Full Reverse, Admiral

By Bill Center

In Athletes, Special Populations

January 11, 2012

PDF Article

Retired U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Bill Center was obese and in declining health. He reached his goals to achieve functional fitness by giving CrossFit a chance.

I couldn’t get up from the floor.

My body—270 lb. and just 63 years old—lay prone because I lacked the strength to command it upright.

Rising from the floor is such a basic capability, a natural motion first achieved before most of us could even walk. And it was now a capability that existed only in my past. As a retired rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, this was a new and alarming experience. You don’t get to command warships with hundreds or even thousands of crew because you are incapable. My career took me to such a rank precisely because I’d always been so capable. I routinely surpassed a Navy-mandated level of physical fitness decade after decade.

Now, after leading destroyers and aircraft carriers through times of war and peace, I could not lead my own body to simply stand up.

How did this happen? How did I ever get like this? And, if I couldn’t even stand up on my own, how could I get back to being a capable, physically active person?



12 Comments on “Full Reverse, Admiral”


wrote …

Awesome... CrossFit is for everyone, and scalable :-)


Dane Thomas wrote …

Since the unabridged version of this story is available as a free e-book I would very much appreciate it if the CFJ version could be made available as a free download.

I have many family members and friends who could benefit from this, but those who are most in need of it are more likely to follow a link that goes directly to a short story than one that requires signing in a downloading an ebook. Please help me help them.

Thanks in advance


wrote …

And here is the video that should be posted with the article...great job NW Crossfit. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=folIky4brRo


wrote …

Great Article! After 22 years and counting of military service, I often ponder how difficult it would be to stay in shape after retirement. I plan on staying in the Army until I'm no longer needed or relevant. Many career Soldiers find themselves in the same situation as the Admiral. I hope that my current fitness and nutritional habits allow me to stay in shape. I'm fairly new to crossfit and I kick myself in the ass everyday for not having the cojones to start sooner!


wrote …

Nice job, sir. Any chance you'd have some pull in convincing the Navy that CrossFit works??
Glad you have your life back. Thank you for your service.


wrote …

I just graduated from O.C.S. for the U.S.M.C and I can remember one of my sgt instructors saying you don't earn the right to have a belly in the marine corps until you get a silver eagle to wear on your shoulder. I remember thinking that I completely disagreed with him. I thought to myself that for as long as I am in charge of Marines I will strive to set the example physically and if I want to get a belly I'll do it when I retire. Hearing your story has proved that to be unacceptable as well. Even when we retire and our service men and women aren't the ones looking up to us, our family still desires to keep us around and in a healthy condition. Hoorah Sir keep up the hard work.


wrote …

VERY motivating, Sir! Thank you for your service and thank you for this Crossfit Journal article. Much appreciated.

I hope this article reaches the wide-open masses. Perhaps as a free CF article, same as the main site free article.


wrote …

Sir, keep it up!


wrote …

its stories like this that make me appreciate crossfit so much more than i already do. what an inspirational story!


wrote …

Very inspiring Sir. Thank you.

(USS Saratoga (CVA-60), 1968-1971, IC3)


wrote …

Mr. Center,

Thank you for your service to our country. Also, thank you for writing this article which hopefully can be passed along to folks as inspiration to proceed with a much needed increase in physical activity, that will promote an improvement in the quality of one's life. Well done and keep up the good work.

-James Ryan


replied to comment from Karin Kellerman

You are an inspiration. Sir!

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