Photo of Zack DeBaltzo doing CrossFit while wearing oxygen. Used to illustrate the blog post, "Cross Strength".Today marks a new milestone in my life that I am incredibly thankful for and honored to share. But first, the original testimony…

Just about two years ago, I thought I had life figured out. I thought I was happy. I had avoided addiction that seemed to plague my family, I had overcome multiple divorces and conquered a vast family tree, I had been a fighter of Cystic Fibrosis all of my life and was winning thanks to CrossFit (so I thought), and I was loved and thought I knew what love was and how to give it back. I was in control; But my standard came from the people around me and not the standards set by God through the life of Jesus.

It wasn’t until reading The Love Dare and following it day by day, trying to show my (then) girlfriend true, Biblical love, that I began to realize how selfish I was. I broke down after a horrible fight with Farrel on February 17, 2016, and surrendered my life to Christ through reading a prayer on day 20 of that book. I knew that what I was trying to accomplish in my own strength was not working; I needed a heart transplant from Christ to experience the joy that I saw in my pastor’s life, as well as Farrel’s.

One of the first things God revealed to me was how twisted my perception of women was. I had been using women and treating them as objects for years. Jesus broke my addiction of pornography and masturbation nearly instantly, but the lust had not left my heart in the months following that prayer.

As a CrossFit trainer, it was my job to watch form; To literally examine people for flaws, and too often, that meant staring at half-naked women. The fitness industry normalized booty shorts, skintight pants, and push-up bras as appropriate gym wear for women, and even the extremely family-conscious gym I was working in did little to stop it. And as much as men don’t want to admit that kind of environment shapes your perception of women…Well, I’ll just say that it affected mine.

I vividly remember a fight between Farrel and I because after a workout session, I told her she could work harder to firm up an area of her body. What kind of man says that?! One that is steeped in a culture focused on physical appearances. I knew then that I had to change my perception, and for me, it meant leaving my job. But it wasn’t the fitness industry that was the problem – It is that the heart of man is desperately wicked. I was still sick and I needed a deeper dive into who God was, and what it is to be truly loved.

God gave me a vision in 2017 that, when the time was right, I would return to being a trainer. I would own land and a building to start the first men’s-only CrossFit affiliate. That I would be able to not only coach men in the ways of fitness, but also instill Biblical values through Bible study and by sharing the love of God. I am incredibly excited that today, I get to start that journey…

Photo of Zack DeBaltzo leading Florida Cystic Fibrosis Great Strides participants in an exercise warm-up. Used to illustrate the blog post, "Cross Strength". Thank you to my wife for sticking with me through all of the struggles – Face-to-face so many times with death, fear, and uncertainty in unimaginable circumstances. Thank you to Crossroads Church for taking me in at my most vulnerable and being the family that I needed after moving away from my blood. And THANK YOU ABBA for shaping me through the storm! I can’t even begin to express how great our God is and how thankful I am for how far He has brought me in these couple of short years, and especially the last couple of months with my physical health. I am empowered and equipped to do Your will with the talents, gifts, and opportunities you have given me.

Send them, Father – All of those who I can help. In Jesus’ name, help me to build an army of Christ followers and to be a better reflection of Your Son every day. Amen.