Conquering The Platform-Craig Feathers
Conquering The Platform is honored to present the story of Craig Feathers. Craig's story is one of struggle and inspiration as he talks about his battle with Parkinson's. Check out the design inspired by Craig "Shaken...Not Stirred" in the Intense Attire store. Now Craig's story in his own words....
It started in April of 2008. I remember asking myself “What’s going on with my hand?” It just wouldn’t do what I wanted it to. Over the next few months, I also noticed my hand began to shake and my arm would not swing when I walked. Fast forward to November of 2009. After a series of MRIs, nerve conduction studies, blood tests and specialists, the diagnosis was clear: Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease.
I was 37, a lifelong athlete and average gym rat, facing a neuro-degenerative disease that would always get worse and slowly rob me of my athleticism, the ability to provide for my family and, quite possibly, the ability to do the easiest of daily activities. The doctors said exercise, especially strength training, could slow the progression of Parkinson’s but I was told to take it easy. Take it easy?! They obviously didn’t know who they were dealing with!! Soon, I lived in the gym and slowly became stronger. After a while, the injuries started to mount: shoulder, back, elbow and so on. I was no stranger to surgery and knew I did not want to go down that path again. So, my training slowly dwindled from 4-5 days a week to zero. I was miserable. My symptoms were getting worse and I was starting to feel sorry for myself. It was a dark time.
Ironically, my cousin opened Big Lick Crossfit about a mile from my house. He asked me “When are you going to train with us?” I told him “Maybe next week” but he replied “Nope. Tomorrow will be better. Be there at 6:00 a.m.” This was in June of 2016. I soon caught the barbell bug again. I started to look and feel better. Uunder the watchful eye of the excellent coaches at Big Lick, I started doing the powerlifts again. I started to get stronger and stronger. I started thinking maybe I could compete and actually be a powerlifter. After about 6 months of Crossfit, with the blessing of my cousin, I started training exclusively for Powerlifting. I was hooked!! I read everything about strength training I could get my hands on, attended seminars, took certification classes and listened to those much more knowledgeable than I will ever be.
My first meet was at VMI in October of 2018. Meet prep was great but I was still nervous and terrified of failure. After all, I was 46, soon to be 47, with Parkinson’s disease. How could I do this? I wanted to drop out. Luckily, my friend for more than 30 years, strength sports promoter, official, competitor and coach, Chad Clark, said he would be there and would make sure I didn’t have to worry about anything but moving weight. I ended up hitting my target total but had more in me. I placed second….out of two! I was no longer afraid of failure because I overcame my own fears and hit PR’s on two of the three lifts. Failure is part of life. Get over it. Learn from it, move on and get better. Soon after my first meet, I entered and won a strongman event in WV. My next meet was in my hometown of Roanoke where I broke 4 VA state records for the 198 lb. masters 45-49 Classic Raw division. I am even more proud of the athletes I coach. Some hold records and others certainly will do so soon.
I have my good days and bad days. Parkinson’s is a terrible disease and I am reminded of that daily. After 10 years, not much comes easy but the other option is to give up…..something I will never do! That is why it is important for me to Fight, Overcome and Excel.
I am honored to represent Intense Attire.