Tahlequah Daily Press

September 27, 2013

Woman commits to healthy lifestyle

Special Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Is it possible for Tahlequah to go from being one of the most out of shape communities in America to the most fit?

Weight control is a challenge many people struggle with, but a group in town is working to help everyone improve their overall fitness success.

April Martin is one of those success stories. She began her fitness journey when she weighed about 300 pounds. On Feb. 11, Martin, 34, took the steps that have changed her life.

“I used to tell people I was two cheeseburgers away from a heart attack,” Martin said.

Now 60 pounds lighter with more to go, she is proud to also be a good example for her 15-year-old daughter.

“Before, I couldn’t get off my couch without losing my breath, now I come to five classes a week,” she said. “My family was afraid of me having a heart attack.”

A friend, Megan White, challenged Martin two years ago to work out, but it wasn’t until White achieved drastic changes in her looks, her attitude and her life, Martin said, that she took it seriously.

“It’s the best decision I ever made, now I’ll never look back,” she said.

The camaraderie among those working out, as well as the variety of the workouts, appeal to Martin. The workout varies from Olympic-style power lifting to cardio.

“I love the people here, it’s a family,” she said. “There’s not a negative person here. And whether you’re first or last, everyone finishes together. If you’re among the last, those who finished first will come back and finish with you.”

She’s continued to not smoke and changed her eating choices, eliminating processed carbohydrates, anything white, like bread and potatoes, and pop which she’s replaced with fresh fruits, vegetables, almonds, water and lots of meat, especially bacon.

“There are zero carbs in bacon,” she said.

The man behind the movement to see local residents fit and happy works to saves lives both professionally and passionately.

It was an article in Men’s Health Best Life magazine that motivated Josh Brinkley to find a way to encourage and educate people.

“The story listed a top 10 of overweight communities, with Oklahoma and Northwest Arkansas holding a majority of the spots,” Brinkley said.

A firefighter and co-owner of CrossFit Tahlequah with Barry Dotson, Brinkley said the plan he’s put together is not so much a workout program but a fitness movement for the whole community.

“This is my calling,” said Brinkley. “This is the town I am absolutely in love with, and the people are my family. Like my pastor says ‘ain’t nothin’ more important than family.’”

Brinkley said he’s felt a huge calling to help this community, but it wasn’t until the magazine article came out that he knew what that was.

“I saw a very overweight child fall and couldn’t get back up on his own one time in WalMart; it absolutely crushed me,” he said. “I decided that the fight against obesity was my fight, too. I realized several years ago that our town was special and we could fight it together.”

The goal is for Tahlequah to become the Fittest Town in America by 2020

“The ‘program’ is still in development, so it is what the people involved decide it is going to be,” Brinkley said. “But it will include education, redirection and action.”

While CrossFit Tahlequah shares the vision of QuahFit, it is a community-wide program, he said.

Contact Josh Brinkley at 426 S. Muskogee Ave. or (918) 931-9556.