started taking control and gaining confidence… Something he hadn’t experienced in quite some time.
I asked him what made this different than past futile attempts at taking his mind and body back;
“This was something I’d never done before. I’d never taken care of my demons and faced them head on, I’d only ever run from them and used them as crutches. I wasn’t used to it… but once I started getting used to it and cut out all the bad shit I knew this was the path I was supposed to be on. Working on yourself takes time but it’s worth it.”
Coincidentally enough it was at the gym in 2011 where Justin met Maggie. He was already on a treadmill when Maggie hopped on one right next to him. Describing the moment he met her as “the longest I’ve ever been on a treadmill in my life” the two hit it off big time.
Also in a moment of complete serendipity Maggie was the one to introduce Justin to the Fitness Rebellion. Maggie has been a part of Hulk/Rebel since the very beginning and we were stoked to meet the new fella! Boy… he sure didn’t disappoint! Between Trent, Maggie (and her wonderful little ones Lily and Lucas), his career, healthy friendships, and the Fitness Rebellion Justin has been kept grounded, blessed, and humble.
“I’m pushing GOOD limits now which is something I’m still getting used to. 5 years ago if you had told me I’d be doing the stuff I’m doing with the people I’m doing it with now I’d have laughed in your face and called you crazy.”
In the last couple years Justin has run 11 Tough Mudders, 3 Spartan Races, countless “fun runs,” The T25 and “Insanity” programs, 3 Rebel challenges, and inspired countless people in the process with his endearing passion for social media. His love for baseball has been passed down to Trent whom he’s now coaching when he’s not driving freight or training for World’s Toughest Mudder. Recently he got to combine the two:
As we pulled up to my house. I asked Justin if he had anything he wanted to add and he says “yeah, I want to add something for anybody thinking about joining Rebel or anything else that might be the change they need.”
I couldn’t wait to hear what he had to say. He did not disappoint.
“If you’re trying to talk yourself into doing something hard, outside your comfort zone… then do it. Sure something like a 60 minute workout sounds impossible when it’s not a regular part of your life but you need to give yourself a chance! Sometimes that’s all you need… just one chance… That chance can be where you find yourself. In the end it’s always worth it.”
Amen, my man…
This summer brought with it more amazing adventures than you can shake a stick at (you know… the universal yard marker for there being a lot of something). In 3 short months we experienced:
- The 1st ever outdoor orientation workout
- The return of our food group “The Rebel-Yum”
- The 1st annual Rebel Run in which we raised $3,000 for TLC Family Services
- Special guest Super Rebel Paul Trujillo
- Rebel yoga in the park
- Return of the Rebel Softball team
- Our gym family’s own Erik & Jackie’s marriage
- Tough Mudder in Tahoe with our largest Rebel group yet
- The annual Anytime Fitness Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona
That’s not including all of the individual accomplishments, monumental firsts, tough lessons learned, and inspiration shared on a daily basis by everyone who participated in the 16th Rebel Transformation Challenge.
This slideshow follows the tradition started at the end of the 4th challenge years ago in which at the wrap party we celebrate in full force culminating in remembrance of the great 90 days we just got done experiencing together. If your curious about the Fitness Rebellion… This is it. Check it out!
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A while back I asked all the fitness rebels to ANONYMOUSLY write 2 things down on 2 separate cards:
1) What’s the number one thing that holds you back from flying high? What’s your “domino…” the thing that if you knock THAT down, the rest will follow?
2) What’s the thing you are most PROUD of regarding taking care of yourself? What’s the thing you’ve really had to work at and have earned feeling good about?
I then took those cards and created… this. An open window to all of our souls that I’ll be damned if 95% of us can’t relate to most of them. These are real people taking on real life… and really winning! Life is a yin-yang… to know good you must also know bad.
We all know bad… What’s your answer?