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Athlete to Watch: Michael Mills

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Photographer: Sweat RX
Wodapalooza CrossFit

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All pictures by Photography by Lacey

Michael Mills

With Wodapoolza starting this week we wanted to take the time to highlight some of the athletes that will be throwing down in Miami this weekend.  Take a moment a learn a little bit about one of the shining stars of the adaptive athlete community.  If you think you can’t accomplish something, think again!

What got you into Functional Fitness?

I’ve always loved Functional Fitness. I grew up in the south where our chores were nothing but that. We had to chop wood, carry wood and push a lawnmower.  So, I was no stranger to hard work.
After getting paralyzed,  I knew that I had to incorporate that in my life for sure.  Pushing a wheelchair, transferring to and from, picking up my chair to put in my vehicle all was part of my everyday life and I had to do that without a choice.  So being strong wasn’t an option.  I love being able to pick up my kids, grabbing a handful of groceries and still pushing myself and all to the front door of my home..

What is your athletic background?

Before I was paralyzed, I rode a skateboard and that was it. After my injury in 1993, I started powerlifting for strength. Shortly after the 1996 Olympics, I started wheelchair racing. I’ve raced over 150 road and track events in my racing career.
Three years ago I got into obstacle course racing and became the first paralyzed person to complete a Spartan Race. I did some of that crazy mess for three years and in that tike frame, I competed in the Summer Death Race, crawled up a mountain, completed a GORUCK Challenge and crawled the Rocky Steps in PA. All of those things were done when a lot of people said it couldn’t be done..  My most recent accomplishment was earned by pulling a 4798lb SUV the length of a football field in my wheelchair on 4/18/15 for Bert’s Big Adventure.  A non profit that raises money for children that have terminal and chronic illnesses. This pull earned me a world record and was the first of its kind.

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What program do you follow?

I follow a CrossFit mostly. I do go to my local gym and crawl a treadmill for core and endurance.  Try it if you think it sounds easy! LOL!

With several organizations adding adaptive divisions, how do you think that will impact that adaptive athlete community?

The more the merrier. I love the fact that there are people with disabilities getting involved!  It makes it all more world wide known. I want to see wheelchair and adaptive sports recognized as a sport not just some “feel good”  or “special” thing.  BRING ON THE COMPETITION!

Do you train part time or full time?

I train full time. I train 5 to 6 days a week. I have a career with the U.S. FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.  I also have a family.  I am married with three amazing kids. 14, 7 and 3. So, when people say they don’t have time to train, I laugh. You gotta make time.

What advice do you have for adaptive athlete that are possibly nervous about competing at one of these competitions?

Get out and try,  You’ll surprise yourself! It’s fun and it teaches you so much about yourself.  You will learn you’re capable of much more than you thought..  Competition bleeds into everyday life. It makes you stronger across the board…

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What competitions and events are you looking forward to in 2016?

I have Wodapalooza coming up.   (Click here for all details for Wodapalooza)
I have my 4th Annual Stone Mountain Crawl in February. The Hybrid Games at the end of the month of February. I have the Working Wounded Reginald Games in March.  Some local Crossfit comps and something really big I’m working on, but you’ll have to wait till February for that announcement.

Editor’s Note:  Michael Miller will also compete in the first wheelchair dual at Rush Club!  Click here for more information for information about Rush Club.

What have you learned from 2015 that you can use to make you a better person and athlete in 2016?
Keep trying!  Keep looking for new things!  Look outside the box and try something new.
Photos for the article provided by Photography by Lacey.

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