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Inspire Cafe Podcast with guest Coach Lorenzo!

It’s a pleasure to announce the official launch of The Inspire Café!

The Inspire Café is a podcast where people share their inspirational stories of overcoming adversity, and then emerging transformed with a positive outlook or outcome.

So if you’re looking to hear stories of overcoming challenges or setbacks yet still have a positive attitude, then this podcast is for you!

Here’s a snapshot of what’s included….

Episode 001 is with guest Carl Carter, Jr, who talks about how he’s dealt with the murder of his mother last year, who was killed while working as a real estate agent, and how now he’s traveling around the country advocating safety education in the industry.

In Episode 002, guest Lorenzo Hernandez shares his story of how he became inspired to become a CrossFit coach while serving a prison sentence, and then eventually started an adaptive training program and a nonprofit to financially assist those who need access to physical training.

Please share this post to help spread and share another source of good news and inspiration.

If you like what you hear so far, please subscribe, rate and review.

Thank you, and we hope you enjoy The Inspire Café!

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Bionic suit allows paralyzed Santa Fe man to walk again

 

The moment a robotic exoskeleton hoisted Xavier Prater Horan into a standing position Monday afternoon at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center was one he had long awaited.

“All right, I’m ready,” he had told a team of physical therapists, family members and friends a few minutes earlier, after he was strapped snugly in the device, in a seated position. “It’s a little nerve-wracking with all you people around,” he joked.

There were a few false starts and some fine-tuning of the exoskeleton — what Horan, 33, called “a giant robot computer that’s reading my body.” Horan had suffered a spinal cord injury in a car crash in 1999, when he was a 16-year-old student at St. Michael’s High School, and was paralyzed from the chest down. With this device, he was going to walk.

One more try, and he was standing, with two crutches for support. He was sweating a little, but he was calm.

Emotion was palpable in the eyes of his mother, Kristena Prater, and his sister, Jasmine Martinez.

“How are you feeling?” asked Andy McCord of ReWalk Robotics, who was helping with the demonstration, which was part of a training session for two physical therapists at the hospital, Katie Edmiston and Stuart Carruthers.

“Good,” Horan said. And then he was walking down the hall, almost too quickly for loved ones and medical staff to keep up.

Considering it had been almost a year since Horan had walked in such a device, McCord said, “He is rocking it.”

The bionic suit had been sitting in a box in Horan’s garage for a month, waiting to be assembled. With help from the California-based Shoong Foundation right before Christmas, he was able to purchase the $80,000 device. And on Sunday evening, while they watched the Denver Broncos defeat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 in a room at the Hotel Santa Fe, Horan and his father, Kevin Horan, and McCord began building the machine.

Horan is only the second New Mexico resident to own a ReWalk exoskeleton, a fairly new technology that gained Food and Drug Administration approval in June 2014. Former Albuquerque Police Officer Jeremy Romero, injured on the job during a police-chase crash, was the first to have one in the state. Romero took his first steps in the machine last year.

Rosemary Shoong, who oversees the Shoong Foundation, was at the hospital Monday, watching Horan get outfitted in his new bionic suit. She had long been acquainted with his family through the Tessa Horan Foundation, run by Horan’s mother in honor of Horan’s sister Tessa, who died in 2006 from a shark attack while serving in the Peace Corps in Tonga. Monday’s event at Christus St. Vincent was her dream, Shoong said. She wasn’t being figurative.

“I woke up from a dream and saw him walking,” she said of Xavier Horan, and she immediately set out to ensure he had the means to get a ReWalk device.

Shoong, who now splits her time between Santa Fe and Nevada, sees the city as a potential destination where people with spinal cord injuries can come to find therapy and a sense of community. “It’s an isolating thing when you have an injury,” she said.

