There’s no missing Ian Montalvo in the gym. At 6’3” and 230 lbs., he’s a self-described “large human being” but his personality is even bigger. He’s funny, loud and just an all around positive guy, always motivating others and telling them they can finish whatever WOD they’re suffering through. But it was through his own tragedy that he learned the value of staying positive to get through the toughest times.
Ian was your average high school kid. He was active playing basketball and football and running cross-country. In college, he lifted weights without any real direction and played recreational basketball. He started lifting heavier and decided he wanted to transfer to Central Connecticut State University and be a walk-on to the football team. He was 21 years old and 6’3”, 260 lb. But Ian never had that opportunity.
On November 7, 2006, Ian crashed his motorcycle on a side road just two miles from his home and had to be transported to the hospital via LIFE STAR. In the ICU for eight days, he had a broken left wrist, torn ligaments in his left ankle, a torn ACL and PCL in his right knee, lateral and medial meniscus damage, legion tears on his right femur, road rash and cuts everywhere, a concussion and, to top it all off, poison sumac he got from laying on the side of the road. Ian was out of work for 13 months, which consisted of two knee surgeries and a year of physical therapy to regain the function of his right leg. “I was non-weight bearing for 12 weeks after my first surgery,” says Ian. “The scar tissue was so bad in my right knee that I couldn’t straighten it.”
Unable to do any fitness during this time, Ian had lost all motivation of working out and started to gain weight. “After going back to work, I ate and drank my face off,” he says, who now at 22 was trying to make up for the time he missed during his year recovery. “I was out of school, had a ton of debt from the accident, so I did typical young kid shit. I experienced a traumatic event and honestly was just happy to be alive. So I played that card for a while.” His health wasn’t a focus at all, gaining about 75 lbs. during that year. He weighed 297 lbs., the most he’s ever weighed.
After seeing his first stretch mark on his stomach, Ian rejoined a globo gym. With no direction, minimal motivation and lots of restrictions from his accident—his wrist wouldn’t bend and his knee was extremely painful with the extra weight on his frame—it was a rough start. He asked his friend Caleb to work out with him and help motivate him. During their sessions, Caleb introduced Ian to this weird rep scheme, 21-15-9 and other CrossFit-esque workouts. He also found out Caleb was going to a gym in Glastonbury that did CrossFit and Ian wanted to try.
February 2009 was Ian’s first day of CrossFit. His first WOD was Kelly, which consists of 5 rounds of a 400-meter run, 30 box jumps and 30 wall ball shots. Because of his knee, he had to modify everything. “It took me about 39 minutes and I definitely didn’t do all the reps,” remembers Ian. But he was hooked. “I loved that we didn’t touch a weight and I was destroyed from the workout, you know, in a good way.”
Ian felt that this was the first time in years he had done something productive for his health. He joined the small CrossFit gym and was soaking up everything he could find about CrossFit. He started training at CrossFit Milford but in 2011, got a new job in the Farmington area and wanted to find a gym that was closer. His coach at the time mentioned Brendan Marolda was one of his athletes and he should look into Yankee CrossFit. Once he started training with Brendan, he realized how great of an athlete he was. “Having BAM around was cool because he had so much knowledge. And he was such a great athlete to train with.”
Ian eventually moved to Farmington and joined Yankee CrossFit with his wife Amanda, who is a registered dietitian and Yankee’s nutritionist. Amanda completely changed the way he thought about eating. “During the first 4-5 years of CrossFit, my lifestyle didn’t support being an athlete. I wasn’t conscious of recovery. As Amanda learned more in school [she was attending UCONN to become a registered dietitian] I learned more,” he says. He attributes intermittent fasting and flexible eating for making him the athlete and person he is today. “It’s a perfect balance for me to hold myself accountable while maintaining my sanity and giving me the most energy output.”
Becoming a Yankee CrossFit member also made Ian appreciate Brendan as a coach, not just a training partner. “Brendan is a really good coach,” says Ian. “He’s a great guy that motivates you but he doesn’t push you; he creates a path. He’s like the kiddy lanes at the bowling alley. He provides the lane for you—if you bare left or right, he’s there to guide you—but you ultimately have to find your own path.”
Ian has definitely found his own path with CrossFit. Now, at 30 years old, he is part of Yankee’s competitive team and is stronger and fitter than ever. He is even squatting to full depth, something he never thought he’d do again. “I finally reached a point where I’m satisfied,” he says.