“Fitness is about how you feel, not about how you look,” says actor and aspiring personal trainer Evan Spergel.
The 25-year-old has used fitness as a means for feeling good his entire life. When Spergel was growing up, it was common for him to hear kids in his class say, “That’s gay,” when referring to anything that was bad.
“I used to wish I was straight when blowing the candles out on my birthday cake,” says Spergel, who came out at 17. “I took those wishes so seriously.”
It was athletic activities that kept Spergel’s mind on track. Dancing, gymnastics and diving were his passions, and he pursued all of them, even if his peers thought they were gay-looking.
“Whether I was dancing or diving, I always felt masculine, regardless of what I was doing,” he says. Spergel went on to obtain a degree in art direction and advertising, and then later a diploma in musical theatre.But the time pressures of being a student, combined with a bad break-up, soon left his fitness aspirations in limbo. He was 24, felt out of shape and was taking anti-depressants. He’d also succumbed to the
pressures many in the gay community face regarding body image, so much so that he avoided gay bars altogether.
It wasn’t until Spergel found CrossFit that his life turned around and his confidence soared. “You go in and you sweat your ass off. It’s not going to feel good, but you keep challenging yourself, and that’s what’s stimulating,” says Spergel of the intense conditioning program that can include squats, push-ups, skipping, weights and box jumps in a single session. “It’s about putting your body into shock. You do the exercises as fast as you can. Some people puke when they start CrossFit, but when you start seeing results, you feel great.”
Spergel’s progress this past year has even inspired his mother to start exercising. “When you start living your life by inspiring others, you can actually start inspiring yourself,” he says. One year after falling in love with CrossFit, Spergel no longer takes prescription pills and has improved his diet by consuming natural sugars and making his own protein bars. And while he’s ready to take on any challenge—be it perfecting his backflips or fitting in at a gay bar—Spergel feels he’s won the biggest battle of all: feeling happy with himself.
“Looks come with fitness, but when you start working out, you become happier and you’re nicer to people,” he says. “It’s a wonderful snowball.”
SHOES: NIKE LUNAR TR1
SHIRT: PRO COMBAT HYPERCOOL 2.0 FITTED
SHORTS: SPEEDVENT STRETCH WOVEN TRAINING
LOCATION: ACADEMY OF LIONS