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Nick Reyes


May 5, 2023

Pain Killers, Back Surgery, and Finding Salvation

“Stop working out, or we’ll have to operate”. I remember the words like it was yesterday.“I can write you a script to help with the pain, but that’s it until we get in there and fix it”.

As a 23 year old Marine who followed orders well, I listened to this civilian physiotherapist and quit lifting. At the time I wasn’t doing anything crazy due to immense back pain; just running and your typical body builder type lifting days at the gym.

What followed was an increase from 150 lbs to 175 lbs, and 3 sleepless nights a week grew to 7 unless of course I took a pill.

While Cameron and I lived in Phoenix I decided I was tired of my weight gain and done with feeling miserable. Starting in our apartment gym I began to lift again, then picked up a gym membership.

Multiple times I experienced tingling in my fingers, or my arm would go completely numb. I was so scared of making my back worse I never did squats or deadlifts, and all lifts I did were a seated or supported variety. I shed some weight and was in an okay place upon moving back to KC where I kept this routine for a few years but I loathed it.

I wasn’t even 30 yet, and I felt trapped and limited by my body. One day Cameron tells me that a family friend is opening a CrossFit gym and that I should try it out.

I sat on the info for a while for many reasons.

Scared of injury, new people who hadn’t seen me in pain, ego. Ego was the big one. I had been one of the fastest Marines in the Corps, and had numerous sub 18 min 5k’s along with perfect PFT’s (physical fitness test); but I felt like I was a shadow of my former self.

When I mustered up the courage to reach out via FB Message, TJ replied with excitement.

Knowing TJ like I do now it all makes sense since that’s exactly who he is. I walked in and felt at ease until I had to squat, deadlift, and pretty much do every movement I had spent years avoiding.

I started light, I was meticulous about movement, and each day I left my ego in the car while I went into the gym and tried my best to listen and be coachable. The personalities were great, Anthony, Kyla, Jeff, and many more helped make things fun, and we all ate our humble pie each day.3 months in I slept through the night without a pain pill, and I never looked back.

Today I’m one of the strongest pound for pound lifters in the gym. Driven by the memory of having the gym taken from me, but the fear of back pain is long gone. The journey to overcome that hesitancy has been rocky, and filled with emotion.

Every coach at KSAC has helped me in countless ways, whether through addressing poor movement, to improving mindset, to pushing me when I needed it. When presented with the opportunity to invest and become an owner in the gym I pounced immediately. I made it my mission to help make our walls a safe space for anyone in need of healing like I was when I first walked in.

I’m proud of what we’ve built and honored to have had the opportunity to be a positive force in so many lives. In my heart I don’t believe there’s a better team of coaches in the area, because I know first hand how hard they work, how much they care, and how much they sacrifice.I can’t imagine my physical and mental state if I never started training at KSAC. I can’t imagine it without each of you being there. The smiles, fist bumps, triumphs, and even the failures are all fuel for the engine.

They are my visual proof that what we do works and that sometimes despite our best efforts we have to rework a plan.My parting piece of advice to those of you still reading, is to never get complacent and don’t give up. Settling for less than you are capable of opens the door to mediocrity and failure. Where you’re at on the health and wellness spectrum will change over time but the more days you introduce complacency the closer to mediocrity and failure you become.

We’ll fight alongside you, I promise.

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KS Athletic Club



KS Athletic Club



KS Athletic Club