My initial journey began a few years ago while working for the North Richland Hills Parks and Recreation department at their recreation and fitness facility, the NRH Centre. A guest came to the front desk and asked to speak to Brian, so the staff came and got me. I walked out to the Guest Services desk and greeted the member whose initial comment was “You don’t look like you work out.” It turns out the member was actually asking for Brian, a personal trainer who worked for the facility during that time. But my appearance physically was an immediate deterrent for the member in their hopes of beginning their fitness journey. The brief confusion was handled, but that comment had me reevaluating what I wanted for myself personally and also as a parks and recreation professional.
I grew up in a very active lifestyle, participating in many after school programs and athletics. As a parks and recreation professional, I always told myself I would never fall victim to the struggles of obesity. Even in my daily life, I never felt heavy, still continuing to workout a few days a week and participating in a weekly adult basketball league. But the truth was I just didn’t want to admit that maybe I did begin to slip from where I was as an “athlete.” I was struggling with the mental challenges, time management, discipline, nutrition, etc. that many can struggle with trying to live a healthier lifestyle. And the fact that I worked at a “gym” was even harder for me to swallow. I personally was not setting the right example for the community and guests of our facility.
So I decided to do what, honestly, I was too afraid to do for some time, step on a scale. The scale read 297 pounds which still to this day feels impossible. I was embarrassed. In my athletic days, I weighed about 220 pounds, so the thought of being near 300 pounds was a true eye opener. I began to take my workouts more seriously and developed a routine that worked for me. I overcame some of the struggles that parks and recreation professionals sometimes deal with working out at their own facility, but gaining that confidence at the NRH Centre helped me start my success.
I began working for the City of Grand Prairie in September of 2017, and set a goal for myself: I was going to be a better example and advocate for recreation, fitness, nutrition, arts, music, and everything The Epic will be able to provide. I continued to improve my fitness and health through daily workouts, runs in the parks, and participating in basketball and volleyball leagues throughout the area. For the first time in my life, I was working out for me and actually started to enjoy it. I had dropped some weight, but began to plateau. Robert Serna, The Epic Supervisor of Fitness and Wellness, came on board and started a nutrition challenge. I listened to his amazing knowledge, experience, and found foods that worked for me. In a matter of a few months, I dropped additional weight and as of today am weighing in around 230 pounds. I have had low back pain most of my adult life and no longer require multiple doctor’s trips to address the pain. I feel the best I have in about 12 years, and I not only improved my physical stature, but also improved socially, emotionally, and gained more confidence professionally.
The Epic and the Grand Prairie Parks, Arts & Recreation Department’s vision is to bring people together to change lives. I can say that The Epic has already changed my life just through the anticipation of unlocking opportunities for others. We are very excited to be opening later this year to provide you with epic opportunities in fitness, arts, music, youth programs, aquatics, adaptive recreation, athletics, and many amenities, programs, and events that may help change your life. You are the one who measures your success based on your goals.
We want to share in your success story whether it be physically, socially, emotionally, or something else you are proud of. We know it’s not always an easy path and can be difficult to share, which even was the case for me. But please let us hear them!
Share your story for a chance to win an individual annual membership to The Epic and a special feature on JoinTheEpic.com and Facebook. Submit your story and contact information to Ellen Bagley at email@example.com by September 15, 2018. The Epic Success winner will be announced September 21st and 22nd at EpicFest, JoinTheEpic.com, and our social media pages.