FGB Badass: Aaron Arehart

Fight Gone Bad: 1 Day | 1 Workout | 1 Purpose… and thousands of athletes of various fitness levels all across the country, fighting their way through wall ball, push press, rowing, sumo deadlift high pull, and box jumps, one minute at a time.

Pretty neat, right?

I’m fortunate to know a bunch of badasses that are participating this year, and I’d like to introduce you to some of them… meet Aaron.

[CrossFit is so much fun, it makes Aaron do handstands.]

Aaron Arehart

Dayjob: I’m a digital documents processor for TrialSmith.com… basically a cog in the corporate machine, but on the upside, its a pretty laid-back machine. I wear flip-flops to work!

What’s your favorite athletic activity right now?
CrossFit! With swimming a close second.

Tell us about your fitness and athletic background.
The short version: I’ve always been active. As a kid I played little league soccer, baseball, and got into as much trouble as a boy can at my family’s ranch. I started martial arts at 13 and did that for several years until a knee injury. After high school, I lifeguarded and swam. Once I recuperated from my knee injury, I kept swimming to stay active until I found CrossFit in August 2008.

The long version: At 17, I tore cartilage in my knees, and was stupid/macho/whatever and tried to train through it. Bad call. I took what could have been a minor injury a made it major one. The short version of my visits with doctors went something like this:

Doc: You don’t have much cartilage left in either knee. But we can do arthroscopic surgery.

Aaron: If we do surgery, how long could it take me to get back to training?

Doc: Oh, you’ll never run again.

Aaron: Well… I can’t run now, so you’re not cutting me open.

The good news: I never had surgery.

The bad news: It still hurt to walk.

No cartilage in your knees results in bone-to-bone-contact which is very, very painful. Physical therapy didn’t help, and acupuncture only relieved the pain for a day… if I was lucky. After several long years of single-handedly keeping Aleve and Advil in business – with knees so jacked up I could feel the weather change like an old man – a family friend told my Mom about what would be the solution: ozone-therapy.

The doc said that once a week for 10 weeks I would get injections of ozone gas into my knees, from the side, just under the kneecap. Then I’d go back for an MRI to see if there was progress. To be clear: we’re talking about an injection with a gigantic needle, but at that point, I was willing to try anything. All the while, I’d take glucosamine and chondroitin pills (cartilage enzymes).

After nine weeks of treatment, I was virtually pain free! The ozone, in conjunction with the glucosamine/chondroitin pills, had jump-started cartilage growth in my knees! I could walk up stairs again. I could swim! I had virtually no leg muscle, and could still feel the weather change, but I was ecstatic. All I had to do was build leg muscle and I’d be back!

Unfortunately, I returned to physical therapy and ended up doing bodybuilding crap. I’ve probably done more leg-extensions and leg curls than Arnold Schwarzenegger! The results were mediocre. The only thing I looked forward to was swimming. I could swim and not have my knees ache for a few days. I spent another several years making only modest improvement in leg strength, and almost no improvement functionally. But my swimming technique improved!

Then in late 2007, I found CrossFit.com. Once I saw videos of Greg Amundson and Annie Sakamoto absolutely crushing workouts. I knew I wanted to be able to do that. I tried to do an air squat and fell on my butt. I could do barely more than a quarter-squat without holding onto something. So that’s what I did until I could do a full squat.

In February 2008, I went to a UTB and got completely crushed. I mean crushed. I think I was the only one who didn’t finish the workout. What I’ll never forget was being sore for a week afterward. A whole week. For some stupid reason I didn’t join right then and there. I kept sputtering along on my own and got to where I could do OK air squats. Then in August 2008, after reading Jeremy’s blog about Operation Relentless, I joined up.

For the next three months, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 5:30 a.m. I would show up to CrossFit Central and get totally crushed. I loved it. Still do. Sometime around Christmas, I noticed my knees no longer ached when the weather changed. After New Year’s Eve this year, I called my orthopedic doctor after a 3-mile run… just because.

[Town Lake, Fourth of July 2008]

Why are you participating in Fight Gone Bad?

Because of the two great causes, its another great excuse to hang out with such a great community, but mostly: because I can!!

Do you have a goal for your Fight Gone Bad performance?
I want to score over 300… without puking!

[The monthly assessment version of FGB, February 2008]

What’s the one song they could play during Fight Gone Bad that would get you totally fired up?
I usually don’t use music to get fired up for WODs…. but I’ll go with “My Hero” by Foo Fighters.

What’s your favorite part of the FGB workout? Least favorite?
My favorite part of FGB is the end, when its over. My least favorite has to be sumo deadlift high pull.

[The real deal: FGB III, September 2008]

Got a FGB strategy?
Go all out for 15 minutes, and try not to puke afterward.

What will you eat for breakfast before FGB – and more importantly, what will you eat AFTER?
I’ll probably drink a muscle-milk shake about an hour before FGB, and one right after for recovery. Then I’m thinking Torchy’s tacos, or maybe pizza? It’ll probably end up a game-day decision, but a cheat meal for sure.

If you could do FGB alongside someone – living or dead, fictional or real – who would it be?
Chris Spealler, a.k.a. Speal, from CrossFit Park City; he’s a 135-lb. badass Crossfitter. That guy is inspiring to me not merely because of his capability as little guy, but because of his attitude and widespread reputation as a nice guy.

How will you celebrate after Fight Gone Bad?
By lying on the floor for awhile 😉

How will you get psyched up for FGB?
Right before a tough WOD, I usually pace around the area, just clearing my head.

Are you wearing a special outfit or bringing a good luck charm?
Well, I will be rocking my Chuck Taylor All Stars!

Do you have any advice/tricks for people who are thinking about tackling a new activity or competition and need a kick-in-the-pants to start?
You have to just make a decision one way or the other and act! It really is that simple. Don’t waste time worrying about feeling awkward or being a beginner at something – everybody starts somewhere, and everyone has something to improve on.

If the “just do it” Nike speech doesn’t work for you, think back to being a kid. Think of how great it felt to finally ride your bicycle without training wheels, or the sense of accomplishment you felt working a math problem on the chalk board in front of the whole class and how you thought, “This isn’t so bad. Why was I all worked up in the first place?”

[Lean Turkey team “C-Unit,” 2nd place winners of the Challenge, November 2008]

Got a favorite quote?
Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the realization that there is something more important than fear. – Anonymous

Workout, schmerkout. What do you like to do that doesn’t require a) punching a time clock and b) counting reps?
I’m a reader. Some of my favorites are: Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield, and anything Calvin & Hobbes.

Anything else you want people to know about you?
I’m 5th generation Texan and a ha-yuuge New York Yankees fan.

[Aaron and his friend Hilary at Fenway Park for a Yankees v. Red Sox game]

Have you sponsored an athlete yet? Click here to make a donation to Aaron’s FGB Fund.

Be sure to visit Aaron’s motivational blog, Aaron’s Agoge.

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