Athlete of the Month: February 2019
Brad is a straight up cool cat. He gets along with everyone and truly loves coming to the gym. Spend enough time at Windy City and you are sure to see his big old welcoming southern grin crushing a WOD. In the past year we have watched Brad make a true transformation. It started when he re-joined the gym, progressed as he took on Windy City’s Murph Team Training and continues with his recent commitment to improve his Weightlifting skills in Windy City’s Olympic Weightlifting track. What’s next? Who knows, but one thing is certain, Bradley will give it his all and more than likely won’t stop until he has set a personal record.
Full Name: William Bradley Hillhouse
Member Since: March 2017
“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts.”
— Daniel Patrick Moynihan
I’m originally from Oxford, Mississippi, a college town known for football, tailgating, and William Faulkner. My alma mater, the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), is located there. The entire town and the university have a symbiotic relationship. Most things revolve around Ole Miss sports and university events. Oxford is somewhat affectionately known inside its own bubble as “The Velvet Ditch.” Most of my family still lives in north Mississippi.
I traveled out west during one summer break at Ole Miss and worked in Yellowstone National Park. I loved the west and hiking so much that after I got my degrees from Ole Miss, I worked two more years in the park. I met my best friend working there and stay in touch with many others from that time in my life.
After my dad died, I moved back to Oxford to handle his affairs. I stayed there for a few years and my daughter, Amelia, was born in 2008. We moved to Chicago in 2009, and it was a huge adjustment for me. I had only lived in a small town and on top of a giant volcano before coming here. I lived in Andersonville, Edgewater, and Rogers Park before settling in North Center. I originally discovered the gym when my wife (then girlfriend), Dyan, and I would walk by on our way to the bar. My friend and co-worker, Loren Marino, talked about how much he enjoyed working out at WCSC, and I was intrigued.
In the fall of 2016, I made some pretty major changes in my life. Part of that entailed completely changing my lifestyle. I loved playing sports when I was younger and always wanted to get back in shape, but my late nights bartending and associated lifestyle had always held me back from doing so. Until one night at work when I impulsively emailed the gym for a consult, talked to Tony Brown, and took a class the next day. Tony was very encouraging, and I knew if I didn’t make myself commit on the spot, I would always make excuses to back out. So I signed up for a few months. After getting my feet wet for about 6 months, I took last winter off to take care of some personal business. Then in February 2018, I completely recommitted and never looked back.
What does training here mean to you in your life?
My training gives me a sense of purpose, a love for taking care of my body, and an avenue for attacking my weaknesses and embracing my best instincts.
Training at WC has helped me to become a person I never thought I would be. I feel focused, disciplined, and jacked!
For me, living BIG means to always be willing to lend a hand, help someone you don’t know, and be the best father and husband that I can be.
What would you do and where would you go if time / money were not object?
I would take Amelia and Dyan to every National Park in the United States, and live in Paradise Valley in southwestern Montana. I’m sure the girls would miss the city, but I would feel right at home. Also, I'd travel through space because time and money are artificial constructs.
What adventures, events, trips, races do you have planned?
I just started the Open Training with another great group of members. I’ve never attempted the Open, so I’m really trying to attack my weaknesses and get better as an all-around athlete. I really enjoyed my Murph Training Team last year, and look forward to trying to wear a 20 pound vest this year and still beat last year’s time. Dyan and I have been so busy with family commitments since we got married in 2017 that we are hoping to finally take our honeymoon to somewhere tropical. We always plan a couple of trips back to Mississippi every year to visit family and eat our weight in fried catfish and chicken. I’m hoping to plan a family trip to Yellowstone sometime soon.
What are your goals:
- Fitness: Master handstand push ups and be able to do handstand walks, continue to improve my Olympic lifts, and smash my Murph time.
- Professionally: Continue to be a leader in the workplace and support our strong Union for all my working people.
- Personal: Be mindful and live one day at a time. Do more to help those in need.
What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?
I was hit by a car when I was six, shattering my right leg and fracturing my skull, resulting in a traumatic brain injury. I benefited from good luck, great doctors, and an even greater family in order to make a full recovery. Many other people aren't so lucky and I’m truly grateful for everything life has given me since then. On the bright side, I do have this sweet scar on my head now!
Words to Live By
First of all, I would like to thank all my friends and coaches at Windy City. Dyan, Amelia, and I think the world of our little gym community. Shout out to the Murph 2018 training crew. It’s how I got to know many of my friends at the gym. I’ve never had so much fun getting yelled at early on a Saturday morning. Boat Crew for life!
Thanks to Justin for creating such a cool place, Jim, Chris, Doc, PJ, Eloise, Terri, John, Small Paul, Paul C, Esther, Taylor, Annie, Sam, Megan, Sheena, and Tony for signing me up and making fun of my lankiness. To anyone I may have forgotten, feel free to dunk on me relentlessly. Remember, brain damage y’all.
To anyone out there doubting if they can change, believe in yourself. I’m not a former athlete or someone who even remotely took care of himself for years. It’s never too late to change your life for the better. Take that first step and embrace the suck. Force yourself to be uncomfortable. And no matter what you do, always thank your wife publicly for her love and support!