Featured Athlete: Shawn Wilson
My Name is Shawn Wilson and I’m 35 years old. In February of 2011 I went to the doctor for my yearly check up. While I was there I explained to my doctor that several people in my family have had a blood disease that makes them prone to blood clots. My doctor referred me to a cardiologist for some testing. The first time I met with the cardiologist he had me take a stress-test along with several other tests. One portion of the stress-test involved me walking at a brisk pace on an incline treadmill for several minutes, which made me feel as if I were going to pass out.
About a week or so later I returned to the cardiologist to get my test results and was informed that the stress-test indicated that I may have a blockage in my heart. The cardiologist told me that he wanted to schedule an arteriogram, which is where he would insert a micro-camera into an artery in my groin and run it all the way into my heart to verify if there was indeed a blockage. Needless to say this scared the living hell out of me. Nevertheless I agreed and went back the following week for the arteriogram.
The morning of the test I had to fill out several documents that informed me of the seriousness of this procedure and that death was even a possibility. Once again this scared the hell out of me. I agreed to let them conduct the procedure and came out of it with no complications.
The next part is what really opened my eyes. The cardiologist explained to me that my heart was in great shape and that I had nothing to worry about. However, he further explained that if I had not been so over weight I would not have gotten the positive results on the first stress-test. Therefore, if I did not want to go through this again I needed to loose weight. The cardiologist told me that I needed to take it easy for about six weeks and let the artery heal but after this I should find some type of exercise program to attend. I left his office almost in tears. I couldn’t believe that I had allowed myself to get into such poor physical condition. I also could not believe that I had just put myself along with my family through this scare all because I was over weight!
Now the fun part begins! When all of this was going on, my wife, Devin told me that her cousin had opened a CrossFit Gym in Jennings La. And that she had been watching a lot of videos on-line and wanted to find out more about CrossFit. Devin searched and found out about CrossFit Beaumont Boot Camps and that there was a class in Vidor, which is about 25 minutes from our house. She began going to the boot-camp and was having great results. I got online and read some of the amazing stories written by the featured athletes. This made me think that CrossFit may be something I could and would do.
I found the telephone number for CrossFit Mid-County and made the call. I spoke with Stefan Salinas over the telephone and explained to him that I wanted to try CrossFit. I asked Stefan about the on-ramp classes and asked what I need to do to schedule my first class. Stefan explained that he was offering two weeks free and encouraged me to drop by any time for a class and see what I thought. This was on a Wednesday so I suggested maybe starting the following Monday. Stefan in return asked what was wrong with Thursday, and indicated that there was no need to wait until Monday. I thought to myself that I needed someone to hold me accountable and that this may be the guy, so I agreed and told Stefan I would see him at the noon class on Thursday.
Around 11:45 AM on Thursday, April 14th, I arrived and I found myself in the parking lot of CFMC trying to work up the courage to walk inside. I finally walked in and was met by Neal Riley. I had spent enough time looking at the CFB Web Site to know who this guy was. Neal had me fill out a few forms and spent the next hour kicking my ass. I remember thinking about halfway through the warm up that this had to almost be over. Then Neal began explaining the ‘Skill Work” and said that the ‘Workout of the Day” would follow. Once we completed the WOD, Neal told me that we would be doing a cool down exercise. I felt excited that I was finally going to get a chance to cool down until Neal explained that the cool down consisted of me pushing the “Butcher Sled” back and forth across the gym floor. This was not much of a cool down!! I don’t know if I was lost in all of the CrossFit lingo or delirious from exhaustion when I left but I could not seem to remember what all had just taken place. I did remember one thing. There were about ten other people in this class and I never once felt like I was being judged or looked down upon because I was in such bad shape. I also remembered that everyone in the class was supportive and encouraged me to come back.
The next morning as I attempted to get out of bed I began asking myself what I had done the day before to hurt so bad. I could barley make it to the shower and spent the entire day being afraid to sit down because I knew my legs would hurt when I tried to get up, but I went back to CFMC!
On my second day there I was given the opportunity to meet Stefan Salinas. Stefan explained that Neal usually filled in on Thursdays at noon but that he would be there most of the time. Stefan asked me what I thought about my first day and what I expected to get out of CrossFit. I explained my situation to Stefan and he said something along the lines of “we can help with this”. Man, was he ever right about that.
I have spent the last eight months attending CFMC three to five times a week. I walked into that place weighing 325 pounds and unable to do a single push-up correctly, run the 300 meter warm-up without stopping, or dead lift my body weight along with a number of other inabilities.
With CrossFit and my love/hate relationship with Paleo, I have lost 60 pounds and about 6 inches in my waist. I feel better than I have ever felt my entire life. I am commonly doing workouts that have 50 or more push-ups, one mile runs along with a number of other movements and completing the entire WOD. I still have a long way to go to get into the physical condition I plan on being in. Between me constantly talking about CrossFit and my visible results, I have managed to convince three coworkers, one friend and my brother to join CFMC.
When Stefan asked me to be his next “Featured Athlete” I was amazed and humbled. I just kept thinking back to the beginning of the year when doctors were telling me that I needed to loose weight, I could not correctly complete an Air Squat and I almost passed out during a stress-test that involved me walking on an incline treadmill for a few minutes. Mostly, I realized that CrossFit had changed all of this.
There is no doubt that CrossFit has changed my life. I try to look into the future and one thing is certain, CrossFit is something I plan to do forever. Stefan Salinas along with the other coaches I regularly see; Neal Riley, Brian Nedab, Justin Talley and Toben Squires have helped me in ways I never thought possible.
I have never been a part of an environment where I immediately felt so accepted. The athletes at CFMC and CFB are awesome! There is no better feeling than the sound of your piers cheering you on when you want to quit halfway through a workout or when you are the last one to finish and they never stop encouraging you.
I have to say that the hardest part of my CrossFit experience was working up the courage to walk through the door of CFMC and get started!! Thanks to everyone who has either guided or encouraged me along the way. I look forward to what the next 8 months will bring.