“I do not train to swim, bike, or run faster, I train to remove quit from my body and from my mind.”- Greg Almstad
Featuring: Frank Bloise.
Special thanks to Jim Parks, interviewer.
Most of us cannot imagine not being able to sit comfortably in a chair, or fit into the clothes we want, and have to worry about our breath stopping during the night, but two years ago this was Frank Bloise’s reality. At 50 years old, 385 pounds, suffering from sleep apnea, and at risk for heart attack, stroke and diabetes, Frank knew he had to make a change if he wanted to see his 60’s.
So in April of 2013, he started simply by being more active, shooting hoops at his local middle school and riding his bike one lap around the 3-mile track around Rockland Lake. Through a chance encounter at a friend’s party, Frank met one of the Y’s spin instructors, Annette Naples Prizzi, who recommended training at the Wyckoff Y. He signed up and has been with us ever since, using the pools, fitness center, spin and aerobics classes, yoga and Tri-Club to embrace the triathlete in him that was waiting to break out. “Annette really was pivotal in my success. She coached me back to a healthy life. I am very grateful for her,” Frank said. Another spin instructor introduced him to a support group called “From Fat to Finish Line,” which has also been instrumental in Frank’s weight loss. By December of that year, he had lost 80 pounds. Come March, it was a total of 120 pounds lost and the completion of his first indoor triathlon. Since then, he has completed 6 triathlons and the Y’s “Triple Crown” of Lap the Lake, the Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Triathlon, and the Scenic Half Marathon.
Frank’s willpower to continue his journey has been tested several times: he went through a divorce shortly after beginning his journey, followed by two car accidents, and then the loss of his career in October 2014. He was facing a trifecta of emotional, physical and financial devastation, but coming to the Y was always a top priority for him. “I had nothing else. This is what I was living for,” Frank said. Even though it hasn’t been easy, Frank perseveres. His best quality might be his ability to stay positive and embrace the journey: the ups and the downs. Finding spirituality within himself is a huge part of how Frank copes. It gives him the sense that everything is going to be okay and helps him see the good in everyday life. He said, “I am grateful for all my days…good and bad. I learn the lesson from the bad and let it go, and keep only the good with me.”
Through the host of new friends Frank has made at the Y, he has learned how impactful it is to “love one another and build each other up.” It’s what inspires him and keeps him going. Feeling freer and more at peace with his life than ever before, he’s proud to be continuing the weight-loss journey and is enjoying his new job as a chess coach. Even though it’s a far drive for him, Frank says that he feels connected to this place and it’s somewhere he’s meant to be; “The Wyckoff Family YMCA has helped me, inspired me, and empowered me to a healthy wellness that I enjoy today. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
From Frank, we learn that being a triathlete is a state of mind, and your body is capable of so much more than you think. Starting the race is the easy part, but do you have the heart to finish?
Whatever your goal is, you can achieve it. The Wyckoff Y has become a hub for triathlon training, whether you’re training for our own Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Triathlon or Ironman. Our Triathlon Club is open to full members interested in the sport of triathlon. All abilities are welcome. It is a great place for inexperienced athletes to learn the sport of triathlon alongside seasoned veterans!
By: Tracy L. Nieradka