Healthy Hero: David Mokena

How long have you lived in St. Joseph County?

David has lived in St. Joseph County for 12 years. David moved to the area after meeting his wife, Jessica (Sturgis native), on a mission trip in New Zealand through the organization Youth With A Mission (YWAM).

How do you incorporate fitness into your lifestyle?

David owns and operates Dave’s Hardcore Gym in Sturgis, where he uses fitness as a medium to give back to the community. Rooted in his belief that the best way to teach others is through leading by example, David incorporates positive life lessons into his training sessions. Members of his gym come from all over, some even travelling more than an hour drive to get their workouts in. Dave’s Hardcore Gym is about much more than physical exercise, it can be spiritual in nature.

In addition to his gym, David is also a member of YWAM’s Team Extreme. In their own words, “Team Extreme uses their tremendous physical size and natural abilities in sports to talk straight with youth and many who would normally never attend a Christian gathering. They speak with them about some of the hard choices they face in their lives, urging them to stay away from drugs and alcohol. They stand up against the stream of voices selling destructive life-styles, and encourage to live honestly and morally.” David uses this same approach with his clientele at the gym, encouraging them to lead a healthy, non-destructive lifestyle.

If you had to sum up the mission of Dave’s Hardcore Gym in one verse, Proverbs 27:17 is a good place to start. "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."

Who or What motivated you to be a wellness champion?

David is motivated by the people that surround him, even those that may have initially come seeking motivation and guidance themselves. To David, there isn’t a clear distinction between the teacher and student. While people might join the gym to be trained, he stresses that he learns just as much from them along the way.

David is also motivated by his deep love for family. His wife and seven children provide inspiration to stay in peak physical condition. He believes that one of the reasons why physical fitness is so important for those with a family is the inherent desire of fathers and mothers to see their children grow up and start lives of their own. “When you have children, you want to stay around as long as you can.”

What do you like to do with your free time in St. Joseph County?

David enjoys working with youth and others that are in need of a positive role model. After speaking with David, it’s clear that he doesn’t compartmentalize his life. His family, gym, and outreach efforts are all embedded into one mission. David spends his free time in the same way he devotes his life’s work, making a difference in the lives of others.

What kind of difference has a wellness regime made in your life?

David’s physical abilities have taken him all over the country, and even internationally, as part of Team Extreme. However, David insists the real benefit of his work is getting to know and learn from all of the individuals he meets along the way. In one of Team Extreme’s demonstrations, David bends a steel bar into a “U-shape.” Using this impressive feat of strength, David reminds his audiences that even the strongest of individuals needs to take a U-turn in their lives every once in a while. David’s humble assertion that he continues to learn from others is a great illustration of this exercise. David is invested in those he works with, and he shares in their journey. When someone meets a personal goal that they have set, he says that he shares in the satisfaction of their accomplishment as well.

What advice would you have for others that are trying to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

David's biggest piece of advice for those looking to make a positive change is to make sure that they are doing it for the right reasons. He believes that people should set goals for themselves, not to please others. One of Team Extreme’s mottos is to, “Win or lose by the way you choose.” When it’s all said and done, it’s about the person in the mirror. He also encourages others not to give up in the face of adversity. Sometimes a challenge can seem too great but David's advice is that, "It's not always about how many steps you can climb, it’s about one step at a time."