Andrew’s Then and Now
Please meet my friend Andrew. His story goes way deeper than what has happened to his muscles. And on the heels of a huge loss in our community last week, his words were especially powerful to read.
“Hi there. My name is Andrew Marshala, and that picture, the one with messy hair, sleepless, lifeless eyes, county oranges falling off of my 135 lb body, from July 2016, is really me. WAS really me. I’ve suffered from addiction/alcoholism since my late teens. I have a long history of trying to fill a hole in my life, in my spirit, without guidance. A long history of sobering up for a little while, but, unable to see the point, quickly going back to what I know. Filling that hole with drugs and alcohol, and mountains of bad decisions. December 2014 through January 2017 were my darkest years to date, and saw me doing things I never could’ve foreseen. Living a life (if you can call it that) that I said I’d never live. Living in my Suburban, robbing stores, people, family, to get what I “needed”. Trying to fill that ever deepening hole inside me. January 28, 2017, while facing multiple felonies and 8 years in prison, I finally decided enough was enough, and checked into an out patient rehab. On February 17, 2017 I began my journey out of that hole, and became willing to learn of healthy ways to fill my soul.
Immediately I started trying to get my physical self healthy. Started doing pushups and crunches and pullups every day. I loved what I was getting. Positive endorphins flowing, putting weight on, I decided at least for now, physical fitness is going to be a big part of my recovery. “You can do this, you’ve been ‘healthy’ before, you’ve been sober before”, I told myself. The picture with my daughter from July 2014 proves that. 6 months sober, working out occasionally, healthy(ish), happy (for the most part). But doing body weight exercises gets old after awhile. I need more intensity in my workouts, more exercise options. I ended up hooking up with some new friends, some of whom had the same idea about health and fitness I had, as well as a gym membership with a free guest pass, which I used as often as possible, and in June 2017 I finally got my own membership at 10gym.
Armed with only a very basic knowledge of how to shape and mold my body, a lot of days were pretty frustrating. Between having to come up with my own “programming”, and not really seeing the results I wanted/expected anymore, I had plateaued. I became bored and complacent with my routine, and began falling out of it. I was still going to gym, though not as often, and was starting to lose my ambition. By this point I was YouTubing new ideas, and had even become bored with these. What was once my place of peace and realignment: sweating it out, by myself, with my headphones in, for an hour and a half to two hours, was quickly becoming my downfall. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I wanted something different, something more. I had mentioned something to that affect to my good friend Kirk, and he invited me to join his sweat sessions at his home, where I was introduced to HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). “Holy hell, this is what I’ve been craving”, I thought. It was hot, and it was hard, but it felt soooo goooood! Unfortunately, our schedules rarely lined up, so most of the time I was left to my own devices again, back to boring old 10gym. Then one day in January 2018, our schedules aligned, and Kirk took me to Tribe. He introduced me to Chelsea at my first 5:30 class, where I learned what a pull under was, and how to do it properly. She told me I moved well, and even though I didn’t put a single extra pound on the barbell, that gave me a mountain of confidence. During that class, I looked around. I saw 10 or 12 people, working together, to achieve a common goal, something I’d grown accustomed to with some several months attending 12 step meetings. A group of people working together to better themselves. “THIS is what I’ve been missing!”
It was maybe a week after my first Tribe class when Kirk invited me back up there, this time introducing me to Tiffany, who, after class, made it a point to make sure I was going to come back. “Absolutely, yes I’ll be back!”, and I’ve made it my mission to attend as many classes that I can. Through Tribe I get something I never ever knew I even needed. It’s not just about making myself look better, although the most recent photo listed here, taken from the men’s locker room will definitely prove that this place will accomplish that, but Tribe makes an ENORMOUS deposit, if you will, into that God sized hole every single day. I have experienced an overwhelming sense of community here, and THAT, my friends, is where I find purpose in my life. Connecting with others. Building lasting relationships.
When I got started here I had to learn to check my damn ego at the door, learn to do the movements safely and correctly before adding weight. Trust the process. It was frustrating for awhile, “why can’t I add weight yet?”, “I should be able to do this”, etc, etc. I just kept showing up, and I continue to push myself as hard as I can. Turns out, these coaches know their shit. Since starting in January I’ve added 140 lbs to my deadlift (415), 65 lbs to my back squat (275), and 40 lbs to my bench press (200). I had never in my life attempted a power clean, or a jerk of any kind, and yesterday succeeded at putting 200 lbs over my head. I never thought I’d ever have an interest in entering a lifting competition, but in June, in the spirit of charity, I entered our in-house event Lift for Love, and friggin won the deadlift competition. I’m tooting my own horn a bit, but none of the numbers I just mentioned would’ve been possible if I was still trying to do this by myself.
Tribe is so much more than a gym to me. It has become my extended family, and I f***ing love this place. It’s in the name: Tribe-a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture (bettering ourselves) and dialect (pickin’ heavy stuff up and puttin’ it back down).
I’m doing better than I’ve ever done, but the best yet is still to come.”