Ep 124 – Breaking Barriers with Adaptive Athlete and Coach Kevin Ogar

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“I think we’ve seen a lot of these to-be athletes, these persons with disabilities be told no, or that they can’t, and then they just give up or they stop and they’ve never actually tried, and they’re only told no because of some statistic that says they’re probably not going to.  But they’ve never tried for themselves, and I’ve always thought that was kind of weird.  And what we’re finding is that when we get these people to try, those statistics are wrong, and they’re based off people who don’t want to do any better.  And so, they have this whole vast life of functionality that they haven’t even begun to tap because someone somewhere along the road said, ‘Hey, don’t do that.’  Or, ‘Hey, you can’t do that.’  Or, ‘You should be careful because you’re already broken.’  I think my big goal is to allow them to understand, yeah, you may have some broken parts and pieces but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to better those things.  You shouldn’t [stop trying] to push and the limits of your athleticism just because someone told you no.  I mean, imagine an able-bodied person, imagine the CrossFit Games if half of these athletes had been told no and they just stopped and hadn’t pushed the limit.” – Kevin Ogar

In the blink of an eye, Kevin Ogar’s life dramatically changed while weightlifting during a fitness competition.  An erratic bounce of a barbell clipped him in the back, injuring his spinal cord and leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

At just 28, Kevin went from being an active CrossFit coach and aspiring Games competitor to being paraplegic and learning how to navigate life from a wheelchair.  In the aftermath of the accident, Kevin was surrounded by love and support from the CrossFit community, and his passion for CrossFit helped him navigate through some dark times as he focused on getting back in the gym and to the community he loves.

In the years since the accident, Kevin has not only become a prolific adaptive athlete, he has also dedicated himself to helping others use CrossFit for fitness and recovery.  He travels the world teaching CrossFit Level 1 seminars and Adaptive Training Academy courses, runs his own affiliate, CrossFit Watchtower, volunteers with Craig Hospital to run a therapeutic recreation program, and is on the board of directors for The Reveille Project, a non-profit that provides tools to aid veterans as they adapt back to civilian life.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Kevin at the 2019 CrossFit Games, and we chatted about his recovery process, how he adjusts his mindset when he’s having a down day, and his passion for helping others push beyond their limits to achieve more than they ever thought possible.

In this episode we discuss:

  • How Kevin got into fitness, and what it was like to be doing CrossFit while the sport was in it’s infancy
  • His competitive drive and how that helped him succeed as a Regionals athlete
  • The injury that severed Kevin’s spinal cord and resulted in paralysis from the waist down
  • The overwhelming support he received following his injury and his desire to give back to the community
  • The mental, emotional, and physical stages of his recovery
  • Kevin’s partnership with Craig Hospital which helps other rehab patients try CrossFit
  • His own drive to resume CrossFit during his recovery
  • Opening his affiliate, CrossFit WatchTower, and how he keeps the focus of his gym on creating a community for those who need CrossFit to help with recovery
  • Getting started as an adaptive athlete
  • Kevin’s goals for the Adaptive Training Academy (formerly the CrossFit Adaptive Athlete Certificate course)
  • His non-profit, The Reveille Project, and how they’re helping veterans get involved with CrossFit to restore their lives post-active duty
  • His work on the CrossFit Level 1 Seminar Staff
  • Kevin’s process for changing his mindset when he’s having a down day
  • How Kevin hopes to impact people
  • Why it’s so important to continue trying, even if someone tells you no
  • Three things that have the biggest positive impact on Kevin’s health
  • One thing he struggles with that could have a big impact on his health
  • What a healthy life looks like to Kevin

You can follow Kevin on Instagram and Facebook, and you can support The Reveille Project here.

Links:

Related Episodes:

Ep 37 – Steph Hammerman on overcoming obstacles, teaching CrossFit, and crushing cancer
Ep 60 – Chris Spealler on training for longevity and becoming a Master
Ep 75 – Growth through Adversity with Kyle Maynard

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.

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