Morning Chalk Up Community

Gavin Young: Life of Greatness

November 20, 2023 by
Gavin Young, Photo @thephoenixclassic

A life of greatness is like an all out sprint on the Echo Bike. It’s gritty and success is not for the weak. What keeps you pushing to the end? Knowing greatness. Greatness is your superpower announcing that you are more than this mortal creature seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.

CrossFit teaches factors of fitness to improve health and longevity. It's a path of greatness. How you push yourself in the gym becomes a habit for building qualities of self-improvement that affect every aspect of your life. When you know the intense satisfaction of achievement, temporary highs become a distraction. 

When you don’t know greatness, weakness gains power over the mind. This can result in dependency upon objects outside of you for comfort. From this reliance births addiction and limiting habits.

To know greatness, cultivate qualities to perfect the mortal nature. Self-mastery brings satisfaction that no temporary pleasure can compare. Develop a support system. Your coaches and your community are your hype men. However, you must acknowledge the truth of your greatness. No one can do that for you. Wisdom comes when you trek into the darkness of your pain cave and find the light. 

Masters CrossFit athlete Gavin Young bravely entered his pain cave, fought off the demons that tormented him, and emerged victorious. He overcame addictions by prioritizing his health, developing will power, and asking for help. He now devotes his career to supporting others in their recovery. By self-correcting, Gavin Young improved the 10th factor of fitness: accuracy. He chose to live a life of greatness.

In the interview below, Gavin Young explains how CrossFit played an instrumental role in his life and inspired him to become an advocate for men’s health. 

Q: What motivated your sobriety?

The desire to live motivated my sobriety. Alcohol was something I felt I needed to function. I drank every day to self-medicate and blacked out frequently which led to dangerous situations. I got sober at age 25 when I didn’t think I was going to live to see 30 unless I made a change. After unsuccessfully trying to control my drinking on my own, I knew I needed help. I found the support I needed through a 12 step program and have been sober for 15 years.  Today, I’m a husband, father, and an active participant in my health. I owe everything to that change I made all those years ago.

Gavin Young, Photo: The Phoenix @riserecoverlive

Q: How has CrossFit impacted your life?

Ten years ago, I dropped into my first CrossFit class at CrossFit Lincoln Park in Chicago. That class changed my relationship with exercise and health. Getting introduced to the CrossFit methodology improved my sleep, energy, and overall wellness. It even guided me into my current career. After getting my L1 coaching certification, I began volunteering for a nonprofit called The Phoenix, an organization that uses movement and exercise to serve individuals in recovery from addiction. It is incredibly rewarding to play an active role in the health of other individuals. I now work at The Phoenix as the Senior Corporate Philanthropy Officer. 

Q: What is Movember and why is it important to you?

Movember is a way for men to raise awareness about health issues pertaining to testicular cancer, prostate cancer, suicide, and mental health. These are all issues that carry with them a certain amount of stigma for men to discuss. A mustache is a sign that it’s OK for men to talk about their physical and mental health. 

My movember story takes place about six years ago. I was participating in a competition at Crossfit Fairmount, where I coached. One of the events included rope climbs, a movement that requires me to wear a knee sleeve around my ankle to prevent a brush burn. I forgot a sleeve that day and ended up with a pretty nasty rope burn on my right calf. About a week or so later I noticed a bump on my right hip. I asked a couple friends of mine in the medical field, and they told me it was most likely an inflamed lymph node due to the rope burn. I got concerned when the bump was still there after another week. I made an appointment with my primary care doctor to make sure that I hadn’t given myself a hernia.

A CT scan of my abdomen was ordered. The bump on my hip was benign but the imaging revealed something else concerning. I thought the worst case scenario was a sports hernia and I’d be laid up for a month. The prognosis was worse than I had imagined. I had testicular cancer.

Emergency surgery was performed to remove the cancerous mass followed by a CT scan of the torso to see if the cancer had spread. Thankfully, the cancer was localized and found before it could spread. I spent the next five years receiving regular CT scans for surveillance to see if the cancer would return. Today, I am grateful to be cancer free.

I was very lucky. If it weren’t for that silly rope burn, my story could've easily turned out very different. If you see someone growing out their mustache, stop and ask them why. I routinely share my story with anyone to increase awareness and survival rates.

Gavin Young, Photo @thephoenixclassic

What do you want other men to know about testicular cancer?

Testicular cancer is a growth of cells in the testicles. The first sign is a bump or lump on the testicle. This cancer is most common in men between the ages of 20 to 39. It is highly treatable, especially when found early. A health screening is recommended every 3 to 5 years for men under 50 and every year for men over 50. 

Symptoms of Testicular Cancer

  • A painless lump or swelling in either testicle
  • A change in how the testicle feels
  • A dull ache in the lower abdomen (belly) or the groin (the area where the thigh meets the abdomen)
  • A sudden build-up of fluid in the scrotum
  • Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum
The Phoenix crew @riserecoverlive

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