The Strength to Save
GC: What's the first thought on your mind when you wake up?
Christian: Analyzing how sore I am and what I can or can't do at the gym that day.
GC: How do you adjust your workout routine when you're at a high level of soreness?
Christian: Normally I would shift the muscle group for that day if I'm extremely sore. For instance, lets say I do chest on Monday and Tuesday my shoulders and triceps are still sore, I'll either do back and biceps depending on my upper body energy or legs. I'll push the shoulder and triceps workout back an additional day or two.
GC: What are you looking for in fitness?
Christian: Stress relief, mental clarity, better health and strength to lift someone if needed.
GC: Give me a situation where you would need to lift someone.
Christian: Realistically, when my father tried to kill himself I needed to lift him to lie him down. I was barely able to do that. I told myself that day I would never have that happen again.
CG: What was going through your mind as you tried to lift your father up but realize you didn't have the strength to?
Christian: First thought was that 140lbs or so of dead weight is far heavier than I expected it to be and I might have to drag him instead without hurting him.
GC: During the timeframe from when that situation occurred until you made the decision to be strong in order to save anyone you care about, what were your thoughts about not being able to lift him looking back at it?
Christian: That adrenaline doesn't always kick in like those stories you here about. Sometimes fear overrides that extra strength you need that you dont normally have. Better to have it there naturally then rely on adrenaline.
GC: If you had the natural strength or if adrenaline had kicked in, how do you think your mental would be shaped currently regarding fitness?
Christian: If I was exercising back then the way I am now and went through that scenario, it wouldn't just reinforced my belief in working out.
GC: Is there anyone in your life you feel you wouldn't be able to lift up now if a situation like that ever occurred again?
Christian: Hmmm.... possibly my brother. He's pushing 240lbs. I was able to squat 295 lbs last week once. I won't be able to lift him but I definitely wouldn't struggle the way I did the first time trying to move my Father.
GC: So how do you define fitness, or in different words what's your philosophy on fitness?
Christian: That's two different questions. [laughter]
GC: Ok, so answer each separately [laughter]
Christian: The definition of fitness to me is the balance of extreme strength and muscular endurance for a given body type.
My philosophy on fitness... go hard or go home. The more work you put into your body the more benefits you reap.
GC: To change gears, recently you went through a tough situation which altered your life plans. What happened?
Christian: I was training for the FDNY (Fire Department of New York) and developed stress fractures on both my ankles. I've had problems with my knees and ankles for years due to sports and with the high intensity and heavy training for the FDNY, my leg muscles couldn't compensate and it began to take a toll on my knees, which in turn stressed my ankles. Basically I had to stop the training for 4 months, otherwise I had a high risk of needing surgery on my ankles.
GC: In situations like that, some people take the high risk option and let life play out. Why didn't you
Christian: Because the pain was becoming more sharp. And recovery from surgery isn't something I enjoy. That would've been a few months of lying around.
GC: What was going through your mind following the days after receiving the news?
Christian: Most prominent thought was failure. Failure and disappointment in myself. I was also angry for not taking better care of myself in my younger overactive days.
GC: What kept you grounded during this transitional phase?
Christian: Just going back to the gym and lifting. The idea of progressively improving my body over time instead or rushing. Also, I have great friends for support.
GC: Although recent, looking back on the experience what is the greatest awareness to come from it?
Christian: Hmmm... that's a great question.
I would have to say the greatest awareness is listening to what my body is telling me. I feel like a lot of people don't do that very well. For years I went overboard with physical activities which only caused problems. I know others who don't like to test their bodies at all and know nothing about them, which isn't a good thing in my eyes.
GC: Can you explain "test their bodies" a bit more and touch into why it isn't a good thing in your eyes?
Christian: By test I mean push your body to the limit every now and then. Its your body, I fully believe in a person knowing what it can and cant do. Only way to know that is to test it.
GC: Is the end result you no longer wishing to be a Firefighter?
Christian: The end result is that my ankle still needs time to recover and now im focusing on getting stronger at the gym and getting others into the gym and helping them achieve the results they want from their body for whatever reason they have
GC: You recently told me you workout just to be strong, you don't care about the aesthetics of your body. I know you touched on being strong earlier but is there more to the definition for you?
Christian: I mean, being strong physically adds to being strong mentally. Its no easy feat to lift something that weighs more than you. Much more than muscles involved. Being strong for me is mental and physical combined.
GC: You turn 30 this year. What would you tell 18 year old Christian about life in one sentence?
Christian: Some things change and some things don't. As long as you can understand that, you'll have a better filter than I did in years to come.
GC: That's two sentences but it's fine. [laughter]
GC: What are you preparing for 40 year old Christian?
Christian: I haven't thought that far ahead to be honest. But I guess financial stability and just good health.
GC: Last question, last thing on your mind before you go to bed?
Christian: Do i have the energy to watch another episode of How I Met Your Mother, do I read, or do I just sleep? [laughter]
GC: [laughter] Which one usually wins out?
Christian: Read [laughter]. But I think ill sleep instead.
Christian Ayala is currently transitioning his passion for fitness into a career. In the next few months he will be working on his NASM Personal Trainer Certification which will finalize be a stepping stone in his career path. While preparing for this he hopes to start working in a fitness center getting hands on experience and learning the ropes from fellow trainers. You can currently catch him at the New York Health & Racquet Club on 6th Ave and 23rd St, where nearly every set is focused on going beyond his physical limits.