Working Out for a Cause

Nate-Andre-3268A Coconut Creek resident inspires others with his passion for fitness and nonprofit work

The start to Nate Andre’s new year didn’t exactly go as planned. On the bright side, neither did the rest of 2016.

“I had a bad breakup,” says the Coconut Creek resident, 22. “It left me shaken and a little bit out of whack. I was just trying to find my confidence again.”

On top of the breakup, career struggles and his lack of fitness were making the search for confidence hard. It didn’t help that, throughout middle and high school, Andre struggled with obesity; classmates mocked him because of his weight.

“I was never really comfortable in my own skin,” he says. “I was always scared to take my shirt off to go to the beach or jump in the pool. I’d always go with my shirt on.”

Though he made an effort at getting fit as an older teenager, he fell back on unhealthy habits. But when he felt his life implode at the beginning of 2016, he decided that wouldn’t happen again. He joined Hard Exercise Works in Deerfield Beach and took part in its five-week fitness challenge.

“At that time, I was probably about 30 pounds overweight,” Andre says. “Within the five weeks, I had lost 25 pounds. After the challenge was over, I decided I might as well keep on going since I had shared my story with a lot of people and they were encouraged by it.”

Within six months, he had lost around 40 pounds and had placed in a CrossFit competition. He filmed a testimonial video to encourage others to find the same confidence he now had.

“Once you feel confident in your own skin and your own body, it enables you to do a lot of different things in your life,” Andre says. “So I wanted other people to feel the same way—to be confident in whatever they’re doing because they don’t have a strong insecurity about how they look or how they feel in certain clothes.”

It had a ripple effect on other aspects of Andre’s life. He found the impetus to combine his new love for fitness with his passion to help the poor, which sprang from his visits to Haiti, where he was born and lived until he was 10.

“When I would visit, it was almost like a new place to me. I was so shocked by the privilege that I got to live in America,” Andre says. “When I would see kids fighting over food or kids waiting for you to eat the meat off your chicken so they could eat the bones—that stuff just broke my heart.”

He talked to the gym owner about his idea to combine fitness and nonprofit work. The gym started offering five-week fitness challenges during which people would get friends and family to donate $1 to $5 for every pound they lost. Andre became a mentor for those who started this challenge, including his friends, who were the first participants. Over the next month, six people took on the challenge.

Through these fitness challenges, Us4Them was born, and it was registered in June as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. It serves as a middleman between people starting a fitness routine and charity efforts. For now, Andre works with the Deerfield Beach Hard Exercise Works location and does most of his charity work through Cross International, a Christian relief organization. He hopes to involve student-athletes, incorporate more Hard Exercise Works gyms into the program, and attract more charities and sponsors.

Andre and the Us4Them board members are passionate about not only helping the poor but also sharing participants’ stories. The gym and organization tracks their progress and shares their story on social media, including how much money they raised.

“We ask them, ‘Why are you doing this? Why does this matter to you?’ If we can get a big enough why, then we know that person is going to be successful,” Andre says.

Andre’s “why” is that he wants to inspire people, a goal he’s living out through Us4Them and Cross International. The organization has hired him as a speaker to tour throughout December with Christian band Sanctus Real during their Christmas tour.

“I think some people kind of just live a mundane life—they just drift through life and don’t really take any major steps or take any major risks to see what can turn out for the better. But I think you have to first ask, ‘What is the purpose that God has for my life? What am I supposed to do? And how can I be disciplined and put my effort and resources to that? And what risks can I take?’ It’s mainly risk-taking and faith.”

To learn more about Us4Them, visit us4them.tv. ?

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