Swimmer David Smith headed back to the Gay Games in Cleveland

David Smith at the 2010 Gay Games in Cologne.

Overweight and depressed, David Smith was energized by his 2010 Gay Games experience and led him into personal training.

Gay Games 9 takes place in Cleveland & Akron, Ohio, Aug. 9-16. You can register here - be part of the fun with David and 10k other LGBT athletes!

The summer of 2008 was a moment in my life where I really hit rock bottom. I was overweight and depressed and living with my parents at age 20. I was not really sure what to do with my life and had done nothing with my life. I really felt like I had no purpose. This really took a toll as I became very depressed, had no confidence in myself or self esteem. I also had no friends and no real reason to wake up in the morning.

By the end of the summer I decided I had enough and was ready for a change. Watching the 2008 Olympic Games I became inspired to make a difference within myself. For the first time in my life I decided take a chance and step forward. Right then and there I decided I wanted to be an Olympian. Watching the inspirational and amazing athletes participate in the event of a lifetime, to have the opportunity to be part of something greater than themselves really has put me forth on a journey that has led me to places and experiences I had never thought possible.

It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. My journey toward better physical and mental fitness has never been about aesthetics; it has always been about accomplishing more and constantly challenging to better myself and the world around me.

The Gay Games are very important to me. The 2010 Gay Games in Cologne were my first and I swam with the Denver SQUID. It was very significant for me to leave the country for the first time and to feel that not only did I feel apart of a great community but I felt that I truly had a sense of purpose. I raced the 200 IM, 400 IM, 400 freestyle, 100 fly and 200 fly and three relays. I won six medals -- three gold and three silver.

The experience was nothing short of amazing, being immersed in a new culture surrounded by thousands of athletes and people from around the world, marching in the opening ceremony, competing in my sport and watching the other athletes compete and participate. Making many new friends, many of whom I still keep in touch with today and watching my friends accomplish more than they ever thought possible. I returned from the 2010 Gay Games with a new-found appreciation and drive toward my goals. It was the first taste and the first step on my journey toward accomplishing what I set out to do.  

Since that first step I took, my life has changed exponentially. Not only did my experience at the Gay Games help shape who I am as an athlete but I also started to find my passion and purpose within the community. Finally finishing college with a degree in Exercise Science that I am proud to have and use, I stepped forward in reaching out to my community in helping those around me see that there is more to the world. My experience at the Gay Games and challenges toward becoming an Olympian has helped me in working toward uniting the LGBT community through exercise, fitness and sport. 

The experience and steps I’ve taken to better myself and the world around me has done so much to improve my quality of life that I want to help inspire others to take such steps for themselves. I am not just a personal trainer; I call myself an exercise professional because I do more than just train people. I am working to change how our community views exercise and fitness, to help other people see that there is so much opportunity and potential from within that in essence; we can all be an Olympian. To truly find our purpose and be apart of something greater than ourselves. As a result I have started my own business, Stonewall Fitness as my vehicle to bring people together and to help people within the LGBT community see that there is more in the world and in ourselves, that we can all reach farther and truly accomplish what we set out to do.

David Smith is a personal trainer in Denver and owns Stonewall Fitness. He plans on competing in swimming and triathlon at Gay Games IX in Cleveland.

Gay Games 9 takes place in Cleveland & Akron, Ohio, Aug. 9-16. You can register here - be part of the fun with David and 10k other LGBT athletes!

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