Jason Burgoon – Owner/Lead Trainer
He was my dad.
And, all I ever wanted to do was make him proud.
My earliest memories are working with him on Saturday mornings. At each job we worked together, he’d say to everyone (about me), “Watch how high he can kick!”
He taught me to work hard, work honestly, treat people with respect, and to always stick up for people smaller or weaker than me, if they needed it.
What he taught me has guided my life.
When I was 13, I was on a bike crossing 44th Ave and University in Columbia Heights, Minn. (where I grew up), when I was struck by a van going 55mph. I was trapped beneath it and dragged for more than 300 feet.
Everyone was convinced I would die. I remember hearing people say it. I just wanted to sleep. Little did I know, if I would have fallen asleep, I would have died.
I was in the hospital for a very long time. My whole body was injured. Everywhere. And the worst injury was my spine. I was very frail…so frail that doctors believed I would never walk again.
I laid in a hospital bed for uncountable days at a 20 degree incline, first wearing a brace molded from plaster to support my upper body; I couldn’t sit up without it. Then they transitioned me into a rock-hard plastic, upper-body cast that I lived in for a long time.
But I couldn’t accept what I was experiencing – laying in bed, not walking, or being able to go to the bathroom by myself. I was determined to make sure that wasn’t my story.
One day, when I was by myself in the hospital, my determination got the best of me. I tried to walk to the couch near the bed. But I instantly fell. I remember being in so much pain, crying, with nobody to help. That was the moment when I promised my higher power that, if I could walk again, I would help others. Always.
After hundreds and hundreds of hours, with the help, love, and support of many – including my father – I was able to walk, talk, and lift my arms again. I worked hard every single day to get stronger. And, six months later, I was almost 100 percent. I proved the doctors wrong.
But all through the tragedy of my own accident, something else was going on. My dad – my best friend – was very sick. For years, he headed to the gym to workout so he could feel better. Early on, none of us knew that he had cancer…and, ultimately, the gym wouldn’t help. Even with brain surgery, the cancer couldn’t be removed. During his time in hospice, he told me that education was important, that he believed in me, and that I would change lives.
Cancer took my dad’s life when I was only 15 years-old, almost three years after the accident that could’ve killed me.
Thankfully, 15 years old wasn’t too young to permanently imprint my life…and remind me that I could do for others what my dad did for me.
After the accident, doctors said I would never be able to lift weights – that the compression could be crippling– so I learned correct form. I knew food was my emotional crutch – so I learned about nutrition. I knew pain, hurt, anger, and stress – so I worked out to clear my head.
I knew all of those things I’d learned and experienced could help others.
Eventually, I took my dad’s words about education seriously when I took steps to become a trainer. I had every intention of keeping promises I made to my father. I was committed to doing what he always knew I could do.
After becoming a trainer, I worked at a few different places, but passion led me back to the gym where my father always worked out when he was sick. I enjoyed talking to long-time members because I knew, at some point during their workouts over the years, they might have spoken to my father.
I worked hard and became the number one trainer in the company. When the company was sold, and the building was shut down, I knew it was time for me to open my own gym: a safe environment where lives would be changed, a place overflowing with encouragement, a place where everyone shows how much they care for each other, a place where one person can make a difference, a place where people never give up – no matter what…a place where clients reach their own goals, and then are driven to create more goals, for more reasons than they could list.
This wasn’t the end my creating opportunity and hope from tragedy. In fall 2013 I broke my kneecap (jumping over a rope, of all things). I didn’t know it was broken. But, nine months later I found myself under a scalpel to fix the knee that my surgeon said would be ruined if I ever lifted heavy weights again. I’d heard a similar phrase before. And I wasn’t willing to let a diagnosis keep me from my goals. I proved my surgeon wrong. I lifted again after that surgery. Heavy. I also forced myself get on a bike again (although indoors, at first) to rehab my knee, and I found a new appreciation for the low-impact, high-reward role of cycling in my training plan.
As a result of the knee rehab, the realization of new opportunities and goals I’d never thought of being my own, became a reality. We opened a cycling studio (Torque) because I wanted others to experience the strength-building confidence I’d experienced during my own rehab. Additionally I finished my first 70.3 Iron Man (which is a GIANT challenge when you’ve never been a runner, have avoided bikes at all costs, and don’t know how to swim!). The experiences reminded me that there are always new goals to pursue…and that our goals never stop evolving.
Most importantly, for me, I hope my daughter understands that a healthy lifestyle makes us feel better and stronger – regardless of what life throws at us. I want her to learn and grow through both challenges and triumphs. And I want her to inspire others with her compassion and giant heart, which get stronger with each year she ages.
This business has never been about money for me. That’s why no one is ever pressured into purchasing anything. All I’ve ever wanted to do is keep my promise and make my father proud…changing lives every day…just as he told me I would.