National Fitness Partners Club Member Shows Strength and Resilience
Brian “SGT Big Country” Conwell faced extensive challenges after an accident while serving in the U.S. Army resulted in the loss his left leg above the knee. His right leg was salvaged with 30 screws, four plates and a 10-inch rod.
In October 2015, Conwell medically retired from the military and returned home, but once back in the U.S., he struggled with anxiety, depression and PTSD for years. However, Conwell didn’t let his struggles overcome him. He walked into the Planet Fitness® Belmont in March 2021 to start his fitness journey and hasn’t stopped striving to better himself since then.
“I have been able to inspire so many members by being consistent with my own fitness journey; I’ve been able to help others with theirs. It’s become more than a gym to me – it’s home,” said Conwell of his time with Planet Fitness.
In 2021, Conwell competed in the National Wheelchair Games NYC, where he brought home his first silver and bronze medal in discus and shot put. But he didn’t stop there! In June 2022, at the National Wheelchair Games, he earned gold in powerlifting and adaptive fitness, silver in discus, and bronze in shot put and javelin. Also in 2022, he competed in the Army Trials where he earned his place on Team Army for the 2022 Warrior Games. At the Warrior games, Conwell brought home gold in shot put, silver in discus, and silver in wheelchair basketball. Even more impressive, he also competed in the Desert Challenge 2022 in Meza, Arizona, where he brought home a gold medal in men’s discus against 12 other countries.
Conwell is lined up for several IPC-sanctioned events in 2023 and is another step closer to reaching his goal of competing in the 2024 Paralympics. Through his journey, Brian has gained coverage with media outlets across the country and notes that part of turning his life around was getting a membership at his local Planet Fitness.
To help with the expenses related to his travel for fitness competitions and equipment, Planet Fitness and Celsius hosted a fundraiser. Throughout the month of September, members and guests could donate $20 to receive a limited-edition SGT BIG COUNTRY T-shirt and a free Celsius drink. Planet Fitness and Celsius raised over $2,600 with the T-shirt fundraiser. National Fitness Partners rounded up the total donation to $5,000 to help support Conwell on his journey.
“Brian has been an inspiration to why we do what we do every day. His passion and perseverance are unmatched. We look to continue to support him in his goal to compete in the 2024 Paralympics,” said NFP Community Relations Manager Tara Cooke.
Conwell promoted the fundraiser by spending several days visiting National Fitness Partners’ locations in Belmont, Gastonia and Mooresville, North Carolina, and Fort Mill, South Carolina. He held meet and greets at these locations where he displayed his competition equipment and medals and spent time signing autographs and speaking to members about his journey.