“Let food be your medicine or medicine will be your food.”
After finishing this member profile interview, we just sort of sat in silence, amazed at everything this fitness community is doing for three generations of a family. But, that’s the current state of the story. To really understand what has happened with Mike Losey’s fitness journey, we have to go back to eight years earlier. He was sitting in line to buy three McGriddle’s and a large Coke for breakfast. 4500 calories seem like a lot for one day, but this was just his every day breakfast and he never really thought about what he put into his body or how it affected his health.
He played basketball most of his life and continued playing after college, but it was taking a toll on his body. In his thirties, he received a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis after a visit to the doctor over a nagging injury in his foot. The doctor told him a lot of things at that visit but Mike only remembers that 1.) his life expectancy was now 10 years less and that 2.) some kind of activity would help him. After this diagnosis, his interest in fitness shifted from basketball and worrying about how much he could curl in the mirror, to practicing CrossFit workouts from the main site.
Like a lot of folks, he was trying to learn these complex movements without the proper form or proper coaching. He didn’t know what he was doing, but he led a small group of colleagues in exercises after work. Eventually, he wondered if he could benefit from some coaching. He called Case at Four Barrel and told him that he was already doing CrossFit and he just wanted to come for the Saturday class and learn how to snatch the barbell. Coach Case instead suggested that Mike come by for a full class and just see how it went. On that first visit, Mike and his wife Sara, did air squats for 40 minutes before a “death-by air squat” work out. Mike says that during the entire 40-minute warm-up, he didn’t complete one correct air squat. To make things harder, he saw several women in the class moving weight that he couldn’t lift. He realized that perhaps there were some things that an experienced coach could teach him.
Mike and Sara joined CrossFit gyms, but not together. Sara went to a different gym to “save money.” Even though they were both working out it was a point of contention because they were at different gyms and going in different directions at different times. Eventually, they decided to attend Four Barrel together. Once that happened, it was only a matter time before their three boys became part of things.
Nicholas, their oldest son, began exercising at Four Barrel until he left to play basketball for a season. When the season was over, he came back to see that he had lost some strength and skill while he was away. Mike shared that it was his tendency to want to force his son to play basketball even though Nicolas wasn’t enjoying it. Mike says he grew as a dad by giving Nicholas the space to choose what activity he wanted. From there, Nicholas chose Four Barrel, and got an internship at the gym. “It has turned out to be a great first job and it’s causing Nicholas to think about the future, set goals, and consider a CrossFit certification.”
Shortly after Nicholas started, their middle son, Jacob, became interested and began to participate. The time at Four Barrel has been “helping him learn coordination and the mind-body connection in complex movements.” Mike and Sara love working out together and with their sons during partner workouts. Their youngest son, Lucas, is too young to participate in classes. However, he may be the most enthusiastic. The minute class is over, he runs out to practice different movements and work on the goals he has written on the chalkboard. Even though he’s only six, he’s learned to climb up to the 15-foot mark on the rope and he’s currently working on the goal of accumulating 1000 push-ups.
The Losey’s story gets even more interesting. Mike’s parents David and Mary Ann have also become staples of the Four Barrel community. In her youth, Mary Ann was the athletic role model for her children, since she played three varsity sports and encouraged them in athletics. But after many years of inactivity, she felt her joints and mobility were getting worse. She didn’t enjoy carrying laundry up the stairs at home. Mike says his dad, David, was on a weight roller coaster, fluctuating from 5’8” and 310 pounds to running three marathons and then being inactive. Before coming to Four Barrel, they each took several prescription medicines at breakfast; which is common for Americans in their 60s. Since they started at Four Barrel, David has stopped taking medicine for Type II diabetes and Mary Ann has the best blood markers she has had in over 20 years.
And that “heavy” 20-pound laundry basket? It’s not a problem now that they are mainstays for the Wednesday night Olympic weightlifting class and Mary Ann can deadlift 165 pounds.
It seems like seven Losey’s at Four Barrel would be enough; but they didn’t stop there. Mike’s oldest sibling, Elaine and her son Miles, started the on-ramp, beginning class. In his words, Elaine, like most folks, “was lacking variety in her training.” And, Miles is really close with his cousin Jacob, so they naturally enjoy working out together. So, what is it about this community that encourages people to stick around long enough to reverse disease, regain youth, stun doctors, and make friends?
Mike says it’s the acceptance and positive encouragement. His parents, and mother in particular, started out insecure of their fitness level. But, once Sara talked Mary Ann through the first few nights, and they met classmates, they realized everyone is just walking on the same path in pursuit of moving better, feeling better, and enjoying life. Even the Four Barrel Social Club on Facebook (which may have been started by a member to organize parties after competitions) was an important source of support and community for Mary Ann. “It was nice to hear that other people were going through the same struggles.”
Mike finished the interview by sharing how he transitioned into coaching at Four Barrel. As an educator, he has always enjoyed teaching and developing others. He didn’t want to take the Crossfit Level 1 coaching certification just to hang it on his wall. He approached Case about being a part of the coaching staff. He thought the job interview for a coaching position would cover the technical aspects of Crossfit. But, instead, the conversation revolved around helping people–the Four Barrel purpose.
The tipping point for Mike’s decision to join the coaching staff came after a fitness competition in Bloomington. Several 4B members went out to celebrate afterwards. During the meal, Mike and Case had a quiet, side conversation about Four Barrel and the “Why” that drives the business. As sincere as can be, Case shared that “all (he) ever wanted to do was to improve people’s lives.” And that was all Mike needed to hear.