British Army veteran Mike Burgess dedicated himself to becoming fit. The 42-year-old lives with post-traumatic stress disorder but says he doesn’t let it define who he is. Drawn to CrossFit by its connection to the military, Burgess was intrigued when he saw the results CrossFit produces. In this six-part series, follow the trials and triumphs that go along with “Building Burgess.”
In Part 2, Burgess is at CrossFit Calgary preparing for Cindy—20 minutes for as many reps as possible of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 air squats. He then moves on to the Shooting Edge for some target practice. Here, he discusses his experience with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“What people don’t get,” he says, “is that in the military, we have seen how pain ends and how to end pain. When someone is not coping, the wheels are coming off, they’re just desperately unhappy the urge is to take their own life.”
While at the shooting range, Burgess says suicide by firearm has never been an option for him but admits he had thoughts of suicide as a younger man.
As with the healing process for PTSD, Burgess knows CrossFit will never be easy, but it’s worth the hard work to get better.
He says: “I still work on kind of an old elitist principle: If it isn’t hard, it’s not worth having.”
That attitude served him well on Cindy.
“That was pretty tough,” he tells affiliate owner and CrossFit Level 1 Seminar staff member Brett Marshall. “I can’t feel my arms. It’s like I’ve been drinking for a week—my arms are shaking so much now.”
He finished with 8 rounds, 5 pull-ups and 5 push-ups.
Video by Jeremy Podlog and Martin Ray.
Additional reading: Warriors on the Waves by Andréa Maria Cecil, published April 18, 2014.