Horan shares her vision. He’s excited to have his own bionic device, but he also wants others with paraplegia to benefit from the technology. He’s working to raise awareness about the exoskeleton as a physical therapy tool for people with injuries like his, and he’s paired up with a friend from his high school days, CrossFit trainer Lorenzo Hernandez, to start a nonprofit to help people with a range of disabilities get fit.

Movement Unlimited, now based at Undisputed Fitness in the Railyard, will demonstrate the exoskeleton, along with several other high-tech strength-training devices, during a fundraiser Tuesday at the Hotel Santa Fe.

For Horan, Tuesday’s event is predominantly a chance to get the word out about the importance of moving. He touted the benefits of movement for people with spinal cord injuries: controlling weight, preventing muscle atrophy; improving blood circulation and digestion; and boosting confidence, mood and motivation.

“I need more than just physical therapy,” he said. “I want to sweat.”

“Going to the gym is kind of scary,” he added. “It’s intimidating for anybody — whether you’re skinny or fat or in a chair.”

He hopes Tuesday’s event will ease some of that fear for those who could benefit from Movement Unlimited’s technology, which he said is for “anyone who’s 7 to 97.”

One 7-year-old has indeed taken an interest. In March 2015, Valentino Rivera, then 6, suffered a spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury in a car crash in Española. His father, former Pojoaque Pueblo Gov. George Rivera, described his condition as incomplete quadriplegia. Valentino is regaining some feeling in all parts of his body, Rivera said, and he can take steps now, with help.

But it’s been tough for the boy, who was an athlete, a dancer and a straight-A student, Rivera said.

He said his son was a Pueblo hoop dancer and had begun to study hip-hop. “His dream is to dance again,” Rivera said.

Recently, the family met Horan, and they were encouraged by the program he and Hernandez are creating. They’ll be at Tuesday’s fundraiser, helping to demonstrate some of Movement Unlimited’s devices, though Valentino is too young to test-drive a ReWalk exoskeleton.

Horan recalled his first time walking in a similar device in September 2014 in San Francisco.

“It was scary,” he said. At 6-foot-3 and accustomed to sitting in a wheelchair for nearly 17 years, he said, he realized as he was standing in the bionic suit that it’s “a lot farther to fall down.”

Horan was never one to back down from a challenge. As a teen, he was an athlete. He played soccer and was into extreme skiing. Not long after his crash, he was determined to get back on the slopes through an adaptive ski program.

After he graduated from St. Michael’s High, Horan headed to California to pursue a career in the film industry and music production. He attended Santa Barbara City College and the University of California, Santa Barbara, and began working in sound. He started at the bottom — in the mail room — he said, but eventually worked his way into a sound editing job, which he held for 10 years.

He also took up adaptive surfing.

But two years ago, a surfing injury that led to a life-threatening bone infection forced him to halt his career and return to Santa Fe, where he has been recovering. Though he hasn’t been able to work, Horan hasn’t remained idle.

He reached out to Hernandez, 35, who had spent some time in prison after getting mixed up in the area’s drug culture. “He had been bedridden,” Hernandez said of Horan. “He saw I had changed my life, and he hoped I could help change his. … I was honored that he reached out to me.”

To get ready for the ReWalk robot, Horan had to get strong. Hernandez, who had no prior experience with paraplegic athletes, spent some time in a wheelchair, learning about the abilities of paraplegics and what they experience, and fine-tuning a workout program.

Now he’s got a whole class of “wheelchair athletes” — including Grey Debella, who has taken adaptive CrossFit to a competitive level. And through Movement Unlimited, Hernandez hopes to help more.

Frankie Tenorio, 24, might be one of them. He just moved to Santa Fe on Friday from Lake Tahoe, Calif., so he could be a part of the community that Horan, Hernandez and others are building. He also received an exoskeleton from the Shoong Foundation, and he’s hoping to start using it in about a month.

“I’m excited to see this robotics in action,” he said Monday, during Horan’s demonstration of the ReWalk machine. “I can’t wait to get in one myself.”


