222 Muscle The Sofia Graham Foundation
Back in 1996 November 21, my life changed! I drove an 18 wheeler for FedEx, and collided with another 18 wheeler! Needless to say, I wasn’t the fortunate one, and suffered extensive debilitating damage to my body! Injuries included 10 broken bones in left leg, including two major compound fractures, which were femur, and tibia, severed Achilles, and lower calf, two crushed knee caps, left side of jaw, eye socket, and cheek crushed, severe brain injury, collapsed lung, cracked ribs, torn rotator cuff, and called in DOA, and put into a chemical induced coma, since I had lost 20 units of blood on the scene, and would’ve died in a matter of minutes, if I wasn’t induced and with the flesh missing from my left leg, I succumb to 47 units of blood, because of a main artery severed! Once medevacd I was only given 24 hours to live! One surviving the 24 hour period, the focus was on my left leg, and left eye, which were both saved, and extensive surgeries! After 4 extensive surgeries, it was wait and see for 4 days until my leg clotting, and coming out of a coma, otherwise my leg would’ve been lost! The moral of this story is, the Doctors emphasized had I not been in good shape, which was a tribute to daily gym time, and training for a body building competition, I would not be here today! In their words, the average human wouldn’t have made it! After 25 surgeries, and extensive rehab, I’m considered a walking miracle.
I like to think of fitness of being more of a lifestyle rather than a random series of inconsistent activities. I have always struggled with my body image since I was a child. The most upsetting memory I have regarding my appearance was in elementary school, when one of my male classmates, compared me a group of girls in my class who were “way smaller” than me. He said that I was “so much bigger” than all of them and I didn’t “fit into the group”. As a result, I struggled with my relationship with food. I sought comfort in it because I didn’t believe that I could ever change the way I looked or be this ideal image of a girl was supposed to be. When I was 10 years old, however, I found my parent’s old, Gilad, home fitness VHS tapes, launching my interest in fitness, health, and wellness. Form there, I not only lost weight, but I realized at a very young age, that I could pursue anything that I wanted, as long as I worked hard for it. As a result, I pursued dance, softball, volleyball, and track and field throughout middle school, high school, and college. But I wanted so much more. When I was a freshman in college, I became inspired by women in the bodybuilding industry and I wanted to pursue their coveted look. I started working at a gym where I was surrounded by personal trainers who were all very athletic and had amazing physiques. They all competed in bodybuilding competitions and I was fascinated and enthralled by their discipline. Since the age of 19, I began competing in bodybuilding competitions and maintained a lifestyle of health, wellness, and fitness - and have not looked back since.
20 years ago I was facing the most emotionally challenging time in my life. I was broken hearted from an unforeseen divorce at the age of 24 from my first love and high school sweetheart. I had never experienced such devastation and found myself in a new state and predicament of having to learn to support myself for the very first time in my life. As a military wife new to this area I did not know anyone. I was alone in this new place completely lost and broken. For a few years I aimlessly tried to get through each day the best I could working 80 + hours a week and still unable to buy groceries. I had made one friend who introduced me to the bar scene which I was not used to coming from a sheltered life. I spent those few years depressed and hanging out with the only people I knew at various bars. As years went by and I was still as depressed as the first day my life took a turn for the worse, I knew I had to make a change, even though I didn’t know how or what to do.
That’s when I decided to join a gym and spend my time trying to make healthier choices than hanging out in bars every night. That single decision changed the trajectory of my life forever.
