As long as I remember, I’ve always wanted to be a Ninja Turtle.
I grew up in Pueblo, Colorado. I spent all the time I could playing baseball, mountain biking, camping, and eating. We’re Italian, we eat, it’s what we do. After finishing high school, I spent two weeks playing summer baseball at Victor Valley Junior College in Victorville, California. I was offered a spot on the team, but I decided that I was done with baseball and went to CU Boulder in the fall instead. During the three semesters that I spent in Boulder, I made a lot of mistakes, or learned a lot about life depending on your outlook on it. Without baseball, I wasn’t sure who I was, and even though I got really good grades, I actually had no idea what I wanted to do, so I transferred back home to Pueblo to Colorado State University Pueblo. While taking a plethora of classes there, I stumbled upon a Civil Engineering degree and a job with an international industrial construction company called TIC. I helped build a cement plant in Pueblo, and three months before I was to transfer to a different project, I met my future wife, Emily. This is the time in my life that I actually think that I started to be alive, to develop my soul. For some reason that I can’t explain, I don’t think that everyone is born with a soul. I believe that you actually earn one through living, questioning everything, and giving parts of yourself (time, attention, etc.) to others. If you would like to discuss this with me, let’s go get a beer or a coffee.
The cement plant was done. Emily and I moved to the thriving metropolis of Hastings, Nebraska to start a new project, building an expansion to a coal fire power plant. Oh yea, and we found out that Emily was pregnant with our future badass little ninja princess. I actually attribute Nebraska with my decline in health. Working 12 hours a day in a place with no mountains and coming home exhausted to a pregnant woman who want to only eat pickles and peaches (not together, that’s gross) put me in a bad place health wise. I didn’t notice yet. Addison came to us in October of that year. This is the time of my life that I attribute to going down the path of becoming who I am today.
In March, we finished that project and headed to Tulsa, Oklahoma for my next project which was a new gas fired power plant. I continued to get in worse and worse shape. After a year of being in Tulsa, I was asked to play on a softball team. The first game, my first at bat, I hit a double. I remember this vividly, not because of how I hit the ball or what the crazy Oklahoma weather was doing, but because I had just ran 120 feet and I was completely winded. Whaaaat. The. Hellllllll. I remember going home that night, taking off my shirt, and finally seeing what bad shape that I had become. The next day, I started training for a 5 k. Running sucks, but I started really enjoying it. This time of my life is where I found cardio that had nothing to do with having fun.
After two years in Tulsa, our next stop was the corporate office in Omaha, Nebraska. Once again, Nebraska kind of sucks. The Omaha Zoo is top notch though. Ask Emily about the fruit bats, it’s a great story. Fitness wise, we joined a Lifetime Fitness that was close to the house. It was a nice facility, huge pool, and we met one of the most important people in our fitness lives while we were there. Her name is Kael Molton, and she introduced us to Russian Kettlebells. Emily had Kael as a personal trainer and came to me ecstatic about kettle bells. I fell in love with them too, and you will never hear me complain about having to sling around “The Angry Russians” during a workout. I still have a 32 kg Russian that I lovingly refer to as the Gorilla Skull in my basement. Damn thing is mean. This is the time of my life that I found functional strength.
Around 4 years ago, I finally got to transfer back to my home district office in Denver. I kept training with the kettlebells and running. It wasn’t until around a year and a half ago that a friend of mine named Hayes nagged me enough to go to a Crossfit class in TruFit athletic club, on an old basketball court, with a dude named Kerry who looked like a bodybuilder, and a goofball named Korby who was teaching the class. We had class two times a week with shitty gear, but I quickly became addicted. Three months after that, I went to my first class across the street at Fit Park Meadows. My first workout at a real Crossfit Box was taught by my man Joby, and it was 15.5. Over the next three months, I learned that I wasn’t mentally strong enough to do Crossfit, so I began meditating daily. Get the Headspace App and do the program. It has helped me grow so much. I am currently in the time of my life that I am finding mental strength.
Then a weird thing happened at the beginning of October. My friend Korby posted that he was opening a box in Castle Rock. My friend Joby told me that he was leaving Fit to work with Korby. I went to see Korby in his new gym which wasn’t open yet, and he was painting the ductwork black. The very next week, I took my family to Disneyland. It is the first true vacation that we have ever had. It was a vacation that we had planned for and saved for five years. The second night there, we were walking around, trying desperately to find a place to sit to watch the night parade. Out of nowhere, I hear my name being yelled. I turn around and there is Korby, with his whole clan, waving me down. We sat there, our families together laughing and watching the parade. It is one of the happiest memories of my life. To sum up, here are some of my beliefs.
1. Ohana over everything. My family is my true strength. My wife and my daughter are the reason why I push, why I go. Also, you don’t need to be blood to be in my family.
2. Earned, never deserved. The word deserve is not allowed in my house. You either earn something or you don’t.
3. Body, mind, soul. All three together or none at all.
4. Collect memories, not things. I’m working on this one.
5. Don’t drink shitty coffee or crappy beer.
6. You can’t help anyone else if you can’t help yourself.
7. Don’t get cheap when buying shoes or a mattress because you use them every day. (Credit to Emily)
8. There are no chance meetings. Don’t be a dick to strangers, or at all, really.
9. Never back down from a bully or a challenge.
10. Always watch cheesy, old Kung Fu movies.
11. Don’t look at the “strong people’s” scores or times in the gym and try to beat them. Observe their efforts and to match or beat that.
12. See the great things in life, every day. Be mindful of the beauty that surrounds us. Don’t take it for granted. One day you may end up living in Nebraska and you’ll miss it greatly.
14. You can learn something from every other person on the planet.
15. No wasted days, but wasting time isn’t always time that is wasted.