(Aaron Salazar, Winner Of Local Fitness Contest)

Palm Springs, CA

Aaron Salazar was looking forward to meeting his friend for lunch in Sacramento, California on the way back from a visit to Colorado in May 2018. He was traveling by Amtrak train and making his way towards his University, Portland State in Oregon where he was studying as a junior.

The next thing he remembers is being found on the side of the train tracks in Truckee, California with a severe brain injury. Salazar recounting the aftermath of the horrific situation recalled, “the Doctors said I wasn’t supposed to live. They were getting ready to harvest my organs. I was a victim of a gay hate crime and found on the side of the train tracks. It has changed my whole life and the life of my family’s too.”

His Mom Angie adding context to the story explained, “Aaron had blisters and some sort of substance thrown on his crotch that resulted in an intense burn on his thighs, knees, and legs.” She went onto say, “Aaron did not know who did this to him. He has no memory of even being on the train at all.”

The original brain injury was so dramatic that when Aaron first came out of the hospital, he was in a wheel chair, totally dependent on family. After the devastating turn of events, Aaron’s family moved from Hawaii to follow him from hospital to hospital. In 2019, the whole family subsequently decided to move to Palm Springs, a place where Aaron Salazar’s Uncle had lived so that Salazar could recover in a warm climate with a large welcoming LGBTQ community.

Life went on for Aaron but it consisted of going to doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, then back home. He didn’t see his friends he had before the incident. However, slowly but surely, Aaron started to get better to the point where he was able to use a walker and in March 2022, he was finally cleared to start going to the gym. He chose EOS Fitness in Palm Springs, “a leader in the fitness industry with an inclusive and welcoming mission committed to empowering exercise practitioners of all experience levels.”

Aaron’s goals at the gym? To be able to walk again.

Before the incident in May 2018, Aaron Salazar was always physically into fitness. He enjoyed eating healthy, watching weight, and working out. He recalled of his comeback journey, “the first day at the gym was the best! I was able to be out with regular people and it felt normal for the first time in forever. I love the way working out makes me feel. It’s a good way to relieve stress. Also the people at EOS fitness are always nice, and it’s great to meet people that have a similar interest.”

Aaron Salazar’s mom Angie agreed noting the positive changes she has seen in him. She said, “since going to the gym, his life has completely changed. He felt normal for the first time since the incident.” She continued saying that before he started working out, “his right arm would have spasms, but since working out, the spasms have completely gone away. I believe he will be able to walk again. He is now at the point where he is taking steps without having to hold onto anything.”

The exercises that Aaron enjoys doing at EOS, include lifting with free weights, bench pressing, and the smith machine which helps him focus on his squats.

Each year, EOS Fitness has a “Submit Your Fit” contest that is open to all EoS Members who would like to share their transformational stories, along with their before and after pictures. One gym-level winner from each EoS location is voted on by EoS team members. These winners then move on as companywide contestants and the top five winners are determined based on votes from the entire EoS community.

Aaron Salazar decided to put his own submission in after the contest was announced. He felt that his story may be inspirational to others. Working with an EOS personal trainer, Jonah Corrall, who Aaron describes as very positive and uplifting further gave him confidence to enter the contest.

This year’s contest received 745 submissions from across the United States, showcasing inspirational stories of how members worked to prioritize their overall well-being through fitness, grit, dedication and the support of their community at EOS Fitness.

Guess what? Aaron won!

Aaron was the gym-level winner of the Palm Springs location voted on by EōS team members! Ecstatic about winning the EOS Fitness, “Submit Your Fit” contest, Aaron would like people to know, “Don’t ever limit yourself. The doctors said I wasn’t supposed to live. I miracously came about and survived. Now I’m able to go to the gym. Hopefully one day I will be able to walk again, I know I will. Don’t ever give up, if I can do it so can you.”

If you see Aaron at the gym, feel free to say hi and congratulate him on his well deserved win. He’s been through a lot, and his strength, tenacity, and continued recovery is an inspiration to us all.

For more information on EOS Gym, click here.

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