WASHINGTON (WUSA 9) — This is a story about death, hope and overcoming adversity. It comes by way of a personal trainer whose story of loss has a lesson for all of us. Danny Strong fell in love with body building as a football player in high school.
His dream to own his own gym came true in February 2006 when he opened Strong Fitness.
“I really like to see uh the transition of people’s fitness and bodies,” said Strong.
The certified personal trainer, who’d been working for others, now shares his passion for fitness with his own clients and just loves it. Robert E. Lee High School athlete Jordan Tolbert is one of Strong’s clients.
“He pushes you to try, to get you to not give up so easily,” said Tolbert.
Strong helps clients, both physically challenged and not, to transform their bodies, even after his own was transformed.
He is an amputee who doesn’t let his disability define him. In fact, he excels in body building, in spite of it.
Last fall, in just his third competition since losing his leg, the Waldorf, Maryland native won the International Natural Body Builders Association competition against able bodied competitors.
“In the back of my mind, it’s something I needed to do for me, to get back on stage as an amputee — just to compete — to say that I did it.”
Just one month after opening Strong Fitness, Danny, his pregnant wife and their two-year-old daughter were traveling to North Carolina when they had a tragic car accident. His wife, Sandra Urbano Strong, died.
Through tears he choked out his memory of her: “She was a very giving, a very loving person,” said Strong. “The type of person who would give you her coat or shirt off her back, truly. I’ve seen her do things like that.”
Danny spent a week in the hospital. He broke his ribs, fractured his pelvis and still has a rod in his good leg. He was back at work in about five months. It took years to find peace.
“It’s a process, it’s a learning process. Sometimes it’s painful, it’s frustrating,” said Strong. “I just want to be a motivation to people.”
When asked what if Sandra were here today, what would she say?
Danny recalled: “She used to call me guapo. So I know if she was here I could see her look at me and say ‘Guapo, be happy don’t be sad, I’m okay. I knew you could do it. That was part of the big plan, you just didn’t know it.'”
As long as Danny has clients to motivate, that big plan will continue to play out. Danny also hosts amputee support groups once a month. He says he started it to give back to the amputee community and help inspire others.