Stories of Thanks

2016 CrossFit Games star Jamie Hagiya reminds us today is a day to be thankful:

“I have always been active and love to move and play sports, so CrossFit has been one of the best things to ever happen to me. It gave me a second chance to be an athlete again when I thought those days were long gone. However, when I tore my Achilles in June 2014, it was a major wake-up call for me. Forget the running and jumping, I realized how much of a blessing it was just to be able to walk. I'm so thankful my injury was something I would be able to recover from, but definitely made me appreciate the little things in life.” - Hagiya


Thankful in Vancouver

Two weeks ago, I was stressed out competing in the CrossFit Fort Vancouver Championships online qualifier event. After taking a year off competition, I was questioning my physical abilities, wondering if I could still be in the mix. Setting up for a max jerk in the first event, I was shaking so hard it felt like it was my first ever competition.

Two weeks ago, a max jerk and a couple all-out 400-meter sprints were the most stressful tasks I did.

Fast-forward three days, and there I was in Haiti in the middle of the scariest moment of my life—a car accident, where my travel companions and I stared death in the face, We survived, but I ended up getting my foot run over, shredding much of the skin off the top of my foot.

Interestingly enough, as I sit here with my leg elevated a week-and-a-half later, still unable to walk, with an 80 percent chance of needing skin graft surgery next week, I’m surprisingly thankful.

Had you told me two weeks ago I’d be in this position, I would assume I’d be pissed off as anything: I can’t walk or drive or move very fast through the world at the moment. And the surgeon told me yesterday she doesn’t even want me doing push-ups or pull-ups. (For someone with obvious exercise addiction, that sounds like a tragedy). My partner and I ended up qualifying in second place to the Fort Vancouver Championships, yet there is very little chance I’ll be competing in January at this point. Even the CrossFit Open might be a pipe dream for me at this point. Further, my travel medical insurance didn’t cover any of my medical costs, as I wasn’t able to get receipts in Haiti, and apparently if you want flights covered for a medical emergency you need something called “trip interruption insurance.” (Why bother buying travel medical every single time I leave the county if it's utterly useless in a time of need? Ok, maybe I am slightly bitter). And, of course, being self-employed means missing work means losing income. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be dealing with any of the latter first world problems very well. Ordinarily, I would be a bundle of anger and frustration.

But I’m not.

Today, I feel peace and thanks.


Surprinsgly at peace

I live in Canada. I arrived at the hospital, flashed my CareCard and was treated with the utmost precautionary care: IV antibiotics and a tetanus shot, various swabs to make sure I hadn’t picked anything up in Haiti, morphine and blood tests, a soft bed, and nurses and doctors around the clock monitoring me for infection. If I were a Haitian woman, I would have been wrapped with a towel or an old t-shirt and plunked on the ground in a concrete or grass house and left to heal on my own, or maybe with the healing hands of a witch doctor. And if my immune system, or the witch doctor’s prayers, couldn’t fight the infection on its own, I likely would have lost a limb.

So today, I’m not angry. I’m thankful. Thankful to be alive.

A Thankful Gym Owner

Running a gym isn’t easy.

Maybe you work 60 hours a week and are burnt out. Or maybe you haven’t taken a vacation in three years.

But today is a day for all gym owners to be thankful. Pete Chickloski is.

Chickloski is the owner of Create Athletic Club, which he owns with his wife Trina.  The couple opened their gym in May 2014, right around the time the fitness market in his city of Maple Ridge, British Columbia started to become super saturated. He explained when he opened, there were only 20-some odd fitness facilities in Maple Ridge. Today, there are more than 50. Considering the population of Maple Ridge is just 75,000, it’s a tough market these days, to say the least.

Unwilling to throw in the towel, Chickloski and his wife decided to save money last year by moving into their gym, into a 550 square foot space meant to be an office at the gym. They still live there today.

“We have no kitchen. We have hot plates and use a toaster oven to make meals. My wife and I sleep on the couch. We don’t have laundry. We use a laundromat, but we make it work,” Chickloski said.


Love is all you need...or something like that...

Despite the hard financial time, the Chickloskis don’t feel sorry for themselves. Instead, they’re resilient and thankful. Thankful for each other, for their beautiful, perfectly color-coordinated fitness facility, and for an amazing community of loyal members and friends.

And when you watch them with their clients, they come to life with all the passion in the world. They recently hosted a 24-hour workout-a-thon, where they raised more than $13,000 for cancer research, and when hour 24 came along—running on zero sleep—their energy was still contagious.

They know they’re on the right path and have recently seen some significant business gains, Chickloski explained, and although they still have a long way to go, they remain thankful for what they have.

“I guess we are very stubborn, or very stupid,” Chickloski joked. “(But) we both love helping people change their lives by empowering them through fitness.”

He added: “We moved back to B.C. 7 or 8 years ago and we promised ourselves no matter what happens we will follow our passion. We love owning a gym for the simple fact that everyday, every damn day, we get to pursue our passion.”