180 Degree Changes at CrossFit Fortress

Inside CrossFit Fortress.

What does a kid who is told he can’t go out and play accomplish by the age of 46? Anything and everything.

Until he was 5 years old, Silvio Schillen was in the hospital with various illnesses, from asthma to pneumonia. However, by 14 he had found tennis and was turning pro. Since, Schillen has been a wrestler, gymnast, Olympic lifter, champion bodybuilder, triathlete, etc. “Anything under the sun that was physical I was going to do it because I wasn’t allowed to before,” he explained.

So, it’s no wonder when Schillen found CrossFit-style workouts in the ‘80s while in the Marine Corps — or rather, the foundations of what would later become CrossFit when Glassman added Olympic lifting to functional fitness and gymnastics — he gave it all he had and soon became a high-end trainer. With clients like The Rock and the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders, Schillen got a wake-up call when Glassman introduced CrossFit. “Glassman pretty much let the cat out of the hat and told everybody my secrets,” he said, remembering how his clients had dwindled as they found similar training elsewhere for much cheaper.

But, that did not stop Schillen. He found himself advising a lot of people on opening CrossFits, so it was only a matter of time until Schillen opened CrossFit Fortress in Miami, Florida. The name came from Schillen’s father who had been his coach when he was younger. My father always talked about building the fortress, said Schillen. “Fortress came from, I guess me. I had to build my body up,” he explained.

With 15,000 square feet, about 450 members and one of the biggest rigs around, Schillen’s words that he truly believes in the sport of CrossFit are only backed by truth. In fact, he said he looks to one day get land and “really do this the right way.” He dreams of tying in CrossFit to all athletics, including aquatics and track and field, and eventually wants to build a large sports complex in which to do so. “[CrossFit] is the common denominator,” he said.

For now, Schillen keeps busy in his own Box. There, he has brought to life a thriving kids’ CrossFit program, catering to 4 year olds and up. With the coming holidays, CrossFit Fortress is even offering a CrossFit Kids Christmas Camp from December 22 to January 1. The program will look to educate children on fitness and nutrition, all while giving parents a place to bring their kids.

The Box also has HexFit, a program Schillen developed a long time ago. HexFit is CrossFit, but instead of a barbell, dumbbells are used. “I truly believe in order to really get an athlete to fix his weaknesses, his or her weaknesses, you have to split the body into hemispheres, right and left hemisphere,” said Schillen.

It all, however, comes back to CrossFit. At 46 years old, Schillen is still out playing while most his age are too tired or, in his words, too messed up to continue running around. Despite his health at the beginning of life, it seems it has done a full 180-degree turn. “My physical fitness is above and beyond anybody in my age group,” he said.

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at heather@peakemedia.com.