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Ed Crowley Suffers Five Heart Attacks, Turns to CrossFit, Loses 40 Pounds, Puts Diabetes into Remission

April 19, 2022 by
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ed Crowley
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After Ed Crowley suffered his fifth heart attack and underwent his second open heart surgery in 2015, he decided it was time to make some changes.

A 250-pound Type 2 diabetic at the time, Crowley joined Planet Fitness and started “to get healthy on my own,” he said.

But something was missing.

“I wasn’t getting any help at that gym, and I needed help,” said Crowley, now 66.

He stumbled across a local CrossFit gym, but because of his serious health issues the owner at the time sent him to a CrossFit nutrition coach first, and told Crowley to lose 25 pounds and get a bit healthier before he started training at the gym.

“I was so unhealthy and he was worried about training me until I got healthier,” explained Crowley, who immediately called nutrition coach Jenny Hernandez.

Crowley did what he was told, focused on his nutrition and lost 25 pounds, and was then introduced to CrossFit Coach Danielle Sleva at what is now CrossFit Perception in Mesa, AZ.

“The gym had a whiteboard where people wrote down their goals, and I remember telling Danielle I didn’t know what to write. So I wrote down that I want to live,” Crowley said.

Four years later, Crowley is down 40 pounds from when he first met with Fernandez, his A1C—average blood glucose levels—have dropped from 9 to 5.2, which is considered prediabetic, and he says “CrossFit, and specifically Danielle, saved my life.”

“Danielle is such an amazing coach. She has done more for me than any of the doctors have…Nobody, none of my friends or family thought I could do CrossFit. Nobody had any faith in me, except Danielle and Jenny,” he added. 

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ed Crowley

Not Without Obstacles

From 2018 to 2019, Crowley saw fast and furious gains training with Sleva. By 2019, he was able to deadlift 175 pounds and do a half Murph in 30 minutes.

He was as fit as he had been in years, he explained, but then 2020 hit and Crowley was diagnosed with prostate cancer, a diagnosis that led to 39 doses of radiation. At the same time, his gym closed because of COVID.

But Crowley, who was still going through radiation, was determined to continue to prioritize his fitness, so he built a home gym and carried on as usual.

The week after he finished his radiation, however, he suffered yet another heart attack, which eventually led to having a pacemaker placed in his heart, and most recently, Crowley underwent stent surgery.

These recent episodes have left Crowley weaker than his 2018 self, and although it’s discouraging and frustrating, he said he doesn’t think he would still be here without the work he put in at the gym in the last four years.

So, he will continue on this path because Crowley knows a good diet and CrossFit are what will give him his best chance at continuing to live, all the while providing him a purpose and much needed encouragement. 

“When I joined the gym, I was the least physically fit person in that gym, and I still am,” he said, laughing. “But I don’t care. I go in and I take my spot on the floor, and even if I’m doing 75-pound deadlifts, everyone is there encouraging me,” he said.

His message to others suffering from ongoing health problems is simple: “Don’t give up.”

“I have a desire to show others what heart attack patients can do. I have old friends who don’t do anything, but sit around and watch TV all day and then they die. That’s not me. I’m not going to give up on myself.”

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