IAACT ATHLETE NATHAN GAGNON
THIS IS MY STORY
Nate was born one month premature and during the resulting difficult birth experienced shoulder dystocia and a brachial plexus injury on his right arm. In the immediate aftermath, Nate’s right arm was paralyzed. After some concentrated physical therapy, he regained limited mobility and range of motion in that arm. Growing up, Nate played every sport that came his way, including soccer, baseball, football, track, golf, and basketball, never looking at his arm as a prohibitive “disability,” but a part of life to adapt to. As a teen, Nate was introduced to drugs and alcohol, which would prove to be the start of a long dark path. By his mid-twenties, Nate was a chronic alcoholic and feeling hopeless. Luckily, through the support of friends and family, Nate found recovery on August 31, 2010. After two years of sobriety, a friend in recovery introduced Nate to CrossFit and his life was changed. The olympic lifts and gymnastics utilized in CrossFit presented a new challenge for Nate’s Brachial Plexus/Erb’s Palsy arm. Early on, Nate thought that the sport of fitness might not be possible for him. However, two months into his CrossFit journey he was encouraged by the coaching staff at Reebok CrossFit Back Bay to compete in the CrossFit Open and he was able to complete all the workouts as prescribed. It was his first time performing many of the movements and he was driven to see just how far he could push the possibilities for himself. Three years later, Nate is a member of the Reebok CrossFit Back Bay Competition Team, competes in local competitions, organized an Adaptive Athlete event for last years CrossFit Open, and holds his L1 Coaching Certificate. In addition, Nate has been volunteering as a CrossFit coach for Phoenix Multisport/Per Ignum CrossFit, a nonprofit organization that provides free fitness programs to individuals in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction with 48 hours of sobriety. His mission as an adaptive athlete is to help show that despite what obstacles may be in a person’s way, life’s possibilities can be constantly expanded by pushing your own boundaries.
MUST KNOW INFORMATION
I have always been a mission driven person and have the personal mission of simply helping as many people improve their lives in any way I can. Currently, I work in higher education helping people advance and better themselves through education. Conversely, as an alcoholic in long term recovery and adaptive athlete, I am in a unique position to use my own personal experiences to have a profound impact on helping others who have gone through similar struggles to myself. In the next year, what I would like to accomplish is bringing my message of overcoming adversity to more people. I hope to do this by expanding my presence on social media, in blogs, podcasts, and videos.
Over the past three years I have progressively become more active in my communities. I have been active in the recovery community in Boston (anonymously) for 5 years. Since starting Crossfit, I have gotten more and more involved in many aspects. In the last year, I got my L1 certificate, organized an Adaptive CrossFit Open event with video production, began coaching Crossfit with people in recovery for Phoenix Multisport, joined the Reebok CrossFit Back Bay competition team, and signed up for a large local CrossFit competition in the RX division.
The most important thing I have learned in my adaptive journey so far is the importance of taking initiative and putting yourself out there, often overcoming fear. I got in touch with I Am Adaptive and Phoenix Multisport by simply sending an email and saying I want to be involved. I joined the RCFBB competition team by putting myself out there and quite honestly conquering the self-conscious fear that I had of working out with such high level athletes. When I got over that fear, I was able to take my training to the next level.