Locked away in a prison of misery...and he was the architect // Steve Flintoff's Road to recovery through health & fitness
Steve is a graduate of Michigan State University where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. He then continued postgraduate studies at WMU Cooley Law School for two years before submitting withdrawal for medical reasons. Steve subsequently entered treatment to get the help he needed and decided it was not in his best interest to return to Cooley. In early recovery, Steve’s path led him straight to the gym. During that time, the gym made him feel healthy and alive for the first time in years. It was fitness that saved his life.
Steve realized he could share his love and passion for fitness, nutrition, and supplementation with others. He decided to become a certified personal trainer. Additionally, Steve is a culinary contributor on the most-visited fitness website in the world, where he has six published articles featuring his original recipes.
It is interesting how people come back around into our lives again. I’ve recently had the pleasure of interviewing and collaborating with several folks from our hometown, which I will let you debut of course. Steve, where are you from?
I am from Okemos, MI, a town just outside of East Lansing, home of Michigan State University where I completed my undergraduate studies.
Health and fitness are at the forefront of your career. Tell us about your mission and what’s down the road for you?
My mission is to empower clients to augment their quality of life through proper mindset, movement, nutrition, and recovery. My aim is to use my life experience and fitness knowledge to create a fun, inclusive, and relatable environment to train anyone in a safe, mindful, and relevant manner. I hope to raise the bar for those looking to get strong, move well, and feel great, inside and outside of the gym.
While much of the fitness industry is focused on selling quick fixes and jaw-dropping results, I have a high standard for movement quality. Although jaw-dropping results are awesome, you can’t live a purposeful, meaningful life and be a high-performance human being without moving well and feeling great first.
Recently, I’ve had to adjust my training philosophy to work around various injuries or limitations. During that time, I fell in love with kettlebell training. Later this year, I plan to become a kettlebell specialist and hope to train golfers using this versatile training implement. Ultimately, I’d love to get to a point where I can share my passion for health, fitness, and nutrition with recovering addicts and alcoholics to enhance their sobriety.
I recently saw a post about your road to recovery from drug addiction. It was incredibly inspiring. What drove you to make the changes you needed to make? Was there an event, or personal moment that triggered it all?
My addiction fuels me. I am a recovering drug addict who rediscovered life in the gym. I’d call myself a bit of a late bloomer in the fitness industry. When I began college, my life plan was to become a sports agent à la Jerry McGuire--show me the money, right?! That really didn’t go according to plan. I graduated from Michigan State University with an Economics degree, subsequently attempted law school, only to drop out because I spent my adult years battling a severe drug addiction. Shortly thereafter, at age 28, I began treatment to get the help I desperately needed. My counselor suggested I start lifting weights as an alternative coping mechanism. Heeding his advice, I started strength training and felt alive for the first time in almost 10 years. I noticed my body and mind were starting to heal. Not using drugs and alcohol had a positive effect, of course, but it was being in the gym and eating a balanced diet that ultimately gave me the vigor and energy to feel healthy and alive.
To me, health and fitness is so much more than washboard abs, a goal weight, or a pants size. When you invest in stock, you don’t get dividends right away, but the more you consistently invest money, your portfolio grows, and that compounds over time. That’s what I think about every time I step foot into the gym--it creates distance between me and my addiction. I continue to show up, even on days I don’t want to, because I know every time I do, that’s an investment in my life.
Long roads and the compounding journey of achieving goals is familiar to you. Have you been rejected along the way? How did you maintain a positive mindset?
Sure, I’ve been rejected plenty of times. Whether rejected by friends, dating, or potential business opportunities, you have to deal with life on life’s terms. At the time, you may feel discouraged or less confident, but you cannot wallow in self-pity. Life ebbs and flows. You just gotta ride the wave! By learning to anticipate fear/failure and embracing it, you can change course. Additionally, there’s always a silver lining. You just have to shine the light on the right spot to keep perspective.
If you could offer a piece of wisdom/advice to someone who is ready to break their own boundaries, what would you tell them?
If it feels exciting, if it feels inspiring, if it feels energizing, do it.
What mantra do you would want the world to remember you by?
You can’t lose if you never stop learning.
What does it mean to you to be fueled by choice?
I spent many years locked in a prison of misery, and I was the architect. Every day I submitted to drugs, I didn’t have the power to choose. Drugs made me powerless. Choice is essential to human motivation. In order to feel engaged in something, we need to feel like we can choose. That’s the truest freedom: doing what you ought to do because you want to.
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