It’s taken me a while to be able to write this blog. Nearly 10 months in fact! But I thought December was a good time to reflect upon the year. I started writing several times and just wasn’t in the right place to finish it let alone publish it. And for some reason, I couldn’t keep writing blogs until I had finished this one. It was important to me to publish this one and I didn’t want to lose it by continuing to write other content.
This last 12-18 months has sent me a very interesting set of experiences, including my first taste of grief as an adult. Last summer my dad’s bowel cancer came back after 22 years cancer free. He eventually passed away this September. At the time my dad was going through major surgery last September, my childhood/teenage best friend died in a motorbike accident. Then in February Grizzly passed away in the gym.
I didn’t know Grizzly very well, however, we had developed a lovely rapport over the time he had been a member of the gym and I had grown fond of him as person and was in awe of the way he was documenting his fitness journey. His passing was a shock to many people, even those who didn’t know him so well. I think this is testament to the person that he was, he came across as such a warm, kind, gentle and funny man. I very much enjoyed the rapport he and I developed.
I remember Grizzly’s first day as a member of the gym. He was a little nervous. He had been a client of Phil the barber, The Bearded Barber, for some time and Phil introduced him to the gym. I remember trying to make him feel a little more at ease with being in the gym. Pierre, the gym director, took him under his wing to help him out.
One reason Grizzly’s passing was such a shock to me was that he died in the gym… a place where he was trying to better his health! It felt so wrong. So horribly ironic. Until the post mortem had been received, I felt a certain sense of guilt wondering if this 'thing' (being active) that was meant to help improve people’s lives had failed Grizzly and left a hole in the hearts of his loved ones.
When the news of the post mortem came back to reveal that Grizzly had a large, strong and healthy heart and that what caused his death was an aneurysm, a ticking time bomb that could have gone off at any point, it was a little easier to reconcile what had happened.
Grizzly had taken to the gym and was really embracing it. He started documenting his fitness journey via Instagram. I loved his Insta account, his humour and personality really came through.
Three of my favourite posts include:
What a beast - he's off again! That's me that is doing a little cardio finisher. I suspect there are easier ways to move a tyre but I haven't sussed it out yet. Rolling maybe? #tyreflip
Look at him go, the man's a machine. 80kg warm up for a bit of deadlifting @ 100kg. Not up to my max but working on my form for a week or two before pushing on again.
Lot's of other little PRs today for a total volume of 13,810kg. #backdayworkout
Don't worry skinny people, we haven't come to the gym to eat you! We're here to work out too! #fitfamily
Due to his commitment and enthusiasm for training, his wife (Lucy) and daughter (Jess) also joined the gym. They were with him on that fateful day in February this year. Given that the aneurysm was a ticking time bomb, I feel it was a good thing that they were there with him in the last few hours of his life as it could have happened anywhere, anytime.
Although I didn’t know Grizzly very well, his passing upset me. It was hard to understand and make sense of someone only a few years older than me passing away and leaving a hole in the lives of his friends and family, in particular, his lovely wife. I cannot imagine her grief. Lucy, my heart will forever go out to you and Jess.
The immediate thought when Grizzly passed away was that it must have been something to do with his heart. Although this was not the case, Pierre took the decision to raise money for an automatic defibrillator for the gym. It is now in the gym with a plaque to remember Grizzly. This was a really positive outcome from a tragic situation.
Phil the Barber created a t-shirt (clothing is another business avenue of Phil’s) which was sold to help raise funds and the gym held a fitness session in Grizzly’s honour where donations were also collected. Lucy and Jess honoured the gym with their attendance for the event.
I am pleased I got to know Grizzly whilst he was a member of the gym. His persona was so warm and kind. I was very much in awe of his fitness journey and I feel he was a good role model for anyone wanting to achieve a more active lifestyle.
On the goals wall of the gym Lucy has written this:
Lucy, I know that you make Grizzly proud every day and he will be looking out for you and Jess forever and a day.
I am so sorry for your tragic loss. Love and best wishes to you and your family.
Rest in Peace Grizzly xxx