6 years ago I was a NYC police officer. On memorial day weekend while making a routine stop in NYC my partner and I came across what we didn’t know at the time was a wanted gang member. Within seconds a fight erupted as we attempted to place him in cuffs. During the fight, I tore the labrum in my left and right hip. Overnight my life changed forever. 

I believed I was Invincible, but only four years into my career I underwent three surgeries and extensive physical therapy that eventually forced me to step away from my career.

I was facing having both hips replaced before the age of 30 and after finding out that a hip replacement usually lasts 15 years, compounded with my young age; my doctors advised that I wait as long as possible to replace them and focus on alternative therapies to deal with the constant pain. 

I lost the ability to do anything high impact. Pretty much any sport I enjoyed before had been taken away; running, surfing, ice hockey, and beach volleyball. Swimming was something I truly enjoyed, yet the kicking motion in the pool was extremely painful, so I had to swim with just my arms and a pull buoy. I was left searching for something that would keep me healthy and fuel my desire for competition.

I began physical therapy to strengthen my hips and compensate for the lack of cartilage in either hip. It helped, but it wasn’t nearly enough. I was still missing intensity. I knew of the Concept2 rowing machine but had the naive idea it was for old arthritic people. I quickly realized two things. As it turns out, I now had arthritis and if old people are using this, they must be in great shape. 

More importantly, I discovered I could perform workouts on the rowing machine with no hip pain.  I had always enjoyed running and swimming so to find a form of cardio that worked my entire body was life changing. The Concept2 helped in more ways than just the physical. It helped me through things no one should have to face. 

In a very short time, I lost 3 people very close to me. One of them being my best friend Keith. We grew up together and even went into the police academy together. He was like a brother to me. I never thought the day would come when I couldn’t swing by his house to watch hockey or football. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him or my other friends who passed. 

rowing for injuryDealing with the loss of close friends was, and is still, not easy. But whenever I was down, I would use the Concept2 to clear my mind.  When you’re on that machine during a workout, it’s the only thing on which you can focus. The machine trains you to have a strong mental game and to push through the task at hand.

Another time I was inspired to push through a hard time came when my brother who was training for his first IRONMAN was paralyzed when a car hit his bike. Here was a lifetime tri-athlete who was fighting to walk again. Thankfully he succeeded against all odds and regained the ability to walk and amazingly completed his IRONMAN a year and a half later.  

Having discovered the Concept2 I needed a community with which I could share workouts and experiences. Fortunately, in November 2015 while living in San Diego for a month I found Dark Horse Rowing. 

rowing for injury

The months prior to moving there I had looked into Shane Farmer.  He had a lot of experience and knowledge with the Concept2 so I signed up for his class at Crossfit Invictus.  

Just when I thought I couldn’t love this machine anymore I was proven wrong. At the time none of my close friends liked to row. I mostly rowed alone each week. Being in a class with a range of people from competitive CrossFit athletes to people who were just looking for a great workout was just what I was looking for. In addition, with Shane coaching, you could feel his passion and dedication to his craft. 

After that first class, I knew I wanted to stay involved even when I went back to the east coast. I signed up for the Dark Horse Rowing Crew and all I can say is that it has been nothing short of amazing.

You get an incredible rowing program that includes videos of how to perform the drills and expert coaching from the best in the business. I’m now part of the Dark Horse community and it is unreal to see different people from all walks of life sharing their experiences, PR’s, and failures through rowing.

The community is really strong and it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. I plan to compete again next year at the World Championships of indoor rowing, the C.R.A.S.H B’s in Boston. And with Dark Horse, I’m sure to PR.

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