Al Sagapolutele was always the “big guy.” As a result of poor eating and drinking habits, he weighed as much as 485 lb. after college.
A few years ago, Sagapolutele suffered a heart attack, and treatment left him with three stents. He also had sciatic nerve pain, a herniated disk and spinal stenosis in two parts of his lower lumbar region. After multiple doctors told him he needed to lose weight, a desperate Sagapolutele saw a gastric-bypass surgeon. When a good friend questioned whether Sagapolutele had done everything possible to lose the weight naturally, Sagapolutele admitted he hadn’t.
A year and a half ago, Sagapolutele started one-on-one sessions with Dorian Shockey, owner of CrossFit Resurgens in Atlanta, Georgia. Though Sagapolutele had tried other gyms in the past, this was like talking to a friend, he said. He eventually progressed to the affiliate’s beginners course, then regular classes.
More than anything, Sagapolutele was struck by the sense of community and supportive atmosphere at CrossFit Resurgens.
“As soon as I left the beginners class and joined the regular class, strangers walked up and cheered me on, people who don’t know you, yet they recognize why you’re there. They come in and they want to see you do your best, no matter what it is,” he said, choking up.
The results speak for themselves. When Sagapolutele started CrossFit, he weighed 422 lb. Today, he’s down to 268 lb., just 18 lb. shy of his goal weight. His longtime knee and ankle pain is gone, his sleep apnea has subsided, and his cardiologist is elated with his progress.
“I’ve been sick for so long that I think I owe it to myself to get well,” Sagapolutele said.