Gary Walker is an inspiration in many ways. First of all he runs all the time, ever week, rain or shine, and has completed multiple marathons. Beyond that, he coaches a marathon team, Team FX, teaching newbies and experienced runners alike how to complete a marathon. On top of that? His team and marathon training program raises money for the Austin Children’s Shelter every year.
Tell me a little about the history and inspiration for TEAM FX?
Team FX first formed from a simple equation of bringing some of my film industry colleagues together to do something I was already doing alone, running a marathon. I didn’t seem to fit into any other particular running culture, so I decided to create my own. I was fortunate enough to attract 12 people to try this group thing out. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was a start. The inspiration came out of my desire to rise into my physical and mental potential. Having achieved a pilot’s license and my advanced diving certification, it was time to go inside and focus on what was possible with endurance exercise.
The inspiration for raising money came from my desire to make this effort as meaningful as possible, and I chose to focus on children of abuse and neglect as a tribute to my sister Eve and her husband. When I was in college, Eve and Lewis became foster parents, along with their two very young children, and took in children who were removed from their homes due to life threatening abuse and neglect. The stories were horrific, unimaginable. In 1983, my sister drowned during a family outing, leaving everyone devastated. I only attempt in a small way to carry the torch she once lit. If I could make only an ounce of difference in just one life, it is just a nod toward what Eve did with her life. The slogan we use today is “Creating a World Without Child Abuse and Neglect … One Step at a Time.” Many people have come together to build this community of care and potential, and I am truly blessed to have been drawn to this effort.
How does your process work? Can anyone do this?
The quick answer is “yes”, with a few caveats. Our training program combines the Galloway Method of marathon training with my own personal experience. This lays the groundwork for even out-of-shape people to go from their couch to the marathon finish line in just 27 weeks. The main focus is on injury prevention. That’s why we put so much emphasis on coaching gradual, positive, low impact running form along with good nutrition, mental preparedness and streamlining warm ups, cool downs, and stretching techniques that keep us strong, flexible and in alignment. Every body is different, and there are some limitations on who should or should not attempt to train, but speed is never a concern with our group and many mal-alignments are coachable. The biggest obstacle is fear. But that can be conquered with adopting the positive mental and physical habits that we teach. I have very high hopes for most folks who have the mind to reach inside and achieve their highest potential, and I welcome anyone to ask me what’s possible for them.
Tell us about your coaching style and the culture of the group itself?
The culture is all about breaking down barriers and rising our potential as individuals, and the potential of a community. We are here as an example of the challenges and rewards that can be achieved when we liberate the highest potential of our minds, our bodies and our spirit. We are unified in our vision, our goals and our commitments. TEAM FX members are labeled only as HEROES and are treated as such. There is no fast or slow, strong or weak, rich or poor, professional or amateur, thin or obese, black or white, gay or straight, male or female. We are all simply heroes bringing our own uniqueness and our highest potentials together to benefit our well-being and the well-being of our community.
You know the saying “I used to complain about my shoes until I met a man with no feet”? That is the reason why anyone should use the gifts they are given. Personally, I found running to be my way to bring a long term healthy lifestyle plan to real fruition. You can do it anywhere, in any conditions. It’s very inexpensive, and the runner’s high is REAL! Cardio-vascular exercise is a natural way to prevent so many illnesses, while improving focus, quality of sleep, reducing stress, and even providing valuable “me” time while connecting with the great outdoors. I pretty much claim running as a life-saver on many fronts! But even if running isn’t your thing, there are so many meaningful ways to get involved! Just ask us how you can make a difference!
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned throughout the process of managing Team FX?
I didn’t really expect the team to grow like it has, with such a widespread impact on the runners, the shelter, and the community as a whole. There have been so many surprising success stories. Building a community of unity and possibility has really empowered a lot of people to become more overall confident, evolve into better parents and partners, and accomplishing great things with their lives. I’m so fortunate to have followed the notion to create a culture that was meaningful to me, as it has ended up helping so many others as well.
How do we sign up?
The easiest way is to go to our website, http://www.teamfxaustin.org, and following the instructions on the JOIN page. We are currently in our discounted Early Bird Registration period until August 11th, but we will take new runners until September 8th. You can always ask any questions or address any concerns with the firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-680-5584. We look forward to changing the world with you!
So what are you waiting for? Me? I successfully completed the half last year and will be doing it again! Thanks Gary for sharing your generosity, enthusiasm and kindness with Austin! And for keeping me off the couch!
–Looking for one-on-one coaching on relationships, sexuality, life passages, or need support with personal or career goals? Seeking seeking a facilitator for your group or team to help promote healthy group dynamics and effective communication? Contact me here!