Our Male Athlete of the Month for October is Jason Pugsley! Jason's commitment to staying fit in 2020 is nothing short of amazing. He's already well into our 2020 Committed Club (180 workouts) with over 220 workouts!
Many of those workouts were performed at the creatively-named "PugsFit", which were home workouts with his brother Mike, and their families and friends. Mike was the reason Jason started in June of last year, and for a while their brother John joined them in BeachFit too. Mike won Athlete of the Month in July '19 so naturally seeing pictures of your brother's progress posted fueled Jason to create his own transformation. Over 400 workouts in 15 months has got him here with many positive post-worthy changes.
He began BeachFit at 209 lbs at a time where he let himself go (his words). He also had recommendations from doctors to start taking medications for blood pressure and cholesterol but chose the route of getting fit instead. He now weighs in at a lean and mean 184 pounds with a very healthy 15% body fat. He also has brought down his blood pressure from 150/110 to 120/80. His cholesterol has dropped from 360 to under 200, 200 being the upper range of what's considered a healthy total level.
Jason and his partner Lindsay (not actual better half, just friends) won our Better Half Battle in March of this year. It was the first time ever we had a BeachFit Division in our in-house competition and they set the standard for the years to follow.
You can catch Jason in an upcoming FitTown Follow Along workout being released next week, working out alongside his brother Mike.
Thank you Jason, and the whole PugsFit Family, for being such a huge part of our FitTown family!
Tell us a little about yourself and how you ended up here in Jupiter?
Jupiter has been my hometown since 1989 when our family moved from Miami along with alot of other Florida Power & Light families. I went to school at Jupiter Middle and graduated from Jupiter High School. I attended Florida State University in the late 90’s when the Seminoles were actually dominate on the grid iron (really miss those days). After graduating from engineering school I worked as a private engineering consultant designing and constructing water and wastewater distribution, collection and treatment systems for almost 20-years. During this time, I married my wife Jennifer (15 years and counting after getting married after only 7-months). We have two young sons, Ethan and Carter who keep us extremely busy. In December of last year, I was presented on opportunity to make a career change of sorts and decided to take a position at a local public utility. After 20 years of working in the private sector I became tired of the consulting grind and was looking to an improved quality of life. After careful consideration (and a little bit of influence from Coach Arlan’s story) I made the switch. Since this change, I have been able to spend a lot more time with my family and have significantly more flexibility which has made it even easier for me to prioritize my fitness.
What’s something about you that others may not know about you? Any special talents, hobbies, or interests?
I really enjoy the Florida life. Being a Florida native, I have grown up appreciating all that coastal Florida has to offer. I try to go boating and fishing with my family as often as possible. Since I stay pretty busy with youth sports on the weekends I decided to bring the ocean into our home. For the past 6 to 7 years I have been into saltwater aquariums. I currently have a 150-gallon tank with corals and fish. There is something relaxing about watching the marine life interact. It really changes your perspective on how smart these animals really are. Almost all of them have their own unique personality.
What’s your athletic resume? Were you into fitness growing up?
I grew up playing competitive soccer from the time I was about 8 years old till about the age of 24 and was even fortunate to play on a professional team at one point. Looking back, I remember playing soccer constantly. I can even remember a period when I was playing on three teams at the same time. As a goalkeeper, I really enjoyed hurling my body around which at the time was fun, now I think it would be painful. While in college at FSU I really got into weightlifting. However, like most college kids at that time I was more concerned with my upper body physique (What’s leg day?) than my overall health. I stayed pretty fit up until the time I was married and my wife and I had our first son. At that time, “life” as they say got in the way. Looking back, I really just didn’t understand or have the knowledge to maintain balance in my life.
What motivated you to get started at FitTown? What do you remember most about when you first started?
My older brother Mike began the BeachFit program a few years back and he began to regularly harass me about joining as well. After being emphatic about not wanting to change my current lifestyle since “I was not ready” I started to see his physical improvements which opened my mind to the possibility of joining. Mike then went for an annual wellness exam (as older folks tend to do) and he got some very encouraging news regarding his bloodwork. The news was so positive it allowed him to start tapering off some “necessary” medications. Once word got back to my wife Jennifer, I knew I was in trouble. Fast forward to Father’s Day 2019 and FitTown was offering a two-month introductory special. Needless to say, I was gifted the special and I have been going consistently ever since. Of course, it has not been without some struggles. I can remember how I felt after my first WOD. I came home and laid down, exhausted, on our coffee table of all places. My wife looked at me and asked if I were ok. I told her I that I was fine, but I quickly realized I wasn’t making it into work that day. I am not sure which hurt worse…..my body or my ego. From that point on I realized how much I had let myself go and how much I needed to make a change.
What positive physical progress would you like to brag on about yourself? Also, any new beliefs/mottos, habits, behaviors that you formed since you started that have most positively impacted your life?
Well its certainly not my legs, although I will say I am surprised at how much progress I have made with leg-based movements during WODs. The thing I am most pleased with is the amount of weight I have lost in my mid-section. While I am doubtful that my abs will ever be what they were in my 20’s I can at least see them occasionally. The biggest belief that I have now (which also applies to daily life) is that no matter how uncomfortable I am during a WOD I know I can make it through it. Mentally, I have learned to compartmentalize difficult parts of a workout or break them up in my head into a series of smaller WODs. This really helps me mentally since I achieve multiple mini-milestones during a given WOD which keeps me focused on the ultimate goal.
