Hello, my name is Steve Slama. I am the owner of Wausau Cross Fit. I started my fitness journey at an early age. I was 14 when I first stepped into a gym, up to this point I grew up on the street. I was from a very violent home, my stepfather was an alcoholic and abusive. I had grown up learning to survive, we moved anytime the school officials would start to recognize what was going on. I had no direction, did not care, I was very angry at the world. I thought I would be dead by the time I was 18. My first time in the gym was the first time I knew where I belonged, Coach Chuck Horton made a impact on me right away, I started to have goals, I had someone like me who cared about my future. Although my changes did not happen overnight I would always remember the values I learned in the gym, I would call on Chuck many times before I changed.
It was a long process of jail and mistakes through my life; my instincts were more of an animal then of a human being. My abuse lasted till I was 7, then I was removed out of that situation where violence of such things that I care not to write about, into another situation that was mentally degrading with my father and my stepmom, being grounded and degraded on a everyday basis I had no one, it seemed I sank into a hateful mix of not trusting anyone and survival, it would take many years to break the mindset built into me at this early time. By the time I walked into Chuck Horton’s gym I had been in and out of juvenile jail most of my life, I had seen violence and drugs on such a scale that I was desensitized and had no empathy for anyone. I only knew that the strong survived and the weak were used by the strong. I guess the reason I am telling you this is because this is the reason why I do what I do today.
The boxing gym was my home for a long time and Chuck Horton would do his best with me but he knew that I was a hard case. He did not charge me for training although I knew he was running on a shoe string budget also I always felt bad about that, so I would try and get as many folks as I could in the seats at the fights. I slowly fell away with gang life and drugs. I could never shake the feeling that the world was an evil place and you needed to get them before they got you. I lost my sister in 2005 to a drug overdose; she was more like my daughter because I raised her. This was a huge blow to me. I already kept my distance from things I loved because I seemed to destroy whatever I touched. This was also when I decided I did not care anymore, I was feeling sorry for myself and needed an attitude adjustment. I knew that I was in a vicious circle and that between the drugs and everything I was going to die. I finally got a reprieve when I was busted for drugs in 2006, and once again my Coach was there to tell me to get my crap together.
The one thing he told me ” Do not let this be the defining moment in your life,” I decide then that I would not. I would not quit, I would change everything, he had always seen something in me I never seen myself, and I would help others to not go down the path I had. When I was released from prison I worked at GNC, I knew that I loved physical fitness and wanted to make a positive impact on others. I started to train again. I found that I liked MMA (mixed martial arts) and started to study at UWS University of Wisconsin Superior. I worked hard and trained hard, I decide to get another job to help. My children and me started to build relationships, I finally felt safe to be around them and my goals where being met. I decided to peruse a career in MMA and Coach Boxing, do some personal training. I decided to move to Wausau, WI. I worked three jobs I managed Anytime Fitness, I worked two restraints jobs on the side. I continued my training at a local MMA club, and I started to teach a Boxing class. That was when I knew, I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, Coaching. We had some youth there and I felt great training people and making a difference. I started to study and read as much as I could, I attended Penn Foster then AMF.
I started to really get involved and see changes in others from our training and time spent together. . I always kept contact with Chuck through the years! He has been my biggest supporter outside the Cross Fit community. Through training my clients and the kids I came across SEALFIT and another mentor Coach Brad McLeod, this was a program designed to bring people to the next level. Build integrity and leadership qualities. I wanted to challenge myself to be the best I could. I joined the program to learn how to be more efficient with my own clients. The program was another great moment in my life. After only about 6 months I wanted to share it with everyone. I wanted to condense the workouts and share this great thing with my clients, at this time I found Cross Fit and changed my life forever; seal FIT gave me the mindset to never quit and nothing cannot be done. Cross Fit was what I always wanted, a community of people driven by a healthy lifestyle and great goals, everyone supporting others, positive people all over the world holding each other up and making a difference. We can make a difference and we can change the world! I wanted to be involved, I told everyone around me I want to own a affiliate, I worried Cross Fit would not have me because of my felony, but I drove forward. I studied for 6 month to travel to Detroit for my L1, I saved every penny I had, and we drove up through the UP so we could save money not taking the ferry across to Michigan. We made everything in a little Dutch oven inside the hotel to save on food. I had big dreams! This was another great time in my life, I met some great Coaches at the L1 and said to myself I will do everything to emulate and learn from these great people.
After I took my test I was nervous for a long time. I passed! I was exited and immediately set my goal on my affiliate, I came up with a business plan, and I worked hard to read, practice, and learn even more. I wrote a letter to Cross Fit HQ to apply for my affiliate and again was worried about being turned away, they gave me a shot! They approved my affiliate Wausau Cross Fit! I was very exited. I set right away into finding a space to train. I found a spot in the back of a MMA gym. I had about 6 mats and one piece of each type of equipment with about 250# in weight. We stayed there for about 5 months; I knew that I needed a new location. I found a bigger spot and we got some more equipment and grew a little bit more. I got more involved with Coaching Boxing and working with kids again, we just did not have the space to do everything I wanted. So we moved to our current location. Now we have a great community, we are all about changing lives; we are very conservative with everything. I found our equipment used, we painted and did the electric ourselves. We have helped with community events and people with all types of goals. I work with troubled youth and sponsor them. The local probation agency sends me kids and I do the best to pay everything my Coach and Coaches along the way taught me. I went to get my Powerlifting Certification along with my Olympic lifting Certification.
I love Coaching and helping others. My community is very welcoming to anyone who stops in and visits, we are very grass roots. I want to do more, I want to work more with the kids, get everyone better equipment, new bags, headgear, gloves for our Boxers, Bars, Ropes, Rowers, etc. for the kids class. I want to go get my Cross Fit Kids Certification along with more education. I love this community, we are under attack from the same things I grew up with. Meth and heroin are the drugs of the day, kids in broken homes dealing with violence, no love, no support. We have a great community that has been going for almost 3 years now. I want to bring these folks in, I want to continue to make a difference in peoples lives. The extra space would allow us to offer more programs, the equipment would be used by everyone but would help with expanding the kids program, and we could hire more staff. We could offer tutors for the kids.
This is my fitness and life journey! I hope my story tells you why I want to do this. I have a passion for Cross Fit, it is not just a brand to me. I want to share it and all the programs we have with everyone. Recently I was able to take one of my youth back home for his first Boxing match, yes and Chuck was there. He held the mitts and warmed him up. Gave him the pep talk, I still watch and learn from him.