Ever wonder what Kenton Clairmont’s back story was?
Well, here you go. Kenton tells it all, in a transcript from one of our podcasts.
“Well, man where do I start? I guess I could start with the humble beginnings that well I grew up at in a house that was supported by timber dollars and in a really small town and I remember a lot of times the only thing we had to eat was anything we killed or mom grew in the garden and that was basically it. We had, you know, a lot of hand-me-downs and as I grew up I really just kind of excelled at anything physical just naturally being an outdoor kid and hunting with my Reaper that my dad bought me when I was super young and excelled in sports and so that was really kind of my identity for a long time, Mark, all through high school and then I got into college and played baseball in college.
I was fortunate enough to stay focused and get a degree in teaching and kinesiology as a major and played some undergrad college baseball. After college I had just a really tough time, you know, trying to find a new identity. Anybody who has played any college sports or sports for any period of time, even high school sports. Once you stop being an athlete you have to find a new identity. A new ‘who am I and why should people respect me’ and so I was respected for my accomplishments on the football field or baseball diamond or wrestling mat or track or whatever season it was I was playing. And so after I got out of college I started teaching back in my hometown and was coaching some baseball in Bonner’s Ferry in Idaho, a small town just south of the Canadian border.
And you know I was teaching there and coaching baseball and it was of those stories they could have made a movie about it – the kids talked their coach into trying out and I was that guy. They didn’t make a movie about me but it was the same idea. I went OK I’ll entertain you guys, I’ll go down and try out for the – I think it was a multi-scout tryout here in Spokane. So I came in and tried out and didn’t think much of it and went to work the next day and got a call to come, one of the scouts said, ‘hey we really want you to come down and play for us. We have a new team here in Pennsylvania and we’re looking for a catcher and so I went down and played some single A for ball one summer, I was 25 years old you know so it was a few years after college.
And I got my one summer in the sun and was really blown away by the – just, I don’t know – being on the other side of the fence. Because for so long I was a kid and watching these pro baseball players and dreaming about being a pro baseball player for so long. When you get to be on the other side of the fence and kids are asking you for your autograph and stuff it’s a pretty neat feeling and also very humbling you know, I never walked away from anybody who was wanting an autograph. I gave out autographs till the kids were out of the stands so it was really a fun experience for me and after the one summer I got my release papers so I went back to reality and started work and it was probably 4 years after that I was working at a private school for troubled kids, I used to be a counselor for troubled kids in Bonner’s Ferry and then I transferred –” -Kenton Clairmont
“So troubled as in – in trouble? – Or like handicapped?” -Marc Warnke
“Troubled as in ‘in trouble’ like most of them come from backgrounds where they didn’t have a real good home life or, a lot of the kids were just working through some issues and most of them got in trouble with the law and got kicked out of school or were court ordered to go to a private school where they could get full-time counseling and also finish up their high school or middle school schooling. So the school that I worked at was actually a school where the kids could actually attend school and would finish up their education and at the same time were getting some pretty intensive counseling about you know, just trying to figure out their lives and try to make some better choices and so I was working at that for 4 years and then on my 30th birthday – I’ll never forget it, Mark.
I woke up on my 30th birthday and I felt like I sprained my ankle and I couldn’t figure out why my ankle hurt so bad and about 4 hours into the day my ankle felt fine. But, my elbow felt like I’d sprained my elbow. I thought it was kind of weird I thought that it was one of those things that ‘oh well I’m 30 now. I must be getting old and I probably wore out my body so I’m probably just going to have some aches and pains that aren’t going to be – you know that I never had when I was younger – and to make a long story short it got worse and worse and probably 8 months after my 30th birthday I couldn’t get out of bed. It would take me a long time to get out of bed and I remember sweating and trying to figure out what in the world was happening to me. It would take me usually a half hour to get going in the morning and by the time I got in the shower I usually felt a lot better but I had aches and pains throughout the day and it was really bizarre. This ache would always jump around and go from my knee and go into my hands and then into my feet and my neck and then my shoulders and the other elbow – and this is all in one day.” -Kenton Clairmont
“And were you training hard at this time?” -Marc Warnke
“Yea, I was you know and that’s one thing that has been pretty consistent from when I was young. I have always trained, ever since I was in the first grade. My mom is an aerobics instructor and trainer at a small gym in Hunter’s Ferry so I would get out of school and go to the gym just to hang out with mom and you know, I’d do aerobics classes and lift weights and mom came around in the weight room so I was always in the gym and there is no exception. As long as I can remember I have always been kind of a workout-“ -Kenton Clairmont
“So it’s always been – yea, just been a daily part of your walk yea, and had you ever experienced what I would call –” -Marc Warnke
“No nothing-“ -Kenton Clairmont
