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A Story About School Bullying, Fitness, And Success In Rancho Cucamonga

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Damon Rideau is not your average personal trainer. As an avid CrossFit athlete with a background in nutrition, he can talk to you about your WODs, alignment, and meal planning, but he has a more important story to tell – and he wants to hear yours also.

Like many middle school-aged children, Damon grew up having to endure bullying for his appearance. Clinically obese at 12 years old, he suffered emotional and physical abuse at the hands of his classmates and peers. Rejection in the form of a declined date even pushed the limits of human decency, with name-calling and body shaming attached. "[This] was like a catalyst effect for me, kind of reverting back into my shell," he said. A naturally extroverted personality, by age 13, Damon instead found himself retreating into a depressive state.

An Avid Gamer And Inactivity

An avid gamer as a child, Damon had lived a life of relative inactivity for many years. However, an underlying desire to make the Pop Warner football team required him to build some new habits if he hoped to lose enough weight to make the cut. With the support of his family, he embarked on a new health and fitness journey. They implemented small changes throughout the process, like first eliminating all soda, and Damon found himself encouraged by the positive results he saw from it. "I ended up actually losing the weight. That's when my first build of confidence came from… I knew I could obtain a goal," he said.

His Focus In College - Nutrition 

Through years of football conditioning and practice, he found himself hooked on the physicality and the discipline of it, and his body transformed along the way. What he learned over time, however, was that while his physical appearance had changed, his mind had not. He recognized that there was still a sense of sadness, brought on by a desire to pursue football for the wrong reason, "to still try to get the glory, the fame" he said, but he knew that, "the solution was to build my own happiness."

For Damon, that meant quitting football and pursuing fitness full-time. He went to college and studied nutrition, and started working as a personal trainer. Through his client interactions, he realized the most valuable thing he was helping them work through wasn't just the physical. "[I helped] them build mental confidence, "he said, "and a self-awareness within themselves. I was addicted to that. I was addicted to seeing that within others." This awareness led him to continue to pursue higher education, completing his A.A. degree in psychology at Pasadena City College. He is currently finishing his studies to obtain his bachelor's degree from UC, Riverside in 2020.

CrossFit Kids In Rancho Cucamonga 

The CrossFit Kids program at Axiom is excellent for children who want to make physical fitness changes, and also provides a confidence boost for those who are being bullied for any reason. Damon has trained kids as young as three years old! He knows the time he spends with these youth is valuable for teaching them new strength-training techniques, but also provides an opportunity for him to listen and learn the underlying issues they may be grappling with. While he works to build these kids up, he knows he can't always be with them to provide that level of support. It's important to him that they carry-over those feelings of self-assuredness in their day-to-day lives.

One of the most essential elements of working with young kids for Damon is the parents understanding of how modeling behavior is vital to their child's success. His parents were the ones who showed him they were willing to make changes as a team, for which he continues to be grateful. He knows that it is not enough to tell a child that you support them; they need to witness this behavior to help them attain their own success. "If you're going to instill in [them] good habits, you need to, obviously, be doing that yourself as well," he said. Go for a bike ride with them, make healthier food choices together, talk to each other about the experience - and ditch the soda for water.

Kids aren't the only ones feeling shamed or bullied. Many adults are still grappling with their own insecurities, either as carry-over from childhood, or new-found pressures as they age. Damon's training strategy is to work with clients of any age and let them know it's OK to be knocked down, because "you have the choice to get back up. [N]o matter what it is, and there's no matter what point it is in your life, whether you're 13 or 55... you'll always be strong enough to push, [and] get back up again." Axiom CrossFit is grateful that Damon found his way to get back up, and that he is committed to helping others do the same.

Learn More 

​Find out more about training with Damon or the CrossFit Kids program at Axiom CrossFit by visiting our gym, calling us at (909) 234-3536, or send us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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