One of the first times I worked out with Christian Morgan he ran so fast I thought he was joking. As if he were just trying to win the first round of the workout and there was no way he could run at the pace throughout.
I was wrong. He is fast.
Grandma & Grandpa, I have a confession . . . I’m a runner!
“I’d always lie to my grandparents, saying I was at a friends,” Christian told me when we sat down to talk. “I knew they wouldn’t want me to go to the track alone.”
Christian grew up in Marion just down the street from the track at Indiana Wesleyan University. He’d sneak over when he was in 6th grade.
“I was really chunky. I just decided if I’m going to feel good about myself, I need to take initiative and start doing something. I didn’t have any exercise equipment at my house, so instead of playing video games after school, I would go run a mile every day. I started to see a little change in myself.”
Christian’s mom had him when she was really young and gave up custody to his grandparents who raised him.
“After a few years, I was running two to three miles a day. I was losing weight, looking better and feeling better about myself. So in high school, my grandparents noticed and asked what I was doing. ‘Oh I kind of have been running.’ So my grandma started buying me exercise equipment. She bought me a Bowflex, stuff off the TV. She would watch infomercials and buy me random stuff like Six Second Abs. The Bowflex . . . I used a lot. Grandma bought me a weight bench. I cleared out the garage and we made that into a mini gym. I’d be out there for hours. But I always had to do my homework first.”
Imagine for a moment Christian’s grandma, sitting in the living room, seeing a commercial for an As Seen on TV exercise product, and ordering it for her grandson. She bought him a Bowflex! How sweet is that? No one in Christian’s family was into sports, but, by God, was she going to support her grandson.
“My grandparents never ran, but they always wanted me to,” Christian said.
With the support of his grandparents and his daily commitment to running, Christian was able to run a mile in five-and-a-half minutes when he was in high school.
“I couldn’t look at myself in a mirror.”
When he was 17, his grandma passed away and his grandpa was too sick to look after him, so he moved in with his mom for a bit. That didn’t go the best. They got along better when they weren’t living together. As classes got harder in high school, Christian stopped focusing on working out.
“I gained a lot of weight.”
At 19, he followed a relationship from Marion to Muncie.
“By the time I moved to Muncie, I was back to the 200’s. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to do something about this.’ I started working out again. I did Insanity when I was 21 for six months. I have pictures of my transformation. I got to the weight I wanted to be at and just stopped. Then I gained weight again.”
Christian has an uncanny ability to gain and lose weight. At his heaviest, he weighed 280. Then he yo-yoed through the years–215, 250, 195.
“I got to a point where I couldn’t even look in a mirror. When I was 21, I was so big, I didn’t want to leave the house. I would go to work, come home, and not want to do anything. I would sit on the couch all night and watch TV. I got really depressed. I was like, ‘I want more out of life than this.’ I was embarrassed to even be seen in public. I’ve always been a really outgoing, fun-to-hang-out-with person, but I just lost it because of the way I looked. That’s just how it was every time I gained weight. I lost a few friends over it because I just didn’t want to do anything. A lot of them moved on, started making other friends.”
With Applebuddies like this, who need Friendly’s?
Christian met Muncie CrossFit coach Sam Jones while they both were working at Applebee’s. Sam has converted a lot of her “Applebuddies” to CrossFit.
“Sam literally slapped fries out of my hand,” Christian said and I totally, 100% believed him. “She was a big motivational person for me from the beginning. We went grocery shopping together. Afterward she wrote out a meal plan. She was just like, ‘Follow this. If you need help, let me know.’ I was hardcore on that for about three months, and I was losing weight like crazy. From March until August, I lost like 30 lbs. I was at 220 when I started at The Arsenal in August. I weigh 175-185 now.”
Before Applebee’s, Christian had worked at the following places: McDonald’s, Mo’s, LifeTouch, and Walgreen’s. He supported himself. When he turned 24, he was finally able to apply for financial aid on his own without a parent co-signing. He immediately enrolled at Ivy Tech and now goes to Ball State. He has a student membership at Muncie CrossFit, but he still has to prioritize and sacrifice time and money to afford it. When I chatted with him his car had recently broken down, which meant he had to dip into his grocery budget. To compensate, he took advantage of the manager meals at Applebee’s.
I’ve been going to Muncie CrossFit for almost four years and I’ve known folks who’ve quit because they looked at their budget and CrossFit seemed like a luxury they couldn’t afford through tight times. But for Christian, it seems that CrossFit is something he can’t afford to lose.
“If I’m determined to do something, I do it. I have a lot more confidence. Before, I didn’t feel like I was going anywhere. I know what I want now. I’m more focused, and I know how I want to look, I want to be healthy. I just want to feel good about myself. I’m not perfect, I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m getting there.”