My name is Chris Friesen and my family and I own Average Joe’s Fitness in Niverville, MB.
This is not only the the story of my health and fitness journey, but also (more importantly) my story of darkness, despair, mental illness and, ultimately, redemption and healing…
I have been obsessed with martial arts and self-defense training, as well as building muscle and losing body fat for over 25 years now, ever since seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Lee on screen as a kid. I loved the way they looked, their rippling muscles and abs that popped, as well as the power they seemed to possess. I craved those things, and this was the catalyst that started me on my fitness journey all those years ago.
I was quite small and weak as a kid, and I was picked on by some of the bigger kids in my school as I was growing up. Even though I was small, I was skinny fat at a bodyweight of 118 pounds when I graduated from high school, and I was never able to see my abs. I hated the feeling of people being able to take advantage of me at will, I hated how I looked, and this ignited a fire within me to change, no matter what it took.
My first foray into the fitness world involved the Charles Atlas program, which I ordered through an ad in a “G.I Joe” comic book. The program involved using a series of isometric muscle contractions, but it didn’t work out the way I had initially hoped or give me the body I was searching for. I got a bit stronger from the program, but other than it only served to make me hungrier for the physique I was craving.
This was followed shortly after by my first weight set, a York Barbell set with plastic plates and collars, and a cheap bench that I got from my parents at the age of 14.
I was elated, and convinced that this was my ticket to the physique I wanted, and the power and confidence that would come along with it!
After high school, I moved in with a couple of friends, and our evenings of partying eventually turned into days as well, and I started selling drugs to be able to finance this lifestyle.
This kick started my fitness and fat loss goals once again, and while I didn’t stop partying, I slowed down and stopped selling drugs.
I spent my lunch hours at the gym, learning proper technique and chasing the physique that I had always wanted.
I was in a pretty good place at this moment in my life, and I actually ended up meeting my future wife of 18 years during this time as well.
My insurance office was located in a shopping mall, and she worked as a waitress at a restaurant that was situated across the hallway. I ended up eating a LOT of greasy food during the time that she worked there, mostly as an excuse to talk and interact with her.
While my time in the gym enabled me to get some modest success in getting stronger, building muscle and losing body fat eluded me.
Add to this the fact that I was eating greasy diner food almost daily and I slowly started gaining weight around my midsection, even though I was training quite hard at the time.
Life was great, but my old demons started to show their ugly faces once again. I had suffered a shoulder injury from bench pressing too heavy a few years earlier, and I had surgery to try and fix the problem in same year we got married.
The recovery period from the surgery involved powerful narcotic painkillers, and I discovered that I loved the feeling that these powerful drugs gave me.