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From Health Risk to Fitness Champion

From Health Risk to Fitness Champion

Story by PO3 Ryan Breeden on 03/15/2019

At 4 p.m. everyday, aboard the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23), Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Timothy Clay is instructing a rigorous self-created workout known as “Slay with Clay.”

He is known throughout the ship as a fitness champion because of the diversity and intensity of his workout.

Aside from being a decorated Hospital Corpsman, Clay is one of three search and rescue (SAR) swimmers aboard the Anchorage and is a critical member to the visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) team.

Both jobs are physically demanding and require a high level of physical fitness.

Despite being at his peak performance, Clay was nearly disqualified from joining the Navy due to a medical diagnosis during his childhood.

“I was diagnosed with Aorta Stenosis and when I was 4 years old, I had major heart surgery,” said Clay. “After the surgery the doctors told my parents that I would never be physically active my entire life, nor will I have a long life ahead of me.”

The surgery resonated throughout Clay’s life, disabling him from doing what all the other kids were doing such as playing sports, tag, or wrestling. He wanted to join the fun but was reminded that his condition prevented his participation.

“I remember getting older and wanting to play all the sports my friends got to play,” said Clay. “But, I was always denied because of medical professionals saying my heart was too weak to participate in any type of physical activity.”

Like everyone he had to start somewhere and despite the condition, Clay was determined to not allow this unique diagnoses hinder him. He acquired help from his father, James Clay, a retired Marine who believed in his son who can accomplish anything.

“It all started from my dad,” said Clay. “My father was in the Marine Corps and all my physical fitness workouts come from him. At a young age when I got in trouble my father always gave me an option, either get grounded or do physical training as a punishment. As I got older my father introduced me to his special workout, James Clay’s House of Pain.’ My father became my trainer, running up and down country roads at four AM before school then after having sports practice, to lifting weights as soon as I got home, and finally working out in the late evening.”

Clay’s Health progressed and he eventually outperformed everyone in his school district, competing in varsity basketball and varsity football for four years. He decided he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the service.

Since joining the Navy, he has won numerous awards, including honor man, most physically fit, and leadership awards at SAR school, honor man and leadership awards at medical corps school, as well as most physically fit and leadership awards at Field Medical Training Battalion, West.

“I wanted to join the service to further challenge myself,” said Clay. “I have been fortunate to receive two years of special operations training and I have learned a lot. I conduct the Slay with Clay’ workout to pass on that knowledge to others to help them meet their fitness goals.”

Clay leads and participates in his work out class everyday at 1600 in the well deck of the Anchorage, continuously pushing Sailors and Marines to their peak performance. He hopes to show others that you can accomplish anything as long as you’re consistent and give 110% in everything you do.

“I’m a Corpsman now and I’ve decided to motivate other to not allow any diagnosis or dysphoria cloud their intentions to be the best Sailor or Marine they can be physically as well as mentally,” said Clay. “I always tell my fellow Sailors and Marines, You don’t choose the body you’re born in but you can choose how to sculpt it and to not allow people to tell you that can’t do something because of any physical disabilities. I’m a prime example of anything is possible.'”

USS Anchorage, Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47) comprise the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ESXARG). The ESXARG and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) departed San Diego, Calif., for a deployment to the Middle East and Western Pacific, July 10.

ESXARG and the 13th MEU, comprised of approximately 4,800 Sailors and Marines, are deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to support regional stability, reassure partners and allies and maintain a presence postured to respond to any crisis ranging from humanitarian assistance to contingency operations.

For information on the Anchorage, visit

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