Little did I know it would affect me in more ways than one. Not only did it put me in a more positive atmosphere where I made numerous new friends, but it made me feel better physically and emotionally working towards SOMETHING which is exactly what I needed in my life to get me out of major depression. I would go to the gym at 5 AM then work 10 hours at my job, and then finish my day at the gym after work. In doing this my passion for health and a new beginning pushed me to make positive changes and even changed my career path. I realized how much it was improving my emotional brokenness as well as my health and I decided if it could do that for me, I wanted to help do that for others. Thus began my quest to become a trainer. Little did I know then where it would lead me! Ever since that decision, I have enjoyed the past 18 years in the fitness industry, working as a Personal Trainer, Fitness Consultant, Personal Training Director, Assistant General Manager, and General Manager at Gold’s Gym. I also competed in various NPC shows and competed at the National level. I have numerous Training Certifications and most recently obtained 3 Nutrition Certifications and started my own Nutrition and Training Company. The gym is not just a place where vain people go to take selfies and post pictures on IG.
It is for the broken, the weak, the strong, the insecure, and anyone trying to make positive changes in life!
This shoutout is long overdue everyone. There is a man that deserves a whole lot of credit and it will be addressed here.
This man has been an inspiration to me since I was 24 years old, a businessman, an entrepreneur, someone that would always talk with you and iron your own life problems out, even if he had very stressful problems of his own. This is not an owner in the shadows.
A very interactive owner and an owner of a gym which positively affected all our lives in a good way. A gym we all miss and have so many memories in. All my PRs and best gains were in this man's gym.
Once I was in a bad place and I sat in the gym for hours until almost close of business at 12am, and this man came up to me and asked if I was okay. I told him my story, which was tragic at that time in my life, and he listened with opened ears and arms and said very positive words after relating in certain ways. I left the gym with confidence and I picked myself out of a hole and supercharged my life.
That being said, this man has been through more than most of you can imagine, heartbreak that most of us cannot fathom. And somehow he manages to continue to progress and build everyday, at an age when most people give up and pass the torch, he is improving like a 23 year old. A pissed off 23 year old that just lost an important person in his life, and now has a point to prove. A goal to hit. A hurdle to surpass. A milestone that most of us will never hit. Winning 1st place in his division of bodybuilding. Something he should have already won with his dedication second to none.
Without this man's gym, the people in that gym, the family there, the hard-core environment, his kind words and motivation when I needed it, I would not be who iam today, nor as successful.
This man's name is Kelly Kirk the owner or powerhouse gym. Kelly, go win that damn division. Don't stop. Don't quit. Train harder than ever. You owe it to yourself, and to a special someone else. You will attain it. And we're all behind you. Thank you bro.
My Name is Jerry Ward.
Bodybuilding has saved my life on many occasions.
One of them specifically was...heroin addiction. In my mid 20s I found myself down and out from emotional and tragic events where i wound up medicating myself with drugs.
Over time one thing led to another and I found myself in full blown heroin addiction.
But not like the typical story. Bodybuilding, which i had been competing in for a decade, had given me willpower, discipline, and the mindset to never stop. Never stop training, eating the bodybuilding foods and living that lifestyle. So even in full blown heroin addiction I was 230lb in great shape at 5 foot 9 in the gym daily, eating my food, it was like no matter what I could power through and still be a bodybuilder. Even in full blown withdrawls I was in the gym, shaking every set with 20lb on the bar, or stack, feeling like i would diet each and every rep. But i would finish the workouts. always.
When I decided to get clean it was like deciding to do a show. All in 110%. No backing off, no cheating myself doing the work that it takes to get to the goal.
Being sober. so what did I do?
I applied all the things bodybuilding taught me. not give in to cravings, remain in a positive mindset, go through physical and mental pain, give myself pep talks, most importantly I HELD MYSELF ACCOUNTABLE EVERY SINGLE DAY. I Treated rehab like i was getting onstage. I dont cheat on my diet, I dont miss workouts, I dont miss cardio session. I stick to my schedule. I applied that to relapse. I simply just DID NOT ALLOW myself to relapse.
I use my bodybuilding knowledge and still do today in everything I do. So how did it work out? its been 21 years this year, clean, sober, not ONE single relapse. just like not cheating on my diet or missing workouts. without bodybuilding I would not be here.
Bodybuilding saved my life and it saves many people's lives every day.
Thank you for listening.
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