I was born in Orlando, but moved at a young age and claim Canton, GA as home – where I did most of my growing up. At the age of 13, I began getting involved in fitness when my brother and I would wake up at 4 AM to go to the gym with my father before work. Through high school, I played sports recreationally. I would regularly play basketball, flag football, swim and run. At this time I expressed my fitness (besides training) mainly through my favorite hobbies: skateboarding and wakeboarding.
in 2009, I enrolled at Auburn University and pursued a degree in Business Management. I had ambitions of being an entrepreneur one day like my father, who had created and owned multiple businesses for over 25 years. On the first day of my first class at Auburn, I had to introduce myself to the class and share my career goal. Completely unprepared, I stood up and said “My name is Sebastian, I am from Canton, GA, and I want to own a gym.” At the time I really had no idea, and the thought went to the back of my head for years afterwards.
When I was 18 years old, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Obviously, at this age it came as a huge surprise. I was fit (so I thought), training regularly, and did OKAY in regards to nutrition. As far as I know, my diagnosis wasn’t a result of my lifestyle though. At first I was angry and I was scared, but that diagnosis ended up being an enormous blessing, and the most pivotal moment in my life.
I made the decision to manage my condition the best I could through my lifestyle. Through exercise and limiting sugars/crap food, I was able to reduce the insulin I needed to manage my condition. I was taking absolutely no fast acting insulin throughout the day and my blood sugar readings were consistently in a “non-diabetic” range. I became obsessed with managing my condition the best I could, and extremely excited that I was doing so through my lifestyle and avoiding excess medication. I recorded everything I would eat, my blood sugar readings, when I would exercise, etc. and brought 30 days’ worth of research to my doctor to show him what I was doing. To my disappointment, my doctor was only concerned with going over by blood work, and prescribing more medication. After several similar experiences (with multiple doctors), I lost faith in the medical system and continued to manage my condition on my own. My A1C (average blood sugar over three months) has stayed below 6.0 (6.0 begins the “pre-diabetic” range) since then. I did not take a single fast-acting insulin injection for seven years.
I experienced a broken medical system where doctors do not have the available time or commitment to help individuals prevent or manage disease through lifestyle (exercise and nutrition), beyond the general recommendations. Western medicine is fantastic at treating symptoms, not necessarily preventing them, or finding and fixing the reason they are occurring (usually lifestyle related).
Later in my college career I received an assignment to write up a five year plan for my life. I credit this assignment for bringing much needed clarity to my life. I had become passionate about not only fitness – but health and wellness as a whole. Through this passion, my experience and the knowledge I had gained; I found purpose in being able to help others. I made it my five year goal to own a gym, and we opened up CrossFit Manta Ray one year later.
I fell in love with CrossFit specifically for many reasons. Number one being the community. There is nothing else like the CrossFit community when it comes to supporting one another. The community, camaraderie, and positive energy within the box largely contributes to the success of the athletes. I also love the physical and mental challenge that is unique to CrossFit. The opportunity to constantly test yourself for growth, and fuel the competitive fire we all have within us. CrossFit teaches you not just how to become more fit, but how to be a better human. It does not matter where you start, as our method is infinitely scalable. We can help the out-of-shape beginner lose 50 pounds, the seventy-year old stay active and healthy, as well as build elite performance/strength in a more experienced athlete – and I enjoy each venture equally.
With CrossFit comes an entire lifestyle, which makes it the perfect outlet to change lives. At the time of writing this, CrossFit Manta Ray has been open for five years and changed many lives, including my own. I am grateful for the blessings in my life, and the opportunity to execute on my passion of helping others become healthier, stronger, and better versions of themselves.
CrossFit Level One
CrossFit Level Two