Beyond the GymStory by Kelly Harley • Photos by Shelia Scott
Health. Wellness. Fitness.
These are buzz words that seem to be gaining more traction in today’s fast-paced world, and if you are into the craze, you know that fitness isn’t a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. Ask Nicholas Oswald about being healthy, and he will be the first to tell you that his desire to live a healthy lifestyle started at a young age. Now at 41 years old, he is living proof that hard work and dedication does pay off.
The Start of CrossFit
It was just over a year ago that Nicholas just so happened to find himself at CrossFit Shear Force in Pooler. “My partner Meaghan and I were in our small group at church when our friends invited us to try CrossFit,” says Nicholas. “I had no idea that I was going to fall in love with it.”
And fall in love he did. If you are somewhat familiar with CrossFit, you might be picturing big tires and heavy ropes. While many “cross-fitters” do push tires, the workout goes beyond dragging rubber. CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program consisting mainly of a mix of aerobic exercise, bodyweight exercises, and Olympic weightlifting. The strength and conditioning program is focused on functional movements executed at high intensity. “CrossFit fulfills my need to be active. It became my outlet and I don’t ever feel stressed. Every day is a great day! Along with my strong faith, exercise and my active lifestyle are my foundation,” says Nicholas.
Nicholas pours his heart into CrossFit. He is dedicated to his workouts and often trains five days a week. Three days a week he’s usually at the gym by 5:15 a.m. and depending on his goals, some days he’ll manage to squeeze in two workouts in one day. “If I didn’t go to the gym, I would feel like I was going crazy,” he jokes. When it comes to the gym, Nicholas is a huge fan of his "home" gym at Crossfit Shear Force. He travels a lot for work, and because of that, he’s been to a lot of gyms. “I appreciate a rugged box more than a polished box,” he says. “I don’t want to go to a gym with air conditioning. I want to sweat and burn. I want to feel the fatigue.”
Beyond the Gym
As fast and as hard as Nicholas fell in love with CrossFit, he’s also finding a passion in competitions. In his short time doing CrossFit, he’s already competed in several CrossFit competitions, including the Granite Games in January and the Reebok CrossFit Barbells at the Beach on Hilton Head Island in July. He has two more competitions planned for this year, to include the Granite Games being held in September at Strike Hard CrossFit in Hinesville. There will be six teams from CrossFit Shear Force competing against at least 40 other teams and 120 athletes. Some of the events include pushing 50-pound dumbbells shoulder-to-overhead, box jumps, and a deadlift to a power clean. Nicholas and his teammates will compete in four different events in the one-day competition. Teams are judged on how many rounds they can complete in a certain amount of time, how fast they can do a move and how much weight they can lift as a team. “We don’t do it to win, we do it for the comradery,” says Nicholas. “Competition is a byproduct of our training and an extension of our drive. It builds character.”
In addition to the time Nicholas spends in the gym, he also spends much of his time at his job. He is a district manager for
McAlister’s Deli and oversees five stores including two in Georgia and three in Charleston. “I love my job and the people I work with. I wanted to be with a company that was going to be around for a long time and I am thankful that I get to work where I do and live in Pooler.” McAlister’s Deli is the exclusive food vendor at the Granite Games in September and is donating food to all of the volunteers and judges at the event.
A Healthy Lifestyle at a Young Age
Nicholas grew up in Beaufort, South Carolina, and played football, basketball, and competitive bowling throughout high school. At age 16, he bowled his first perfect game. “My mom was a manager at a bowling center and I was up there all the time. It was a lot of fun.” After high school, he attended the University of South Carolina and graduated from there with a bachelor of arts in liberal arts.
His partner Meaghan grew up playing softball, so for the couple, it is important for their three kids (ages six, seven and eight) to see them living healthy lives. “Our children go to the gym with us. We don’t take them there out of necessity, we take them there because we want them to form good habits. I believe children often do what their parents do, and we want to set a precedent for them,” says Nicholas.
One of the biggest things Nicholas has witnessed since beginning CrossFit is the change in his body. His muscles are bigger and he’s much stronger. His orthopedic issues have nearly vanished. “I have fewer aches and pains. To see the health benefits is amazing; not to mention, CrossFit is fun. I want to be the dad who can throw the ball with my son or run the court while playing basketball.”
The Power of Health, Wellness, and Community
At 5-feet 11-inches tall and 220 pounds, there is no doubt Nicholas is getting stronger by the day. He admits that it’s a daily effort. “I love Mountain Dew. I used to drink like seven cans a day in college,” says Nicholas. He’s since stopped drinking it, cut a lot of carbohydrates and sugar out of his diet, and added more cardio to his workout regimen. Before a competition, he likes to drop some weight so he can move faster.
The commitment to being healthy isn’t the main reason Nicholas is passionate about CrossFit, though. It’s the community. “We love our gym community. When we go there, we are surrounded by people who value health, overall wellness, friendship, and family. It’s just a good place to be.”