John McClain: A Transformation Story

Name: John McClain

Age: 27

Occupation: Director of Choirs at Logan High School/Singer

What brought you to TFA?: Shelly Riggs had been encouraging me (strongly, haha) to give TFA a try.  I knew she had gotten Jarrod Turnbull to try it, and I was amazed by his success, so I gave it a go.  

How has CF changed your life?: I never *enjoyed* working out until now, and man, am I hooked.  What I discovered is CrossFit is the perfect program for me. The workouts are CONSTANTLY varied, and it’s the farthest thing from “ok, I’m gonna get on a treadmill and run for 60 minutes straight.”  I love how fast-paced it is. I love the variances within structure (Warm-up, instruction/coaching, skill, strength, and metabolic conditioning). I love the variety of programming, specifically at TFA – whether it’s variety within the regular CrossFit class, or variety in different class options and offered times—like being able to get a quick Shred cardio class in on the busy days. I love that our coaches are so talented and are able to modify the workouts so that every single person feels empowered and satisfied when they leave.  Most of all, I love the community that the owners, Jimmy and Brandon, have insisted upon at our gym. It is so easy to live a life in our own worlds, for me – focusing on music all of the time. The unexpected “bonus prize” of reclaiming my health was all of these people, this CrossFit Community, from all walks of life becoming my true friends – actually my #TRUEFAM. Whether we’re crushing a WOD together, encouraging each other while we struggle to breathe, haha, or celebrating at the gym Christmas Party – I know I can count on these people to be there and support me. (Yes, even after I accidentally let a sweat droplet fall in Cheryl Flowers’s eye while giving her a high five…)

What goals have you accomplished since being at TFA?:

I was always a “big guy.” At my heaviest, this idea catapulted me to 414 lbs. In 2013, I began a journey to lose weight because I was given the feedback from my doctor that if I didn’t make a plan to lose weight, I’d have to be put on blood pressure medication, indefinitely. In six months time and with a strong will, I lost 100 pounds through a low-calorie diet under the supervision of a doctor. This extreme solution was what I needed at the time; there were many aspects of my life that felt out of my control, and this was a form of control and a solution.  In the months that followed, I hit a weight loss plateau, suffered the passing of my mom, and under that stress, started to gain the weight back. Luckily, I said “yes” to TrueFit before all of my previous work had been lost, and I began to lose weight again, this time with diet, an amazing exercise program, and a whole #truefam of people behind me. To date, I have lost a grand total of 182 pounds and 24 inches from my waist alone, I’m in the best shape of my life, and most importantly, TFA has given me the tools to make healthy changes and create the habits allowing me to “live my best life,” FOR GOOD!  For that, I am so grateful.  

What are your current goals?

All of that being said, the struggle to not smash a big plate of nachos is ALWAYS gonna be there… so it’s a goal to not do that… haha. My current goal is consistency, but not complacency—avoiding unhealthy extremes in any direction.  I want to maintain these great habits, but also continue to grow and continue to be surprised at what my body can do as an athlete. Continuing to lose weight would be great! I will say though, this time I am gaining muscle, I feel amazing in my clothes, and I’m learning to celebrate the non-scale victories, too. I’m gonna get an unbanded pull-up one day, I’m gonna be able to string double unders together, and maybe even a muscle-up.  🙂 Who knows?

How many days per week do you workout?

I never plan a day off ahead of time, so that when something comes up and I can’t make it to the gym, I don’t feel bad about it. And that’s just it – I never thought I’d say it, but I’m SAD when I don’t make it in to work out!  Never in a million years! 5-6 days a week keeps me happy!

What motivates you to stay consistent?

The amazing coaches and people at TFA, for sure.  I would also have to say a major motivation is my students.  I am a better teacher and mentor, as a result of finding this healthy balance in my life.  In the height of producing a big musical after school, you’re definitely likely to see me and some students trying to get a workout in between rehearsals, running laps around the school or doing some burpees. 🙂  It’s been cool for them to see the “choir guy” in a different light, through all of this!

Do you follow a specific nutrition plan/diet?

In general, I just avoid excess sugar and refined carbs.  I have found the most success with a few meals a day being constants.  

I start each day with a meal replacement shake because I just am not a morning person.  For years, I would grab a sugar-filled granola bar or something I thought was healthy, not knowing it wasn’t a good choice.  My meal replacement shake provides me with a protein and carb-balanced start to the day without even having to think. (Just don’t leave the blender bottle dirty, unless you like really horrible smells…we’re talking like the stench of all stenches) Every day for lunch, I have a great big salad with all kinds of toppings.  I have found that it is important to make your food look appealing to you! Use a variety of veggies in different colors, hard-boiled eggs, some other protein, sunflower seeds, etc. I also allow myself to use a regular ranch dressing, in moderation. It’s important to make changes that don’t make you feel deprived, so I let myself have a little ranch. 

Dinner is my variable.  I keep that open-ended for potential dinners out with friends and family, and I have found ways to be creative when ordering to avoid those refined carbs – ordering the burger without the bun (or just half of the bun because pretzel buns are my absolute kryptonite), a salad instead of fries… and the reward of all of this when making these choices – I always know in the back of my mind that I feel so good when I stick to the plan.  

What is 1 food/meal you could eat everyday for the rest of your life…

Roosters wings and nachos deluxe, for sure.  Sticking to the plan though, I’ll just take a small order of wings and a chef salad. 

What is you favorite WOD? 

Anything fast-paced with cardio sprints.  

… I kinda like the assault bike, too. 🙂 

What do you enjoy outside of the gym?

Even though it’s my job, music and singing is the center of my life.  I consider myself extremely blessed to have a career that is my passion, giving me so much joy, every single day.  In addition to that, I enjoy world travel, unique food/restaurants, great bourbon, hiking, and fishing.  

What was the first music album you owned?

Train, Drops of Jupiter

And of course as a 90s kid, I had all the NOWs, starting with NOW 1 all the way up until it wasn’t cool anymore. 

If you could meet anyone from history who would you meet and why?

Oh, Martin Luther King, Jr. for sure.  I have always loved hearing about his activism, his approach to enacting change, and the love he had for all people. 

You win the lottery…what are the first 3 things you are buying?

A helicopter and the training to be able to fly it, so I can get places faster, a concert tour for my choir to South Africa, and lots of killer modifications for my Jeep.

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