Today I am Me Part 2 – By Lorenzo Hernandez

So it began…I went in and started to figure out my daily routine. I figured out the lay of the land and began my WODs at the weight pile. The looks and questions I got from other inmates were wild, and I think a lot of people were actually concerned for me. It was quite funny. Eventually, other inmates came right out and asked me “What the hell are you doing?!” I explained what CrossFit was and the methodology behind it.

As interest started to grow, I began teaching a few guys what I had learned at CrossFit Santa Fe. Interest grew and grew as the word spread, by the end of my first year in, I had 2 classes at Englewood FCI in Denver totaling about 14 men.

The thing is, I had never really taught anything before. I mean, I had taught a few snowboarding lessons when I was younger, but that was nothing like trying to get structure and keep a bunch of imprisoned men engaged. But I said “Fuck it,” and took the leap. I read, studied, and then read some more about the different movements from my coaches at CrossFit Santa Fe and CrossFit Journal.

I was constantly tracking the programs I would set up for the classes, and the progress the different inmates were making. We didn’t have bumper plates, med balls, rings or anything to the degree of what you have out in the real world. But we improvised and made it work.

By the time I left in May of 2012, I had the whole yard stoked to watch us work out and even more people interested in trying. I got moved to another prison in Florence, Colorado. Needless to say, I started another crew and it blew up beyond belief. At one point I had about 30 men trying CrossFit.

We had a tradition: when a buddy would be getting released, we would make a hero WOD for them. This way they would be sent off sore and remembering what they spent their last moments confined doing. Hopefully, this would remind them of the focus and drive they had to be better on the inside, which would then translate to their new lives on the outside.

I sit here now and think about the impact I’ve made on the inmates I came into contact with. I created a sense of community, and not to say that community wasn’t already present in a house of confinement, but I gave these men something more to look forward to. Life is so redundant in all of those places. You literally remember the day you walked in and the day you walked out. Everything in between meshes into one. Nothing really ever changes… faces may, but life as a whole stays the same.

The friends of mine who made it through my brutal WODs and long monotonous days are still to this day doing CrossFit, whether it be at home or in prison. My programs are still being used in the 3 prisons I was in. In order to have an actual functional fitness-type program introduced into prisons would be a long, grueling, government process that at the moment isn’t realistic. But the men I left my programing with still use it to this day. I am in contact with them on a regular basis and help to keep them motivated. In turn, they help to keep me in the present moment and remind me to never forget where I came from, as well as how long it took me to get to where I am today.

Today I am me, the real me, the athlete I always knew was inside. Today is not a day to waste. Today I will be better than I was yesterday. I will strive to make a difference in someone’s life every opportunity I can.

My dream and passion is to continue to bring smiles to peoples’ faces and to see that light in their eyes when they achieve something they never knew was possible. My heart thrives on becoming stronger, faster and pushing my limits on all my dreams and goals. CrossFit changed my life and I am grateful to have been able to pass this gift on to others in need of a community. One day I will run into these men and be able to witness their successes. It will be one of the most rewarding feelings ever to know that I have been a part of their journey to becoming better individuals, as they did the same for me.


Today I am Me Part 1 – By Lorenzo Hernandez

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Sometimes life knocks you in the head so much that you finally stop and listen. This is the story of how I got here today.  I grew up in Santa Fe, tried to finish school, but in the end was your average high school drop out at the ripe age of 16.  I dabbled in sports during some of my earlier years but never pushed myself to my fullest abilities. I had no drive and no ambition to better myself.

Therefore, it’s no surprise my choices never led me back to school. Instead, it started me on my long string of dead-end jobs that supported my “I don’t give a fuck” attitude.  I had no real goal, I just wanted to be the “cool” kid… the kid that everyone would go to… for something… anything really.  I was hungry for attention, so eventually going to social hangouts and outdoor parties peeked my interest. I was finally good at something: socializing. At least good enough to get the attention I desired.

