Athlete of the Month: Jimmy Douglas
I grew up about sixty miles south of Memphis on the outskirts of a small town called Clarksdale, Mississippi. I came from a poor family and as a result we never could afford for me to play any pee wee sports. When I was in high school I was in a special program that allowed me leave school early in order to go to work to make money to provide for myself and family.Â Growing up I was never involved in physical activities that would classify me as any sort of athlete. My physical activities were more along the lines of physical labor such as carrying heavy pieces of metal or sacks of seed and shoveling dirt. After high school I worked to put myself through college at Mississippi State University where I earned a Bachelor’s in Physics as well as a Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering.
After college I enlisted in the Army and became one of the Army’s many “computer geeks”. This is where I first began any real physical training falling in the lines of what people think of as exercising. As you might imagine it was a tough start for me; I was physically strong but I was lacking in stamina, especially when it came running. It took time and hard work but I eventually was running a minimum of four miles a day outside of the normal Army organized PT.
About nine months shy of my ETS date (my last day in the Army) I injured my right ankle. Though it did cause me a fair amount of discomfort I didn’t think it was that bad so, I wrapped it up and kept on as best I could. This of course was a bad decision because I only succeeded in causing further injury to my ankle. When I finally went to see a doctor it was believed I would need pins in my ankle. However,Â I worked hard over the next few months at building up the strength in my ankle to prevent the need for pins. Even though I had gained enough strength in my ankle to prevent the doctor from putting pins in it I still couldn’t walk without a limp or with enduring a fair amount of discomfort, not to mention running was out of the question.
As fate would have it, just as I was beginning to make some progress all around I suffered another serious injury. This time it was a separated left shoulder while snowboarding. To be honest I didn’t hear much of what the doctor said through the haze of the pain but I did manage to catch the part where he said I’d lose mobility and strength if left it immobile for too long.
It was about this time that a guy from work, Derek Taylor, told me about this garageÂ gym his wife, Brenda, had joined and all the crazy “stuff” they did at this gym and how she actually had a coach there the whole time while working out. I thought it sounded like what I needed and I asked if Brenda would inquire about my joining. I was disappointed to discover the gym wasn’t accepting male members at that time. Then one day Derek came into work and told me Brenda’s gym had started allowing male members. That very week I contactedÂ Nicole and began my introduction to the world of CrossFit and the community that is CrossFit SolaFide.
CrossFit SolaFide was exactly what I needed. I hadn’t truly realized just how out of shape I’d gotten until then and those first months were hard indeed. There were times, after having to run out into the grass, I felt as though I was back in basic training or Green Platoon for I wasn’t sure ifÂ Nicole was trying to see if I was willing to go all out or simply trying to kill me. During those first months it wasn’t always my stubbornness that kept me going. It was the encouragement that Nicole and the other Coaches constantly shouted to those of us doing the WOD, as well as, the other CrossFit SolaFide athletes gave, after completing the WOD, to those who had not yet finished the WOD. This was not the fake, condescending encouragement I had known while in the Army, but honest, well meaning encouragement. This encouragement helped me to push myself and complete many of the WODs those first months, even though I was usually last to finish.
I’ll never forget the time, after one of my trips to the grass, when starting the 800 meter run of my last round for the WOD that IÂ heard footsteps behind me andÂ looked back to find Â Shannon, Jared, and many others running with me. I was literally surrounded by people who were tired after having finished the WOD but wereÂ willing to runÂ with me to offer encouragement to keep going. To me that spoke volumes about the gym and the type of people that made up its membership. I can honestly say there many times I wouldnâ€™t have been able to complete the WOD if it wasnâ€™t for the encouragement I received from the coaches and the other members.
I am far from the best athlete at CrossFit SolaFide but I have come far and have learned much. Though my shoulder still poses problems it has gained and continues to gain strength; there are many things it can do now that it couldn’t before and of that I am thankful. My ankle has come a long ways as well. After more than a year of the many different strength building exercises, combined with the short runs that were often incorporated into the WODs, my ankle built up strength with rarely a setback caused by over exerting it. With the introduction of CFE at the box I have begun running more. I’ve learn much during my time at CrossFit SolaFid. I am learning not only how to listen to my body but to heed it as well and that has been one of the most difficult and maybe most important. Â Before CrossFit SolaFide I could barely manage a slow jog for about a mile before I had to stop because I could no longer feel my right leg. Now I’m up to about three miles, at a decent speed.
I never expect to be up to par with all of the EliteÂ Athletes at CrossFit SolaFide but then, that isn’t my goal. My goal is to simply be better than I am and to keep moving forward.