PIONEERS IN TOTAL FITNESS
Who is Freedom Fitness America?
This video above will tell the story of the leadership and history of Freedom Fitness America & why we got started along with different ways that you can help donate, engage with, and support our Non-Profit Organization.
Read more about our background below!
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Long March to Total Fitness...
The founder of Freedom Fitness America, Chris Reardon, an active duty United States Marine leader with over 13 years of active duty service, and a passion for fitness and development, has seen first hand the difficulty military leaders have with resolving the life struggles of their people have that are inherent to military service and humanity in general. He saw the emphasis for service members to be given the best training possible to succeed on the battlefield and in their own life. However, when it comes to readiness in other areas of importance outside of Combat, the military services do their best to provide annual training and other classes to help with achieving "total fitness". The problem is that they use quick computer-based training or lectures, which are often a "check in the box" experience, and they don't do a great job of accomplishing this goal.
Service members in the Military who struggle are usually just sent to counselors and chaplains for assistance who will not likely relate to them -- as compared to the unit leaders they follow on a daily basis. We know that a more dynamic and yet standardized model, that incorporated fitness in all areas of life that could be implemented in day to day life at the small unit level --was needed but was not yet available for Military Service Members. In 2015, Chris's passions intersected as he served in various military faith-based nonprofits while station in San Diego, and this was Critical for F.F.A.
During this time he also served as a CrossFit coach at CrossFit Diadem in Escondido, CA that offered Christian-based support to its members to include launching a chapter of Faith Rx'd, a Christian faith-based non-profit that reaches out to members of the fitness and especially CrossFit community since 2013. It was during this time that Chris spearheaded the "Southern California (SoCal) Crucible" event which started off as a military men's retreat at Lake O'Neill at Marine Corps Base Pendleton with about 70 participants its first year and 100 the next in 2016 which opened up to military women and families. There was a problem with hosting these types of events though. The cost of these events in terms of time, manpower, and money were high and not sustainable when compared to the turnout.
More innovation was still needed.
At the same time during 2016, Chris also got the opportunity to purchase a fitness gym with the dream of using it to put in place a program of total fitness for both civilians and military members. Furthermore, this gym would hopefully fund his work with faith-based non-profits that worked with the military and veteran community. This dream was short-lived though and eventually, Chris had to make the hard decision to close the gym doors after only 9 months of ownership on September 11, 2016, due to financial insolvency despite his best efforts to save the gym. The experience left him initially in a financially precarious position that included a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The loss of relationships with the clients and the staff, the time invested, and ultimately the loss of the initial dream was almost too much to bear along with the low turnouts of the Crucible events he had hoped more people would attend.
During this painful season of life though, Chris recognized failure is only final if you quit on life and was encouraged by multiple friends and acquaintances of the idea of wrapping the concept of functional fitness, obstacle course events, shooting, life skills instruction, and optional but relevant Christian instruction first to the military and later to the civilian community. The title of the non-profit came after distinctly feeling inspired by the words, "Freedom Fitness" in June of 2016, while at a Christian retreat for military members and their families. This stuck with him and after praying and thinking hard about this impression, he was convinced that despite the hard experiences he had that he would rise up and one day lead a new non-profit model that would one day impact his brothers and sisters in arms as well as his nation. In April of 2017, while on duty in San Diego at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar with only a few months before changing duty stations to New Orleans, LA, he felt inspired to put together an obstacle course event on East Miramar for his fellow unit members that tied in what his friends had talked about. At first, he wasn't sure what it would look like exactly in detail.
However, he decided to go for it and partnered with his unit chaplain and command leadership to put together a team obstacle course event in the Miramar training area that involved 1.4 miles of trail running in camouflage utilities, group functional fitness activities, shooting at moving targets, and resiliency training with a motivational speaker who was a former infantry Marine who served in combat in Vietnam. The speaker was very experienced in presenting before military audiences and was highly regarded and sought after in the military community especially of the Marine Corps. He spoke on difficult life issues Marines faced regarding marriage, operational stress, substance abuse, and working together as a team in difficult situations. Marines were then given the opportunity to participate in either supplemental resiliency training from a secular perspective by civilian and military counselors or be part of a voluntary session under the chaplain's Command Religious Program.
During the chaplain's optional program, the initial speaker shared how his Christian faith changed his life in coping with his post-traumatic stress, anger, and family conflict he experienced post-Vietnam. While only about 55 Marines participated in this evolution, the cost was minimal because it was run as a unit training evolution which was supported by military resources. Chris realized he could train other military leaders to host similar events and training. This type of event was further refined in multiple small groups and outdoor adventure events with the Marine Reserves which gave birth to Freedom Fitness America, an organization dedicated to facilitating physical, mental, and spiritual readiness in the lives of military professionals and units so that they can face the violence of combat and tackle the obstacles of everyday life.