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In 2014, Reebok introduced a new brand mark: the Reebok Delta. The Reebok Delta represents the physical, mental and social transformation that happens through fitness. In this series, we explore how people in the Reebok Community #LiveTheDelta. Today’s story comes from Matt O’Toole, President, Reebok Brand.

Question: What role has fitness played in your life?

Matt: I grew up in Chicago – we were big sports fans and I spent my summers going to see the Cubs, paying $2 to watch games from the bleachers. I played football, basketball and baseball, though I was never particularly great at any of them. After college, I got into running, and at one point had a streak where I ran every single day for 9 years – I never missed a day. That streak ended when I started to develop back and knee problems.

Question: What role does fitness play in your life now?

Matt: Four years ago, my neighbors kept telling me I had to try this cool exercise program, so I went to CrossFit New England for a trial session. Mel Ockerby led us through a light WOD (workout of the day) and gave us an intro to CrossFit, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Even though the workout was short, it was surprisingly tough, and it made a lot of sense to me when Mel said that our bodies are meant to move a certain way – pushing, squatting and pulling – and we don’t need to augment that with machines.

When I think back to running, I got to the point where I plateaued because I was just checking the box rather than testing myself. I think a lot of what we are about at Reebok is getting to know yourself in a different way. Tough fitness is something where you test your limits, rather than just go and get something done. That’s been the big mind shift – I can challenge myself, but have the built-in support group of the community at the same time.

Question: Has this shift in your fitness life transformed your personal life?

Matt: Once I started feeling that sense of accomplishment in the gym, and felt what it was like to push my limits, I wanted that in other aspects of my life. Being a father is the most important role in my life, and without a doubt, my relationship with my kids has changed since I started CrossFit. I might come home exhausted after a day of work, but I want to rally rather than sit on the couch. My kids are such a gift, and my accomplishments in fitness makes me realize that it’s not just about doing what’s required, it’s about doing what makes me proud.

If you were to ask my kids, I think they’d say there’s a new authenticity to me. The hardest things to do in life sometimes aren’t the physical things, but the emotional things. To be vulnerable with my kids, to show them I’m not perfect, and I don’t always have the answer, that’s one of the biggest challenges I face. Letting whoever is in your life into a more vulnerable place – a place that’s real and authentic – that’s tough. But now my kids have seen this side of me and know me better and I feel I know them better as well.

Question: How has your fitness transformation changed your professional life?

Matt: I’m big into the idea that it’s not whether you fail or succeed, but that you went into the arena and gave it your all. I’m not the best at double-unders, so it’s really exhilarating when I’m able to string a few together. On the other hand, there are times when I’m frustrated because I’m not able to lift as much as I’d like. But I’ve come to realize that what matters is that I’m working on it and trying to improve.

That’s the great thing about tough fitness and about the mentality at Reebok – that people are willing to put it all out there and try. If it works that’s great, and if it doesn’t, we’ll learn from it and make changes for the next time. At Reebok, it’s less about the role you serve and more about your role in the community. It’s something powerful that’s happening at Reebok.

Question: How important do you think fitness is to our lives?

Matt: We are physical beings. We’re evolved animals, so being physical is required for us to live a full life. When that physical part of your life is missing, you feel deficient in other parts of your life. What it leads to for me is that you are much more alive and on fire when you’re living this way. This is what we’re meant to do. That’s the human existence that I believe God envisioned – an existence where we are fully alive.

Matt O’Toole is President of the Reebok Brand.

This post originally appeared [HERE]

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