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Athlete of the Month: Dan Winters

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Our Male Athlete of the Month for August is Dan Winters.  Dan is one of the most energetic, high-fiving, friendly guys you will meet at CFPB.  We chose Dan for this month’s honor because he truly makes every class better that he is a part of.  When you’re around him, you can feel his love for life and his care for others.  He lives with abundant gratitude and a strong faith in God.  Dan’s positive perspective comes from years of struggle.  Since the age of 21, Dan was in and out of jail and battled drug and opiate addiction.  While in a work-release program after a three-year prison sentence, he nearly died from a heroine overdose in December of 2017.  In February of 2018, he joined his wife Cristy at CrossFit Palm Beach who had been coming since September 2016. Together they’ve made incredible progress in the gym and are expecting their first child, a baby girl, on September 15th. Dan’s story is nothing short of amazing, and it’s anything but short.  Read it through and you will leave inspired, I promise. Thank you Dan (and Cristy) for being amazing members of our CFPB family!
Here’s what Dan had to say when I told him he would be receiving Athlete of the Month…
“Thank you so much, this is a real honor and I am humbled that you would choose me for this. This is one of the most meaningful things I’ve ever been awarded honestly. Most things in my past that I’ve “earned” I was usually trying really hard to be something or someone I wasn’t. This means a lot because I know I’ve just truly been myself. It took me a long time to figure out who I really am.
It may surprise a lot of people to learn that I’m in recovery. I feel I’m pretty open about it but it’s not something you run around introducing yourself as. I’m not ashamed of my past and it honestly is one of the strongest tools I have, not just to remind me of where I came from but also to help others that no one else can.
In my recovery journey, I’ve discovered my weaknesses, shortcomings, my strengths and who I really am. It also led me to my faith in Christ, which I’m most grateful for. It really has led me to many great things.
I guess when you are truly at your bottom, the only way is up. I came up with this quote while journaling one day and it goes, “If you never had the life you had, then you’d never have the life you have.” Basically, it’s saying that everything in life, good and bad has led us to where we are right now and I’m so grateful for that. If I never had the path I had then I never would’ve met Cristy, my beautiful and amazing wife now of 5.5 years!
We’d never have our beautiful baby girl Hailey Grace that is due September 15th. I’d never have been in Jupiter and have joined this amazing second family and home that is CrossFit Palm Beach. There are so many paths that we could’ve taken in life but I honestly feel we are all right where we are supposed to be. The good is great and the bad always has something to learn from. It’s like exercise, no pain, no gain. Mindset is so important. We can let our smiles change the world or we can let the world change our smiles. We can’t wait to be parents, we truly are blessed. I hope that everything I’ve learned and continue to learn will be enough for Hailey to have the best upbringing she can. I want to be a cool dad. And I hope she is into sports and CrossFit so we can enjoy getting fit together.”
We’ve been sharing our transformation pics in our private facebook group and here’s Dan’s Transformation.  Nothing short of incredible.  175 lbs before: 190 lbs today.
What do you do for work and what do you do for fun outside of CFPB?
I work at a water treatment plant here in Jupiter, Loxahatchee River Management District. It’s a pretty laid back job. The thing I like about it the most is the fact I am giving back to what God has given us, this beautiful planet we call Earth. We treat wastewater so that it can be reused in irrigation or injected 3,500ft underground to be further treated by natural process and over several years re-enter our water table.
My old job I use to build custom vehicles. It was cool and exciting but I always had this feeling like I was just feeding others materialistic desires rather than helping them. There’s nothing wrong with it, it was something that I had a strong conviction about. Outside of the gym, which as we all know I spend waaaay too much time AT the gym lol, consists of just relaxing with Cristy and our 1.5 year old “puppy” Sampson, spending time with family (Cristy’s parents down in Miami and mine up in Stuart), we make a date night once a week (go to dinner and a movie usually), Wednesday nights I volunteer with the youth group at our church (teach lessons, play the drums and just plain have fun with them) and we go to church every Sunday for service and once or twice a month we volunteer with the children (watch them, and teach them during second service). We have a pretty “normal” laid back life I think.
I remember when I first met you and your excitement to start was bursting out of you. You seemed like a man on a mission even from the first day. Did you have specific goals in mind when you started?
Honestly, a lot of the excitement came from watching the “Redeemed and Dominant” CrossFit Games movies! Haha! I wanted to go to the games, and maybe one day I will make it as a Masters Division athlete, but when I realized just how hard this is, it really shifted to just trying to get fit, strong and sexy for my wife haha! I never played sports or anything like that and always wanted to but I went through puberty late and was little in high school, I played trumpet in the marching band instead 🙂 So I missed out on a lot of the competitive aspects of sports.
I tried CrossFit several years ago but the gym I went to really steered me away, it was a very macho and judgy environment and the coaches weren’t very good at teaching technique. But Cristy started doing BeachFit here and I saw a huge improvement in her and she got me to come to try it. It’s funny because when I started BeachFit she was actually doing both CrossFit and BF. We use to go at 5am and I’d sit there and wait for someone to open BF.
At first, I was like, “look at all these meatheads” lol. I had no idea how nice, welcoming, inspiring and supportive they’d actually be. After going for a couple of months I decided to make the transition and there was no turning back!
My mom says she is so grateful for you guys and that I found CF because from all the research she has done on addiction and what someone in recovery needs to stay sober, CF has it! The physical, mental, and for me the spiritual challenge, stimulus, and growth. And it is so amazing to be able to have my family there at my competitions cheering me on when not very long ago I thought they would never want anything to do with me again. When people asked me what I do to stay on track and sober I tell them, “For me, it’s like a stool with four legs, My Faith, Service, Family, and CrossFit! If you remove one the stool cannot stand.” So I guess my very specific goals are to be fit, sober, in community and to grow mentally, spiritually and physically.
Can you talk about specific accomplishments in CF, and what are some of your future goals in CF?

