Gabe Fernandes

In my younger days, I was the geek in high school who was more interested in getting good grades, tutoring and helping others, and playing video games...(wait a minute, not a lot has changed). Anyway, I wasn't very athletic in high school, I believe the word was "husky" at the time, and needed a change. I decided to join the Army to serve my country, as my dad did for his country, and honestly, to get into better physical shape.

Army was one of the most challenging experiences of my young adult life, I just didn't know it also test me mentally. One of the biggest challenges arrived on the last day of PT tests. Eight weeks of Boot Camp had gone by and I STILL couldn't do 32 push ups within 2 minutes. I knew if I failed,  I would be re-cycled and have to go through the 8 weeks all over again. As my name got called, thoughts of my family and friends raced through my mind, but then I focused on what was in front of me. Within a minute and 30 seconds, hearing the drill sergeant call 31 was a great feeling. With 30 seconds left, I went down for the final push up but found that my arms couldn't push back up. As I was fighting as hard as I could, I heard my soldier brothers cheering me on. I was determined not to give up with my chest holding an inch off the ground. Time expired, the whistle blew, my chest hit the ground, and I never made it back up, but then heard a voice say, "32". Looking up at the drill sergeant in disbelief, he said, "Good job Private, you didn't quit and showed heart...32."

Time passes by quickly and trying to stay in shape with no motivation is difficult. I tried different gyms and workouts with the same result...feeling bored by your typical environment  and stale workouts. I was talking about it with my life-long friend (Aura). I've heard her talk about 212 on many occasions before and she had been trying to get me to join her at 212. Previous conversations were met with acknowledgement and no action, but this final conversation was different.

Today I realize there are two things within my control: my attitude and my effort. It is my choice to get out of bed when it's dark and cold out (especially below freezing). It is my choice to get to 212 when my body aches from the prior day's workout. It's easier to stay in be make up excuses not to go. It's on me and no one else to put in the effort. This quote may be overused, but it still gets me going, "If it was easy, everyone would do it."

Boot Camp was over 20 years ago and yet 212 has given me something very familiar: putting in the hard work for results, reestablishing confidence, and having that bond with fellow 212ers which allows us to push and support each other. The entire 212 staff has helped me in one form or another. Whether I needed that extra motivational push, reminder of proper form, or providing counsel and rehab through random injuries, they have been an integral part to my physical and mental well-being. I'm very grateful for it and extremely proud to be part of the 212 family. 

212 has come to be my new "32".