I was 25 years old when my partner and I decided to get a divorce. At the time, I was young and naive and I thought that I could treat it like a regular break up. Some might say that was arrogant, which is not far off. At the time, I was also dealing with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease which causes severe and irreparable brain damage, as a result of repeated head injuries, though I didn’t know much about it. I thought I was just moody and needed to suck it up. The deeper I got into the divorce process and dealing with CTE, the more I became an unfamiliar version of myself.
At the time, I was completing renovations to open a gym named after my ex-husband, developing horrible drinking and eating habits, trying to understand this beast that is CTE, and continuing to be a positive voice for my community, all while also trying to get back to a version of myself that I knew I had lost touch of. It was a lot to handle. All the emotions I didn’t think I would ever feel, with time I felt. The anger that I was certain I wouldn’t experience, I eventually did. The regret I was positive I wouldn’t endure, well, I endured it.
Figuring out how to move forward felt impossible. It was one of the biggest lows in my life and I didn’t know how to get out of it. I remember the day everything changed for me. I was a training client who was also a friend, and I was being negative in a conversation about meeting new people. He straight up said to me “sounds like you’re the common denominator.” When I heard that, it struck something in me. It was the push I needed to get back to myself. I adjusted my schedule and made time for lifting weights. I started to dedicate more time to moving and training. I found myself falling in love again; with myself, with movement, with lifting weights, with my friends and family, and with the work I was doing. My mind became clearer and less restricted and I was finding myself again.
Movement changed my life in such an amazing way and I don’t know where I would be without it. When I had lost myself in the hardships I experienced, it was movement that brought me back. It has played a positive and impactful role in my life. I’m now working toward getting to the CrossFit games where I want to be one of the first Black Queer athletes to podium. And as founder of DyerFitness in Burnaby, I work to bring humans of all different ways of life together through movement. I want to use my platform to be a positive and fun representation for those who identify with my story and I want to inspire people to move through the obstacles they face in life. Movement is for everyone, and when you’re feeling lost, it’s always there to help you find yourself.
Johny Dyer-Daniel is founder of DyerFitness in Burnaby, a gym that focuses on serving the community and bringing all humans of different ways of life together through movement, and is currently working toward getting to the CrossFit games where he wants to be one of the first Black Queer athletes to podium.