Success Story: From Death's Door to Grinding it Out in the Gym
Iraq Veteran Corwyn Collier's amazing physical recovery will inspire you.
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Name: Corwyn Collier
Hometown: Stow, Ohio
Occupation: Social Studies Teacher
Weight Before: 130 pounds
Weight After: 180 pounds
“On May 23, 2009, my truck was hit by an improvised explosive device in Iraq,” says Corwyn Collier. “I was there with the military police. The bomb came completely through [the door] and I ended up sitting on top of it. It severed the artery in my right leg.” Collier blacked out from blood loss. When he awoke in a hospital in Germany, he was told that his wife was preparing to fly across the Atlantic to see him before he passed.
“They didn’t have enough blood at the hospital [to keep me alive],” he says. “They had to get other soldiers to donate [blood] right on the spot.” But the medical team in Germany was able to stabilize Collier, and one day later he was back in the States. He arrived in Washington, D.C., missing the fibula of his right leg, the fingers on his right hand, 35% of his right hamstring, and 25% of his left hamstring.
"I was in the hospital from May 27, 2009, to March 10, 2010,” says Collier, a former track star at the University of Southern Mississippi. “I had about 30 surgeries and cleanings. After two months I'd completely lost faith in everything. Some days I just wanted to die.”
Collier’s weight plummeted from 190 to a withered 130 pounds at his lowest. “At the two-month mark [the hospital staff] said, ‘all right, it’s time to walk,’” Collier recalls. “I stand up for, like, five seconds, and I’m bawling because I’m in so much pain. The turning point came when my wife pulled me aside and said, ‘You need to be the man you are. Stop letting this beat you.’ ”
That was the push Collier needed. Doctors said that people with his kind of injuries didn’t make it out of the hospital in under a year. He walked out after nine months. “I had two kids and a wife,” he says. “I just kept pushing myself.” The first year out of the hospital was filled with setbacks, but in September of 2012, Collier began “grinding in the gym” with the goal of making the 2016 Paralympic Games, competing in the bench press. He’s since cleaned up his diet, too, building his meals around lean proteins and cutting fat wherever he can.
Collier’s been dealt a difficult hand, but he’s made the most of it. If his drive thus far is any indication, the best is yet to come. “Everyone has a problem,” he says. “You’ve just got to find a way to beat it."
Collier's Best Advice:
Stop focusing on what you can’t do, and focus on what you can do. You’ll find that you can do a lot more than you think you can. For me, it’s motivating for my sons to see it— to see that their dad never gave up."
Collier's Chest Workout:
|Barbell Bench Press||4||8-10|
|Incline Dumbbell Press||4||8-10|
|Barbell Decline Press||4||8-10|
|Machine Chest Flye||3||6-8|
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