MILITARY MATTERS: Former Ft. Benning drill sergeant, one of world’s fittest people leading CrossFit in Phenix City

MILITARY MATTERS: Former Ft. Benning drill sergeant, one of world’s fittest people leading CrossFit

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - After an early end to his military career on Fort Benning, a former soldier is getting a second chance thanks to CrossFit. Now, he is one of the fittest people in the world.

His home away from home is this gym, but it used to be the battlefield. Former Staff Sgt. Elliott Quinones, owner of CrossFit Deprivation in Phenix City, spent almost a decade in the Army, including three deployments to the Middle East, with plenty of scary times.

“We were in probably one of the worst parts of Afghanistan where there was constant firefights and things like that," Quinones said.

He eventually became a drill sergeant on Fort Benning, but a mistake ended his military career.

“I went out to go party, then got a DUI. I thank every day that cop that stopped me and gave me a DUI because you’re angry, you’re upset, you think life is over, but he probably ended up saving my life," Quinones admitted.

Depression, and a military mentor’s advice, led him to CrossFit and leading others, like he did in the Army.

“That taught me to really train and work with people, so it was a really seamless transition coming to a CrossFit gym," Quinones said.

Dozens of CrossFit competitions later, Quinones is listed in the top five percent of fittest people on Earth.

Quinones gave News Leader 9′s Jason Dennis a tour of CrossFit Deprivation in east Alabama, taking him through a movements screen, which is an initial assessment they do for everyone to check for injuries and flexibility before workouts.

“We see current military, military veterans who are looking for that feeling they felt before where they wake up in the morning and did PT with their group," the former Staff Sgt. told us.

And they have seen an uptick in active duty soldiers at CrossFit Deprivation because of the Army’s tougher new combat fitness test.

“[Soldiers] are seeing that the old push-up, sit-up, run, in training for that a month before, it is not going to work. They actually have to train functional movements and that’s what Crossfit’s about," Quinones said.

As a soldier, he was his heaviest at nearly 240 pounds, but now weighs 180.

“In the Army, [I] was actually the worst shape I was ever in. I don’t credit that to the Army, they give you the tools, you have to use them," Quinones said. “We’re going to give [people attending the gym] all of the tools they need to be successful and actually crush that New Year’s resolution. It just may happen a month after.”

The former soldier talks about long-term fitness goals for anyone on the latest episode of the “Run The Race” podcast. Click here to listen to any of the 13 episodes of this weekly podcast focused on fitness and faith or listen to Quinones’ episode below.

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