World’s Toughest Mudder – Part 1

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*

If this is an obstacle next year... I'm out.

If this is an obstacle next year… I’m out.

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!!

What radical looks like.

What radical looks like. Ignore the fact that Cara looks like grumpy cat… It was a long 24 hours and the Starbucks hadn’t kicked in yet!

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!

The night before the first Tahoe Tough Mudder! It didn't put hair on my chest, just on my face and head.

The night before the first Tahoe Tough Mudder! It didn’t put hair on my chest, just on my face and head.

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….

How about the 1st time Justin gave me a shower?

How about the 1st time Justin gave me a shower?

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.

A gnarly sandstorm with 28 degree windchill factor was not in the brochure

A gnarly sandstorm with 28 degree windchill factor was not in the brochure

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!

That's what that shovel is for after all!

That’s what that shovel is for after all!

The Cliff

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?”

The answer is no. It's never a good idea.

The answer is no. It’s never 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.”

Here we see a fine example of me trying to talk myself into being alright. We also see an example of "there are 2 types of people..."

Here we see a fine example of me trying to talk myself into being alright. We also see an example of “there are 2 types of people…”

 

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.

Pictured: Cara assuring me everything is going to be alright.

Pictured: Cara assuring me everything is going to be alright.

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.

Not even chicken nuggets could save me

Not even chicken nuggets could save me

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;

“Nope.”

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).

I was digging as deep as I ever have

I was digging as deep as I ever have

 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. 

Touche Tom, touche...

Touche Tom, touche…

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?

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This. This was my 1st thought.

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).

I thought if I wore football jerseys ALL THE TIME I'd look "athletic." I'd like to publicly apologize to Marcus Allen.

I thought if I wore football jerseys ALL THE TIME I’d look “athletic.” I’d like to publicly apologize to Marcus Allen.

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.

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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)

Holiday Rebel Shirt!

 

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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 :).

Secured by PayPal

- Rebel8

World’s Toughest Mudder Circuit Workout!

Click on the Photo to download the workout reference guide straight to your phone, tablet, or computer!

Click on the Photo to download the workout reference guide straight to your phone, tablet, or computer!

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!

The Workout

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!!!!

Reference Photo 1 Reference Photo 2 Reference Photo 3 Reference Photo 4

Processed with Moldiv

- Rebel8

Rebel Winter Rescue II: Team Roster!

Processed with Moldiv

Left: Amelia Island, FL in 2013 where the purple and orange “What’s Next?” Fitness Rebellion shovel was birthed and signed by all the Fitness Rebel leaders. Right: Chuck Runyon & Dave Mortensen, founders of Anytime Fitness, breaking ground on the new Anytime Fitness Corporate campus set to open in 2016 with that very shovel. AhhhOOOO!!!

To learn more about the shovel… CLICK HERE

 

RWRII Team Roster:


Monday/Wednesday (7pm & 6pm)

Malena DeMartini
Sandra Schnider

Kevin Price
Angelica Byrne
Bobby Stewart
Michelle “Hulk” Huntley

Victoria “T-Bones” Nicolas
Megan “Ming” Gill

Tami Tuminello 
Mindy Witter 
Giovanni Ponce 
RayRay Ponce 
Becca Acosta 
Cynthia Karlen
Kaila Finch
Cara Jones
Maggie Schuck
Kathy Karlen 
Lorna Kennedy-Klein
Kristina Tovani

Tuesday/Thursday (7pm & 6pm)

 Abby Moreno
Alyx J. Livingston
Megan Collett
Cheryl Murray
Dorothy Roche
Kevin Harer
Lynsey Ventr
es

Christy Bishop
Austin Finch
Karen Solberg
Lori DeMarco
Jim Zilian
Risa Zilian

Suzanne Pelz
Josue Herrera

Rebel Winter Rescue II – The Schedule

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The Schedule

CLICK HERE to download the schedule to your phone, tablet, computer, or device.

CLICK HERE to sign-up!

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.

AhhhhOOOOO!!!!!!!!

- Rebel8

Justin “HOVA” Zuiderweg – An Enthusiasm for Misery

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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.”

Justin Young Final

“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.

Justin 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.

Justin San Diego 08

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.

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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.”

 

Justin Tattoo

“I’m alive again, more alive than I have been in my whole entire life.” Eminem – No Love

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.

Justin & Maggie

Love will literally run you wild.

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…

Justin & Trent

 

- Rebel8

Rebel Summer of Balance Slideshow

S.O.B.

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!