“Like what you were like chronic injury at that time?” -Marc Warnke
“It wasn’t like that Mark, it was like there was one thing ringing in my head – ‘how come I’m suddenly feeling like so much pain in my knees’ and of course I don’t admit that – I didn’t want to admit that there was something wrong, I just wanted to play it up to I caught for 20 years and wrestled for 18 years and my knees and feet and joints are probably just catching up to me. Well, you know fast forward and this took me about a year before I finally decided I need to go see the doctor. And I go see the doctor and they diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis and –” -Kenton Clairmont
“Crazy-“ -Marc Warnke
“Yea, right? And it was pretty severe so she got me right into a specialist and I started being treated by a specialist and-“ -Kenton Clairmont
“Now, now when you say severe, does severe mean severe pain or that you actually had arthritic calcified joint, you know, joinings? I mean what is severe- define severe.” -Marc Warnke
“Severe is defined by the level of pain you’re experiencing and you-“ -Kenton Clairmont
“Ok, so it is the level of pain then.” -Marc Warnke
“Yea, the pain level of 1-10. Mine was always – I’d always say 7, but I mean really it was probably closer to a 10 most of the time-“ -Kenton Clairmont
“Hard to believe-“ -Marc Warnke
“Yea, and after 3 days of not being able to get out of bed and being pretty depressed, Mark. After being a professional baseball player to not being able to get out of bed in a 5 year period was pretty tough on my ego. Pretty tough on me just mentally and I felt like-“ -Kenton Clairmont
“Yea-I mean everything was wrapped in there, I mean identity, this is who I am, look at these and now all that gets kind of jerked out plus the whole, I mean you’re a physical guy and that’s almost how you express your spirit – through hunting or exercise or sharing. I mean it’s all got this physical component. And I’m sure you felt like ‘holy crap it’s going to get jerked out from underneath me.’” -Marc Warnke
“Completely, and it had been you know? I felt like I was kind of coming to grips with the fact that I was going to have to learn to be some – be, what’s the word? Find work with something that didn’t have physical ability because I could hardly walk, in fact-“ -Kenton Clairmont
“My god.” -Marc Warnke
“I could hardly walk, in fact, there was this one time that it got bad enough, I was actually in a store with one of my buddies and he got tired of waiting for me so he said ‘man just sit down in this wheelchair and I’m going to push you around so we can get through this.’ Because I could barely walk but I was stubborn enough that I didn’t want to sit in the car. So-yea-“ -Kenton Clairmont
“Wow, so what’s the – where’s the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow? What happened?” -Marc Warnke
“OK, ok. “ -Kenton Clairmont
“You’re killing me man! Because I know you’re a stud now, right?” -Marc Warnke
“So, yea, so amazingly enough I started getting treated and at first, the first couple years, I definitely decided that I needed to get out of teaching and get back into training, like personal training because the only way I would be able to beat this thing was to stay in motion so I needed to come up with a profession and I needed to start a profession that I would be on my feet and moving because the more I was moving the better I felt. And that’s just kind of the nature of arthritis to begin with, you know, if you stay limber and you stay active it tends to subside a little bit so I moved from Bonner’s Ferry to Spokane to become a personal trainer and I found another doctor, another specialist, because I ran into a couple clients that actually had RA in training with RA they were interested in having me train them. And they were basically convincing me that I should see another doctor and get a second opinion because they were doing much better than I was.
So my current wife, Heidi, she was a member of the gym and she was the one who told me, ‘hey I know this specialist that you should go in and see. I can get you an appointment.’ So I went in and saw this doctor and the pot of gold appeared. He basically said, this is what we need to be doing. You’re too young for this, let’s start you on this treatment and literally, Mark, 2 weeks after I had my first treatment it turned my life around. The guy turned my life around with this new treatment and ever since then I’ve really never taken my physical ability and physical health for granted.” -Kenton Clairmont
“I bet.” -Marc Warnke
“Because to have it pulled out from underneath you it was really tough, it was really tough. I actually went hunting in that time frame when I was really struggling to walk and get around. I went through an elk season and went to a really tough spot with my dad and he and I hunted and shot an elk with my bow. The first elk I ever shot with my bow and I was really just struggling to get up and down the mountains and I threw some weight on my back and of course he was concerned about me and ‘maybe you should take it easy. I know your feet hurt and your knees hurt,’ I was determined, it’s kind of s sad story, I was determined to get it out because I knew it would be the last time that I would elk hunt. I just was convinced I would never be able to do it again because I was going downhill so fast.” -Kenton Clairmont
“Wow, wow…amazing.” -Marc Warnke
“Yea, fast forward and here I am. So I get better, I got inspired, I really fed off f that experience in the mountains and thought ‘you know, there are a lot of guys out there that have so many limitations that they put on themselves because of their physical ability- their current physical ability or their physical fitness. They shouldn’t be bound by that. People should not be bound by physical fitness, they should be bound by nothing. They should feel confident to be able to hunt where they want to hunt and when they want to hunt and hunt as long as they like because they want to hunt.” -Kenton Clairmont