March 2020 Athlete Spotlight


March 2020 Athlete Spotlight

As a growing CrossFit box, we are all getting to know each other and building that tight community we always envisioned. We profile a CrossFit Grail Athlete that is interesting and inspirational. A person that demonstrates a positive attitude, shows up every day and puts their heart and soul into their workout, never gives up, crushes their goals, cheers everyone on and is passionate about the CrossFit Grail Community. And someone who is pretty cool! Although we think everyone has these qualities, we can only pick one. 

March 2020 Athlete Spotlight: Sheldon Gardner

Tell us a little about yourself:
I am 45 years old and grew up in a small-town in Southwestern Colorado. I met my beautiful wife, Amber in 2003 playing beach volleyball – but in the mountains. We’ve been married for almost 15 years and have 4 children whom are actively involved in competitive dance and volleyball. In 2015, we moved from Montrose, Colorado to the Denver Metro area so my wife could pursue an opportunity to obtain her PhD in Mathematics at the University of Colorado, Denver. Amber is currently mapping how the human brain constructs math knowledge from birth to calculus.

Check out Sheldon’s video interview here

I’m a Colorado native and love playing sports, including basketball, football and beach volleyball.  I enjoy gathering around the TV on Sunday afternoons with family and friends to watch football and attending pregame tailgating parties at Mile High Stadium to cheer on the Denver Broncos. During the summer, I love spending time camping, lake surfing and wake boarding.

After high school, I attended Mesa State College in Grand Junction, CO where I studied Criminal Justice. My police career began at the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office in Telluride, Colorado. After about five years on patrol, I was assigned to a local multi-jurisdictional drug task force to investigate illicit narcotics trafficking and worked in an undercover capacity. We worked in collaboration with local, state and federal agencies to successfully investigate and dismantle several drug organizations during my eight years assigned to the team. When we relocated to the front range, I continued my career in law enforcement with the Cherry Hills Village Police Department.

While I am proud to serve my community, my interest in law enforcement began with a desire to help others and to promote fairness and equality. I believe law enforcement is about serving, protecting, and most importantly, making a positive difference. One academy instructor cautioned us about thinking police officers can make a difference. In his wisdom, he informed us that believing you can make a difference is how police officers get burned out.  I respectfully disagreed then and continue to disagree today.  I do think police officers make a difference daily. Although it is not always recognized, I know I personally have been a part in changing lives for the better. For example, a former drug addicted methamphetamine user and distributor was able to turn her life around. After she was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, she became a confidential informant, working closely with our unit for several years. She recently contacted me to personally thank me for changing her life. She told me she has now regained custody of her children, is gainfully employed and purchased a home. We were able to dismantle several large drug organizations with her help and she was able to get her life back on track with ours.

This year, I’m looking forward to retiring from law enforcement after 20 years of service. I’m planning to continue my passion for serving my community, helping others and making a positive difference by pursuing a personal training and CrossFit Level 1 certification.  

How long have you been doing CrossFit and what got you started?
I was first introduced to CrossFit after occasionally doing CrossFit style workouts with fellow coworkers at the local “big box” gym in Montrose. CrossFit really captured my attention when the box owner in my hometown partnered with the high school football team for their conditioning workouts. I was astounded with the results as the team went from winning only a few games the year before to playing in the 4A State Championship game in 2014.  The next year we moved to the front range and I didn’t work out for the first several months after our relocation. My wife encouraged me to join CrossFit, knowing my passion for fitness, as a way to meet people and develop the sense of community I was missing after our move. I’m glad I finally listened to her advice and joined the Grail in summer 2017.

What did you do for your fitness before CrossFit?
I’ve always stayed active and enjoyed going to athletic clubs to either play sports or lift weights. I played men’s league basketball and traveled throughout Colorado to play in 2-person mountain volleyball tournaments throughout the summers. I don’t enjoy winter skiing as much, I would be on the lake everyday boat surfing if I could.

What do you like most about CrossFit?
When I started at the Grail, I was instantly hooked. The environment includes awesome owners, coaches, athletes and an amazing community. I was constantly seeing measured results with new personal records on lifts, improved mobility and strength. I lost weight and gained noticeable muscle. Most of all, it put me in a good mood. For one hour out of the day, I can forget about everything and refocus my mind.  

How has doing CrossFit changed your life outside of the Box? 
CrossFit has changed my life outside the box with improved energy, mobility, and helped me with lower back and hip pain. As a police officer, I had suffered from having constant sharp pain in my lower back and hips from sitting inside of a cruiser for hours every day. Since I’ve started workouts at CrossFit Grail regularly, the pain is gone! I also noticed my attitude, patience and mental health greatly improved.

What motivates you to keep WOD-ing?
I love the constantly varied functional movements of CrossFit and seeing other athletes accomplish new PR’s and movements. Each work out is different and helps me stay engaged. Most of all, the community of Grail is very encouraging, welcoming and fun to be around. It makes my day to athletes hitting a new PR and accomplishments.

What are your 3 favorite CrossFit movements?
1. Back squat/Fronts squat
2. Shoulder press (push or strict)
3. Pull ups
And a few extra ones! OK 5.
4. Bench Press
5. Hang Cleans

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment?
Without a doubt, being married to my amazing wife and raising 4 fantastic healthy, smart, athletic kids. I love watching them grow, thrive and celebrating their successful moments.

CrossFit related: My first bar muscle up, reaching the 300#  one rep max milestone on my front squat, and successfully completing my first CrossFit competition last fall.

This month: Successfully completing the Tuff Love Competition
This year: Get my Level 1 CrossFit Certification and Personal Trainer Certification
This lifetime: My goal is to continue working out at a CrossFit box until I can’t move anymore.  I want to defy age – besides, it’s just a number!  

Athlete Spotlight March 2020 – Sheldon Gardner