Fitness, faith and friends delivered Rob Decker from the depths of despair to the heights of a clean lifestyle.
Written by Suzanna Cullen Hamilton | Photographed by Shane O’Donnell
Opioid addiction claims more lives each year than firearms or automobiles. Growing up with parents who were alcoholics with opioid and drug addictions presented Rob with an almost insurmountable hurdle. Although Rob now has a thriving career as a fitness instructor—particularly to youth and people recovering from back surgery, his path was riddled with the landmines of addiction and negative messaging.
“It’s impossible to not be affected when you grow up with meth-addicted parents who abuse drugs and alcohol,” says Rob. He started using marijuana at age 16, and by his early 20s he was taking Ecstasy and cocaine. “I was on a fast path, and my father told me that I’d never make it,” he continues.
A life of constant addiction culminated one dark night that could have ended Rob’s life. After a drunken argument with his then-girlfriend that included a call to the police, Rob decided to take his own life by jumping from a building.
“In that moment, I was ready to end the nightmare,” says Rob. Although friends had recently taken him to a prayer service at a nearby church where Rob says he “felt chills on my spine and knew the Lord’s presence,” he wanted to go.
Fortunately, Rob hit part of the building, and it broke his fall. Although he shattered his back, arm and wrist and collapsed a lung, he was alive.
It took five years and $2 million in multiple surgeries to heal Rob’s fractured back and arm, and he had to learn to walk again. “During that time, I learned to understand deep physical pain; the fundamentals and patience required for recovery; and I learned that my faith would deliver me through it,” says Rob.
Titanium rods, screws and cages now hold Rob’s body together, while his faith holds his soul together. He’s also eliminated all drug and alcohol use.
Today Rob has a thriving business as a personal trainer at Equinox. “I want to give people hope,” says Rob. He and his wife, Alyssa, live in Torrance, and they welcomed a son, Caleb, in 2016.
When asked what he’d say to his teenaged self, Rob replies, “You can be whatever you want to be, and be the best you can be.” Caleb is going to have a great pillar in his father, and back surgery patients have an advocate in Rob.
Rob’s Year in Health
Favorite Exercise Outside the Gym
I play in a competitive baseball league.
Healthy Snacks on the Job
Quick and easy: nuts, seeds and fruit.
Caleb is 8 months old—and Alyssa and I both work—so family time together is our favorite time.