One of the biggest I think is the shift in my mindset. Looking back, I use to be a selfish, insecure yet conceited and vain person. A lot of the change came from the recovery process but CF definitely is a huge part of that change. CF has taught me about teamwork, support, edification and so much more. And for me personally, it has taught me how to accept failures as lessons and opportunities for growth. It has shown me that I am capable of so much more than I thought and that there is so much more room to grow.

Actual CF accomplishments, my legs have gotten a lot stronger, I always skipped leg day before lol. Man it honestly would take pages to list the physical accomplishments CF has helped me achieve, gymnastics skills, Olympic lifting, running PR times. When I started I couldn’t overhead squat a PVC pipe with plates under my heels, I had no idea what the concept of pacing was lol. Man, I could go on forever!

I’m so grateful. Future goals would be to continue to increase my strength and aerobic capacity, one year get on that podium at Deadly Duo, continue to encourage as many people here as I can, get my CFL1 certification (which should be happening in a couple months) and maybe apply to be a coach and just try to put a smile on as many people’s faces as I can.

What has been your most memorable workout or moment at CFPB?
I would say any workout that I got to do together with my wife. There is just something great about being able to do something challenging that you both love, side by side and encouraging each other. And also (technically not AT CFPB but my CFPB family was apart of it) the gender reveal party for our baby girl, CF style. 🙂
What is the most worthwhile investment you have made since starting at our gym?

I’d say shutting my mouth and opening my ears. Really listening and trusting that the coaches have my best interest at heart. They are not poking at me, just trying to help me get better. God gave us 2 eyes and 2 ears but 1 mouth, maybe its because He wanted us to watch and listen 4 times more than we speak 🙂 And just making time to make it to the gym, no matter the workout, no matter the time. Just show up.

What do you love most about CrossFit Palm Beach?
Man, where to start? I’ve been to many CF boxes and nothing compares to what we have here at CFPB. The facility, the A/C lol, the equipment and now to the most important….the people and the community, the coaches, the members…everyone seems to be going somewhere in life, have a good head on their shoulders and constantly growing as people. I cut ties with nearly everyone from my past and I’m totally ok with that today. My best friends are right here at CFPB. It is literally my second home and family!
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out today?

Don’t worry about what anyone is thinking, besides, they are probably proud of you and glad you are a new part of their family. Don’t worry about what others are doing, grow at your own pace and don’t try to rush it. Trust the process. Don’t be ashamed of scaling. Don’t tell yourself you can’t do something. You’ll be amazed at what you actually can accomplish. Don’t give up. Do stay in your own lane. Do trust your coaches. Do believe in yourself. Just enjoy it, the pain, the sweat, the laughter…all of it! It’s amazing!

Another big thing I feel a lot of people always say CF is expensive but if you really look at what you get, especially from our gym, the benefits faaaaarr outweigh the price. The fitness, the coaches, the community, the equipment…it’s all priceless!