Athan Schindler, MS, CSCS
I stand for optimal health, deep human connection, and self-actualization for all people in my life.
I didn’t come from a background where investing in your personal health and fitness was a priority. Despite that, fitness has been the foundation to overcoming every obstacle I’ve faced in my life.
In 1977, I was born to a single mother in Hays, KS. We were poor and we moved all over the country. I lived in over 10 homes in 8 cities before the 4th grade.
Between the ages of 8-14, I was about 20-30 lbs overweight. I was embarrassed of my body and uncomfortable in my own skin. When I was 12, I went to a pool party and another neighborhood boy shouted out, “Athan has man boobs!” I was mortified and humiliated.
My childhood friends were all into sports and I started to tag along with them. Being able to spend time with friends while trying to overcome my insecurities around my weight drove me to focus on sport and fitness. I became deeply interested in becoming the most well-rounded athlete possible. I competed in boxing, martial arts, BMX racing, skateboarding, baseball, wrestling, and football. This foundation would come back to serve me later in life.
Knowing that I was capable of performing at a higher level than I had shown, looking to find my potential, and needing an avenue out of my circumstances, I joined the US Army at the age of 17. I came in with no discipline or experience. I focused on what was within my control and put my fitness and health at the forefront of my priorities. Due largely to my physical fitness, I earned my way into the elite Rangers.
In the Rangers, I had the good fortune to be led and mentored by some of the most successful military leaders in the modern era. These leaders taught me leadership, discipline, integrity, mental and physical toughness, and compassion.
Without question, my talent was revealed to me in the Rangers. I realized I had the ability to see potential in others and I knew how to tap into their knowledge, skill, and talent to bring out the best in them. I was encouraged to focus on my physical and mental attributes as well as that of others.
In 1998, realizing the impact I could have on others, I studied for and earned my first personal trainer certificate. This was my first real education in how to improve the strength and conditioning of others.
In spite of the success I experienced in the military, my life came crashing down when I came home from Afghanistan and I got out of the Army. My personal life fell apart. My marriage and relationship with my children dissolved, I stopped taking care of myself physically, and even had some bouts of alcoholism and homelessness.
After a period of struggle, I reverted back to what I knew worked for me in the past. I recommitted to my fitness and enrolled in college.
Looking to maintain a sense of camaraderie, discipline, and accomplishment, I walked on the football team and played safety and outside linebacker for two seasons. Once again, physical activity and community helped me to overcome my challenges.
Originally, I intended to go to medical school and I earned a degree in Biology. While pursuing that education, I realized that a career in medicine would have me working on people’s illnesses rather than finding their potential and maximizing their strengths. The benefit of receiving a degree in Biology is that I gained an extensive knowledge of the human body and its processes.
In 2006, I was hit by another curveball – my dad was diagnosed with brain cancer. So, I packed up and moved to Austin, TX to help my mom take care of him. My girlfriend (now wife), AnneMarie, decided to join in the journey too.
Seeking to expand on my skills and talents for helping people become their best selves, I applied for and was accepted into a Masters program in Social Work at the University of Texas – Austin.
After a 2 year fight, my dad passed away. Between focusing on my studies and helping to take care of my dad, I stopped focusing on my health and I put on 30lbs. I saw myself in a photo and didn’t even recognize myself.
Around that same time, I decided to continue my military service and entered the Texas Army National Guard. When I got to my unit, I failed my first body tape measurement that determines if soldiers are overweight.
I told myself “never again.” I made a full commitment to myself that I would always prioritize my health and my own personal development. I studied everything I could about nutrition, physical fitness, and personal growth.
I began optimizing my personal health. In the process, around January 2008, one of my Ranger buddies told me about something called CrossFit. I looked into it and started doing the workouts CrossFit posted on their website. I was doing these workouts inside a traditional gym. People there thought I was insane.
In order to maximize my potential, I knew that I would need a coach so I began training at a CrossFit facility in 2011.
Around that same time, other people also started to take notice of my passion for health and fitness. People began asking me to train them.
In 2011, I began a small boot camp called “Fortitude Fitness.” Leading others to find health, wellness, and support in their lives became my obsession.
It wasn’t long before I knew that this was exactly what I wanted to do with my life. Partnering with people to optimize their health, connect with each other, and actualize their potential was the combination of what I knew I was good at and what fulfilled me. I became a sponge for information and for experiences that would support this passion.
Fast forward to present day – what started as a small boot camp is now a fully functioning fitness business with multiple locations, and we’ve helped thousands of people become their best selves.
This passion has turned into my life’s purpose – to empower people to be happier, healthier, and more successful in their lives. I absolutely love getting to know people, learning about their goals, and partnering with them to overcome the obstacles to their success.
Standing here now, I am the possibility for optimal health, deep human connection, and self-actualization for all people in my life.