The local fame was so good it carried on into my adulthood. I knew the whole town, I knew all the ins and outs of everybody and was constantly surrounded by impulse and selfishness… and I was directly in the center of it all. It was just the attention I had always longed for. But there was more to be had.  So I crossed the line of the law and started pushing small weight around town.

Lightweight eventually turned to heavy weight. My successes moved me from Santa Fe to Austin where the lavish lifestyle followed suit.  My life was a 24-7 party which had no end in sight.  Silly me… January 9th, 2009, you could say shit got real.  That night, a very large package made it into the wrong hands: Those of the Texas Drug Task Force. That’s when the Federal Indictment started to slowly build upon me and my partners.

I left Austin for San Diego in February of 2009 thinking I could fly under the radar, and just maybe the Texas DEA would move on. But I was already in over my head, I was just too blind to see it.  Even still, my brush with the law was the wake up call I never saw coming.  The one you can’t  set your alarm for. I left the drug hole I was in, started to slow down on the booze and work a normal job. I began surfing and was enjoying life more than I ever had before. I was grateful for every little thing, and compared to the lifestyle I had just left, it was very little.  But I was happy and I hadn’t felt like that in who knows how long.  I was excited about getting healthy.  Deep down inside I always knew I was a different man, I had just kept making the wrong choices and it had been leading me further and further away from the real me.

In November of ‘09 I was introduced to CrossFit at US CrossFit in Encinitas, CA.  My first thought was “Meh, this looks boring…” as I was already very experienced in traditional lifting.   But I said “Fuck it,” and went to a class.  I believe the first exercise we learned was the damn burpee!  We ran a mile to the beach, made lines in the sand 25 meters apart, ran back and forth and did 10 burpees for 20 minutes.  I was instantly hooked.

You know sometimes when you’re going about your life and you start to daydream, you kind of wander off into visions of the future and different ideas or such?  Well I would,  and for some crazy reason I couldn’t see anything past the day that just happened. Just blank and desolate.  Being that present was amazing but I knew something was missing… or coming.

On June 28th, 2010 that blank desolate space from TX came smashing through my door looking for me.  That was the day everything became very fucking clear.  I was going to prison for 60 months.  I spent the next 3 months in different facilities until I got bonded out and moved back to Santa Fe.  I immediately ran into my dear friend, Tait  Fletcher, and he offered to let me train at CrossFit Santa Fe until I had to turn myself in.  So for the next 3 months I trained hard and heavy.  I loved every minute of it. It helped me stay in the present moment and kept my mind off the inevitable near future.

When you’re driving yourself to a 60 month sentence, the feeling really doesn’t register. I knew I was leaving my family, my loved ones, and my life, but I had to keep myself centered. I had to keep myself strong because the look on a mother’s face had wounded my heart deeply and I knew I had to make things right.  My choice was to make a difference in my life and those around me.  My desire was to be the man I knew I was deep down.

Stay tuned to see what a remarkable difference Lorenzo was able to make in his life and the lives of others through a little thing called CrossFit…

Lorenzo perfectly illustrates that CrossFit is not just a workout, but a community, a source of inspiration, and a way of life.

Please share with us and Lorenzo your thoughts and comments below, and look for part two this Thursday.


Get Serious About Your Health with the Help of Santa Fe’s Undisputed Fitness

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-10-09-31-amWith a range of fitness classes like 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu, Cardio Kickboxing, Self Defense, Strongman, CrossFit, and Undisputedly Fit (an express bootcamp class) and a serious attitude to health and fitness, Undisputed might come across as an intimidating gym. But in fact the coaches are professional and down to earth, and members are both committed and welcoming. For both long-term members and visitors who stop by for a single class, Undisputed has become known as the place to go for a workout in Santa Fe.

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Free Introductory CrossFit Santa Fe and 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu Classes!

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