Leading an active life has always been a priority for Michael Wuest, campus dining services marketing manager at the University of Missouri, in Columbia. Now, he’s sharing his passion for fitness to help others.
“When people ask me what I’m passionate about, I tell them this: food, fitness and business. The first one is easy to explain. Ever since I was able to ride a bike, I’ve been in a restaurant. My father has been in the pizza business for over 20 years, and I’ve spent many nights and weekends eating the buffet while he was whipping up pizzas in the back. Needless to say, I love pizza. The business side falls right in line with that. As my dad’s career progressed and he decided to open his own pizza place, I’ve been fascinated with how businesses operate. I enjoy breaking down the business model, figuring out the strategies and learning as much as I can.
So where does fitness play into this? I have always been active and played different sports growing up, my favorite being basketball. In high school, I started weight lifting and really enjoyed the combination of sport and strength. I continued that through college but had lulls between working out and staying fit, with enjoying college life.
When I came to Mizzou to work for campus dining services in 2011, I was reintroduced to CrossFit through the “300” workout (the workout the actors in the movie “300” did to get so buff). It killed me, took me forever, but I was hooked. I started doing research and found different WODs (workouts of the day) and tried them at my local gym. I became obsessed and people starting asking me what I was doing. I couldn’t stop talking about it; it was changing my life. I became more confident, I couldn’t stop smiling and my outlook on life was improving. Then the lightbulb went off: I wanted to share this with other people. I became a trainer and started working with individuals who wanted to change their life through fitness.
A few months after that, the business side of me said, ‘Why don’t you open a CrossFit box (the nickname for gym)?’ So we did. Since we’ve been open, we have touched over 500 lives and it’s been one of the most rewarding endeavors I’ve ever done.”
Look to your fellow colleagues. Your fellow foodservice directors have all been through any and all concerns you may have in your district. We are all a support system for each other. An idea you have might be a great inspiration for another director. My fellow directors in western Pennsylvania have helped inspire me throughout my years as a foodservice director. There has never been a time when I did not pick up the phone and call someone with a question that I wouldn’t get an answer. That is what camaraderie is among directors. That is what inspiration is.
—Sharon Conway, director of child nutrition, Highlands School District, Natrona Heights, Pa.