Beth Henderson and the crew at Anytime Fitness have brought a fitness rebellion to St. James, personified by the man behind the revolution Joshua Cox.
Cox is from Santa Rosa, California and has been working with Anytime fitness to bring the fitness rebellion to as many cities as possible. St. James is one of only two cities outside Northern California to have the program.
The program reaches people through the heart and soul, rather than through pills or diet. The first class was lead by Cox at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday night.
"I like his approach because so many people have such a bad image of themselves, they don't even want to step into the gym," said Henderson. "Everyone's goal will be different, but it's just about feeling good."
The program is a mixture of Henderson and Cox's fitness regiment and there are 12 women and one gentleman taking part in the rebellion so far.
Cox developed the fitness rebellion program after dealing with his own struggles in weight loss and bullying.
Cox explained he was an overweight kid growing up and quickly developed an eating disorder. He would eat a lot, then throw up. He had it in his mind that the food was making him fat, so not having the food in his system would make him skinnier. It had the opposite effect and Cox continued gaining weight.
It wasn't long before he began hurting himself, cutting the inside of his legs and falling deeper into depression. He didn't have anywhere to turn and felt as though it was his own burden to bear. His depression hit its peak when he moved from middle school to high school.
"I was excited to go into high school. I thought it would be a new beginning. I got a new shirt, it had the a picture of the Pep Boys on it and said 'Pimp Boys,' in hindsight I can see why I was getting picked on," Cox laughs. "But, I was walking into the quad on campus with my new shirt feeling cool and the first thing anyone says to me is 'Nice shirt fat boy!'"
His walk home after school was on a path through a wooded area. There was a way around the area, but Cox explained he was so overweight it was a struggle for him to get home, and the added distance was not something he was willing to take on to avoid the path through the woods.
Every day after school he would walk home through the woods and about six kids would yell at him from a distance – try to get a rise out of him. At first, Cox gave in, yelling back, but eventually he learned to ignore them.
Page 2 of 3 - No longer getting the satisfaction of watching Cox react to them, the group devised a plan to catch Cox. As he walked home that day through the woods, the group intercepted him and duct taped him to some bleachers. They then tore his shirt down the middle and began jabbing him with insults.
"They said, can't ignore us now, can you fat boy," said Cox.
When they were done with him, they left him hanging there. Cox was duct-taped to the bleachers for a little over an hour before a homeless man let him down from the bleachers.
"I felt anger, hurt, frustration – then I sort of had this moment, and I realized this was the only time I was hurt that I hadn't inflicted on myself," said Cox.
He felt ashamed and embarrassed and couldn't bring himself to tell anyone. He came to a turning point where he felt he only had two options: to submit to the pain or to rise from the ashes.
"That was the day I said to myself, this is never happening to me again," said Cox.
Cox's family grew up wanting for many things, and he heard "no" a lot from his mom. He was surprised that when he asked her to sign him up for a gym membership she immediately said yes.
"She said yes right away to this one," said Cox. "I didn't tell her what had happened, and she never asked – but she knew, you know? Moms always know."
During his time in high school, Cox lost 90 lbs and grew seven inches. It was hard work, and still is hard work to this day. Cox explains he wasn't gifted with great genetics, so he has had to fight for every pound. During his time in high school, he stopped hurting himself and overcame his eating disorder. It took the full three years for him to lose the 90 lbs and following high school he wasn't sure what to do.
"I got into body building for awhile, three or four years," said Cox. "I joined a steroid free league, they had us pee in a cup before every competition. I wasn't about to hurt myself again, like I had before. But, I knew even then, that wasn't what I wanted."
Cox's goal was more than just looking good. He found he got the most enjoyment when he started helping people help themselves. Having gone through the struggle on his own, he knew how difficult it was. He wanted to be the supporting crutch for people who were struggling.
"You don't have to have your own story, like mine, to know pain," said Cox. "Everyone has a story – everyone has experienced hurt."
Cox started training a small group of five, not as a weight loss challenge, but as a transformation challenge. He was known affectionately as The Hulk, and he embraced the name. Hulk represents what you do when you get stuck between a rock and a hard place. We all get stuck, but hulk smashes his way out.
Page 3 of 3 - The program isn't about Cox or his struggle, he explains he is just an ambassador of the people – lost in a sea of awesome people doing awesome things. Through positive reinforcement, the group changes their outlook on life. They come together and work through their dark days. It is different than a regular workout program because the program focuses on the strongest muscles first, and works to weaker muscles. It's not about bulking up, or trimming down, but being comfortable with who you are, where your going and living every day without a negative self-image.
Cox finished his story with a fire in his eye. Saying, "nobody knows I'm coming but me."