Dig what you see and want to sign up?
CLICK HERE!

- Rebel8

 

United Rebel Nation

READ THE DESCRIPTION BELOW BEFORE WATCHING THE VIDEO

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?

- Rebel8

Rebel Winter Rescue II – Let’s Make It Through the Holidays… Together!

 

IMG_1104The Premise

Looking for a fun way to stay fit and active this winter? Need some help fighting the “holi-daze” and all the frumpy weather, sluggish food, and cozy sweaters just begging you to hibernate until the 1st of the year? Hoping for some accountability so you’re not just left to your own devices while having every nutritional, stretching, exercise, and meditative tool at your disposal?

BAM! HERE IT IS!!

For 9 weeks we will rock this winter in true Rebel fashion; lots of hard work, lots of fun, and an endless supply of encouragement along the way. No measurements… No weekly weigh-ins… Simply a fit test at the beginning and end with a bunch of people just like you sticking together and diggin’ deep! All abilities, age ranges, experiences, and every other diverse situation you can possibly think of are welcome! NO REBEL LEFT BEHIND! Interested? Check out this video created during the 1st “Rebel Winter Rescue!”

Rebel Winter Rescue II:
Vital Info

There are 2 day/time options to choose from:

Monday @ 7pm/Wednesday @ 6pm
&
Tuesday @ 7pm/Thursday @ 6pm

The cost is $200 for Anytime Fitness Members, $275 for 1st time Rebel challenge participants who do NOT have a membership, and $375 for non-Anytime Fitness members who have done a rebel challenge before but choose to forgo getting a membership. A down payment of $100 is required by the start date but payment plans are available upon request!

If the above works for you then mark the following on your calendars:

Starts: October 27th (Monday)
Ends: January 3rd (Saturday… the ONLY Saturday we meet the entire challenge with a surprise in store)
Halloween Workout: October 29th/30th
Red, White, and Blue Workout: 10th/11th (in honor of Veteran’s Day)
3rd Annual Turkey Reb-Bowl Football Game: November 27th (Thursday… everyone welcome!!)
Black Friday Boot Camp w/ Special Guests: November 28th (Friday)

That’s not all but you’ll have to wait until the full schedule is released in a couple weeks to get the full scope of awesomeness this challenge will have in store (like additional themes, toy/clothes/food drives, and more!)

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Last Year’s crew of good lookin’ winter Rebels!

 Sign-up Now!

Simply fill out the quick and easy sign-up sheet below and you’re in! Once you’ve signed up you will be added to the mailing list so you will be kept updated with more info on this shindig as it comes out.

If you have any questions at all then feel free to CLICK HERE for all my contact info! I look forward to answering any questions you’ve got or simply touching base with you and puttin’ some gasoline on your inspirational fire… whatever you need!

AhhhhhOOOOO!!!!

- Rebel8

Rebel Ramblings – The Pursuit of Toughness #3

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So week 2 of Operation World’s Toughest Cox has concluded and just like every other week it had its share of ups and downs. I’ll get the downs out of the way first so that we can take a shovel, bury them in the yard, and put a tombstone up that reads “learned from and moved on.”

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My goals for the week were as such:

* Make yoga once this week
* Get in 1 trail run

* Run 15 miles total
* Get in a savage beach workout
* 4 weight training days
* minimum 30 total minutes on the “Lateral X”
* Increased vegetable intake
* Increased breakfast intake
* Reduced night time eating intake

Soakin' in the chakras!

Takin’ in the chakras!

Unfortunately extreme fatigue reared its insubordinate, grotesque head and I didn’t make yoga. That’s the only physical goal I didn’t make but it’s a pretty big one for me. I LOVE the centered focus you get but even more so I love the flexibility training that it forces me to do in ways that I don’t do normally. Stretching aside you work muscle groups, tendons, and ligaments in a way that you’re not going to get from a weight training session, circuit class, cardio, or anything else. That’s the reason why I love Zumba…

Pictured: Mid-Zumba Love

Pictured: Mid-Zumba Love. I’d like to think Denise feels similarly on the inside.

 

When else are you going to move your body in such a way that knocks all the cobwebs out, gets you limber, increases blood flow to areas normally lacking, works up a sweet sweat, AND you get to have fun? As my favorite Zumba Instructor of all time (and one of my all time favorite people in general) Jessica LaVenter states it’s exercise in disguise!

This is Jessica. Soak in the wisdom.

This is Jessica. Soak in the wisdom.

