Health & Wellness

Colorado Health & Wellness | Spring 2016

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Health and Wellness Magazine • 33 Life-Changing Moment It was just before 1 p.m. at the OC Throwdown in Orange County, Calif., when Ogar took to the floor before a thousand cheering fans, his family looking on back home via live web-streaming. That morning, as part of the multi-stage fitness competition (not an officially sanctioned CrossFit competition) he had raced three miles, carrying two 70-pound kettle bells for mile 1, one for mile 2, and none for mile 3. He rested, then did a few warm-up lifts back stage. His next event was the snatch – an explosive move in which competitors hoist the barbell from the ground to above their head. The 235 pounds was far less than his personal record of 300 pounds. He assumed the $10,000 cash prize was in the bag. But something went wrong before Ogar could finish the move. Rather than ditch the bar, get out of the way, and start over as he'd intended, he felt it glance across the top of his back. That alone didn't hurt him, he believes. In power-lifting, it's not uncommon for a bar to glance off a competitor's back. Instead, he says, the barbell bounced off weights stacked directly behind him and hit him again with brutal force lower down on his spine. "It was like having every nerve in your body on fire." Ogar contends that had those weights not been there (a strong no-no by CrossFit safety standards), he wouldn't be in a wheelchair. Event organizers, who could not be reached for comment, have maintained in the past that "proper safety precautions were taken." The matter will likely be settled in court. For now, Ogar prefers to focus on what happened after his injury as a testament to what CrossFit is truly about. As he lay in a California hospital bed with an 18-percent chance of survival, his CrossFit community mobilized, flooding him with cards and letters, setting up a website, and raising a quarter-million dollars for medical bills within a week. (Ogar had no insurance). As doctors rebuilt his spinal column, they credited his fitness- induced high red-blood-cell count for helping him pull through surgeries. If his back muscles hadn't been so developed, they told him, the accident would have likely killed him. Rebuilding Strength During his six weeks at Craig Rehabilitation Hospital in Denver, Ogar turned to CrossFit to help him regain his strength, physically and mentally. "In CrossFit, challenge is perceived as something you want to do, not something you shy away from. The mental toughness gained can help you through tough times," he says. Veteran U.S. Marine Ryan Foster, 34, agrees. After two tours in Iraq, where he suffered a traumatic brain injury, hearing loss, and neck damage during a Humvee explosion, he battled post- traumatic stress disorder, drank to excess daily, and lived on a steady diet of fast food. "I was struggling to find my purpose," Foster says. He met Ogar at a CrossFit gym in 2009 and credits him with helping him turn his life around. "He was an unbelievable coach and had a huge heart," Foster recalls. For years, the two kicked around the idea of forming a nonprofit that would help restore vets to health via CrossFit. Once Ogar got hurt, the effort stalled. But in July, their Reveille Project was born, offering free, one-year CrossFit memberships, plus nutritional, psychological and spiritual support, to veterans. Ogar could not be a more fitting coach, Foster says. "We all go through different traumatic things in life, and we think, 'This is it. I am never going to be the same again.' He shows that you can still do amazing things. Life doesn't stop." For more information, log onto "It was like having every nerve in your body on fire." Ryan Foster (left) and Kevin Ogar (right) started The Reveille Project at CrossFit Watchtower in Centennial. The nonprofit is dedicated to the holistic restoration process for veterans through physical training, nutritional education, and spiritual wellness – all in a supportive social environment.

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