What has been your most memorable workout? (This could be a very positive experience, funny experience or one that was very challenging)
There have been a lot of memorable workouts so far, but there are two that really stand out. The first workout that sticks out is the first time I did the “BF Holleyman” WOD (9/24/19). The WOD includes 20 rounds for time with: 5 DB Front Squats, 3 Burpees and 1 Heavy D Ball Clean. On paper, besides the 20 rounds part, it doesn’t look so bad……man…was I ever wrong. It’s the closest I have come to hanging with Mr. Pukey. I remember my entry in SugarWOD that day included a confession that if my 11 year old son wasn’t sitting on the couch in the lobby I may have slipped out the front door, hopefully unnoticed. The second workout that I remember vividly was the afternoon workout for the “Better Half Battle” competition which I teamed with Lindsay Schutes (Go Worms!). Back when Lindsay was a full time BeachFitter she was a bit of an unknown commodity but her ridiculous strength was soon evident to all those in attendance. As I struggled with the weighted squats and lunges, Lindsay breezed through the WOD and carried me. Lindsay and I could have literally switched male and female weights and ended at the same point. This was a bit of a humbling experience and illuminated glaring areas which required some serious attention. More significantly, it made me realize that we are never alone at our gym. Whether we are doing a partner work out or just working out next to someone who I now consider a friend (who I happened to have met at the gym) there is always someone there to motivate you and keep you going. In the end, Lindsay and I ended up, to our surprise, winning the competition…..as a Team. Lindsay has since transitioned to the FTX side and I regularly get a chuckle when she out lifts my brother Mike on specific WODs because I can still hear him busting my chops about how Lindsay carried me in the afternoon workout. Karma can be cruel.
Have you had any setbacks since starting your fitness journey here, what have you done to overcome them?
Like everyone (if you say you haven’t I don’t believe you) I have had some set backs. When I first started I struggled with my diet and mid-WOD fatigue. Since I generally work out early in the morning, I initially did not eat anything before working out. About two months in I finally realized that in order to get everything out of the early morning workout I needed to eat something to provide me with some energy but not something too significant that I felt weighed down. During this time, I also began to significantly alter my diet and was more focused on eating more well rounded meals. Fortunately for me my wife, Jennifer, is a great cook who is also committed to an all plant based diet. So about 2 to 3 months into starting at FitTown I started eating a primarily plant based diet. While I still eat meat from time to time I have noticed my energy level and digestion have improved greatly. Recognizing that protein is essential for muscle performance and growth I incorporate protein drinks into my daily diet on a daily basis. More recently (well not that recently) I have struggled with a knee issue. During this period, the Coaches at FitTown have been extremely helpful finding ways to modify workouts but still challenge and push me to make progress.
What keeps you motivated? What do you remind yourself of on days when you don’t “feel” like going to the gym?
I am the type of person that can find motivation in a lot of different things, but I think the biggest motivator are the improvements I have seen in my overall diagnostic health statistics. Before I started at FitTown I weighed around 209 lbs and carried a lot of weight (like most guys) in my mid-section. My blood pressure was consistently high at 150/110 and the last time I had my bloodwork checked my total cholesterol was 360. While I was not on any medications at the time, I had multiple doctors recommend that I take medications to lower and control my blood pressure and cholesterol. Fast forward to today and I currently weigh about 184 pounds, my blood pressure is consistently 120/80 and my total cholesterol was recently recorded at 200.
The improvements I have seen in these measurable metrics have been great but it’s the qualitative improvements which I have provided me the most motivation on a day-to-day basis. I feel a lot more energetic and focused in my daily life. The challenges of the daily WODs, both physically and mentally (some days I do just want to walk out after starting) are a great starting point to my day and set me up for success the rest of the day. I guess this is the reason that I do struggle to take rest days. I am so committed to my “routine” that when I don’t hit a WOD each day I feel off. With that said, I do need to work at balancing my body’s need for regular rest days with the ability to stay mentally “level” during these rest days. Shout out to Coach Mo for always being on my shoulder with this struggle. I should also mention that I am also continually motivated when I see the progress that other members are making. It’s the old adage…if they can continue to improve then why can’t I? I can tend to be a bit competitive so I just want to be sure that I am keeping up with the “Beachfit Pack”.
What advice do you have for the person who’s hesitant about starting a fitness program like this?
My advice would be to truly commit to the process from the onset and be sure to set a minimum pre-set time period during which you are going to give it your all. You cant say something doesn’t work if you don’t ever truly commit to it. By setting a minimum time period it also provides a person a light at the end of the tunnel. That light doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a point where someone gives up and quits. That light can, and often is, the point at which someone begins to see significant improvement in both their physical and mental health which drives them to continue in the program. Based on my time at FitTown every new member that has taken this approach has stuck with it and the returns have truly been amazing.
What do you love most about FitTown Jupiter?
Very simply, it’s the FitTown community of members and coaches. We are a diverse group of people from different backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, political affiliations, and beliefs who are working collectively towards common health and fitness goals. It’s a place where I go to improve my physical and mental self while having positive and constructive interactions with friends.