To be fair though… There are a lot Zumba routines that are DEFINITELY not disguised… The exercise punches you square in the face and laughs at you while you try to get up and keep the rhythm with the rest of the class.

Realistic depiction.

Realistic depiction.

As for the nutritional component I decreased my veggie intake from last week but it was still up from average. My breakfast intake was good and my late night eating was… ehhhh. Better than average but I definitely had a few more bowls of cereal than I should have.

And a couple of mini donuts, some chocolate pie, and some In N’ Out to boot… I’M ONLY HUMAN!!!

In reality a few unwise choices aren’t going to derail me in the slightest! They will, however, throw some sludge on my progress train tracks and with World’s Toughest Mudder merely a few months away there is no time to waste!

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Don’t get me wrong, this has nothing to do with perfectionism… I’d like to think that I pretty much represent the anti-perfectionist because I believe big time in yin yang philosophy. To know good you must know bad and vice versa. That is MAJORLY generalized of course… There are opposite ends of the spectrum on everything meaning one thing cannot exist without the other. Now I’m not talking to know of sadness and happiness but rather to knowing sadness and happiness and experiencing that they hold each other’s hand and guide each other through the dark spots. I apply that to my health, well being, and intense training. I accept it all and know that as long as I’m doing the best that I can then I am the best me that I can be at any given moment which you should NEVER beat yourself up over. It’s when you start short changing, cutting corners, negotiating your worth, and straight up giving up that you should start kicking your own ass and answering your own person judge, jury, and executioner.

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My shortcomings also have nothing to do with weight loss. I don’t look at those donuts, bowls of cereal (frosted flakes for you curious kittens out there), In N’ Out, chocolate pie, or anything else I forgot as hindering my weight. Between my training schedule and bringing the same energy as Richard Simmons on a speed binge to the boot camps I run I’m never short on caloric needs. Hell, I lost 4 pounds this week! I’m thankful beyond words that I have achieved activity as normalcy in my life thus allowing a little bit more food leeway for a food addict like myself. Does that mean I don’t feel shitty when I eat things I shouldn’t? Sure as hell doesn’t! Does that mean it doesn’t knock me on my ass like a hibernating bear when I eat enough to feed a family of 5? Heck no… Does it mean I don’t feel the side stitches that aren’t normally there when I go for a run to try to “filter out” the shit food I ate? Every time…

Another realistic depiction.

Another realistic depiction.

I think you get my point.

If you don’t then I’d like to break it down further… Any health goal you choose is going to take a lot of hard work. If your natural, everyday life brought you towards that goal then it wouldn’t really be a goal now would it? You wouldn’t need to put effort out thus negating any hardship & achievement in one fell swoop.  To alter your lifestyle in a way that goes against your urges is extremely difficult even when we realize those urges are not self serving in the slightest. Well I’ve conquered altering my lifestyle after more than a decade of trying to find the balance. You wouldn’t think normalcy would be so exhilarating but I might as well be Tonka with his head out the window I’m so stoked!

 

Exactly like that.

Exactly like that.

With this newly acquired balance I can now focus on the things that REALLY matter… My overall health and the effects that activity and nutrition have on my overall happiness. Not the scale, not how clothes fit, not what I look like… Happiness. I’ve learned that being active and eating well enough is vital to my happiness. When I’m feeling down there is usually a direct correlation to my activity levels/food intake. I know this about myself and adjust accordingly when I need to. I’m going to do this forever because of that and in no way is that overwhelming now but it sure as hell used to be!

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So that’s pretty much how I feel about that I guess… It really helps me to spew my thoughts on this little white screen but I also hope that somebody somewhere is reading this and recognizing their own inner-monologues, goals, and tested intentions and that brings strikes a motivated chord somewhere deep down to keep going even when the going gets tough.

For all that thought process I am stoked to say that I ran my 200th mile this week in about a 7th month time span. I’m pretty proud of that. Small cox for some but big Cox for me! My grip strength training improved drastically in just 1 weeks time and I’m sore in places I haven’t been in awhile which makes me feel all the more better weirdly enough… The beach workout was the gnarliest one yet as we covered 4 miles of coastal running, 200 sand digs, 240 Push-ups with barrel rolls, and 12 god-fucking-awful sand dune bear crawls. I’m pretty convinced that those sand dunes are a masochist’s wet dream. In the end, I’m giving my all and it is all that I can do and exactly what I need to do. I’m taking my body to the limit on my terms and it feels great.

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More importantly, I’m staying sane.

Well... saneISH.

Well… saneISH.

Until next time…

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- Rebel8