Change for the community: Langston Richardson uses fitness journey to encourage hard work, discipline

After being inspired by his dad’s commitment to fitness, Richardson works hard to replicate and encourage others to do the same. INSTAGRAM/@langston_rich1

This story is part of a continuing series that features Black leaders at USF during Black Heritage Month.

In a high school soccer game brawl, junior mechanical engineering major Langston Richardson took a hard fall and tore his right shoulder’s labrum and rotator cuff in an attempt to catch himself while plunging toward the ground.

Surgery sidelined Richardson for what would become the rest of his soccer career and the beginning of a long road of recovery. 

Between some issues in his personal life and having his right arm glued to his chest for a month, leaving for USF alone in fall 2019 looked even more daunting. 

“This injury caused me a lot of mental and physical damage because I was trying to pursue soccer,” he said. 

“I really kind of had to sit and wait for myself to heal, and it was just hard when I wanted to improve.”

Richardson grew up inspired by his father’s display of discipline through his athletic hobbies and he said he was determined to lead a lifestyle that would emulate the hard work and dedication he had witnessed his father living while growing up.

“My father ran 26 marathons, so I’ve [always] been around fitness,” Richardson said. 

“It was just something that I hadn’t grown into until that point when I did. I want to dedicate myself, and a part of my time to [it].”

Despite the setback from his injury, Richardson still dreamed of having the same physique his father had in college, so he started sharing his story of recovery on Instagram

Richardson’s dedication to the weight room has amassed him over 20,000 followers on Instagram, where he provides moral support, nutrition and training advice to his audience. 

Aimed at helping college-aged men improve their lifestyles, the athlete uses himself as an example to his followers, giving them a window into his daily efforts to become better, one workout at a time.

The bitterness of his progress being halted by something he couldn’t control motivated him in the beginning to prove to everyone he could do it, he said. 

“I was almost angry a little bit,” Richardson said. “[I said that if] I’m moving to a new state, I’m going to show you guys what I can do.”

Instead of running like his father, Richardson optimizes his weight training for strength, size and agility. Despite training in different athletic disciplines, he refuses the level of effort to be any less.  

Junior biomedical sciences major Destiny Okungbowa met Richardson during their freshman orientation and said they bonded over trying to make the most of the experience.  

After three years, their relationship resembles two brothers who push each other to be better every day, according to Okungbowa.

“We’re able to confide to each other about our success, our passions, our failures and most of all, our future plans,” he said. 

“He brings great energy to the friendship because he’s always looking to do better and be better.”

Similar to Richardson, Okungbowa sought to improve his lifestyle once he got to USF. He said the progress he has made can be partly attributed to Richardson’s ability to lead by example.

“He started this 100 day challenge, which is a fitness challenge of working out once a day for 100 days straight,” Okungbowa said. 

“Whenever I wanted to give up, I knew I couldn’t because my best friend and rival Langston was working his tail off thousands of miles away during the summer break.”

A semester filled with new friendships, an improved physique and a healthy right shoulder gave Richardson new fuel to continue his Instagram fitness journey.

“I started doing it more and more for [myself],” he said. “I understand that whenever I’m taking care of my body, I’m getting my work done in school.”

“I’m planning ahead for life. I’m able to set goals and achieve them.”

Making fitness a process of day-to-day commitments rather than just a physique is what Richardson attributed his social media growth to. People started to reach out to him about the benefits of using a similar mindset along their own journey.

“The thing that really helps me is when I get DMs of paragraphs and pictures showing people’s transformations,” Richardson said. 

“That’s when I really see the impact [of my content].”

The number of “likes” on his posts or the amount of followers he has on his page is not how Richardson gauges his impact. Instead, he evaluates based on the quality of information he puts out and its potential to change someone’s habits.

“It could be 20,000. It could be 20 million,” he said. “At the end of the day, when you’re doing something that’s helping people out, it’s going to make a big impact, whether that impact is seen, recorded or not shown.”

Richardson’s father, Barry, said he is proud of the development he’s seen in his son, and the determination he has always carried. 

He said there was a time when Richardson was dealing with a difficult soccer coach who wouldn’t give him play time as a testimony of his relentlessness. Instead of giving up, Barry said his son trained hard to improve so much the coach didn’t have a choice but to let him play.

“That’s when I saw him dig deep and dig hard,” he said. 

“[Langston was] doing it as more reflection of [himself]. Langston dug deep and was able to overcome to make the team and did the same to deal with the injuries and so forth.”

Barry sees his son as someone who is going to always grow from adversities for the betterment of himself and his family. As of now, Richardson has no idea how far he can go despite the progress he has made as an individual, according to Barry.

“I see him as a phoenix just learning to even understand his own wings,” he said. 

“You have to be tested and baptized in the fire and pushed to your limits to actually turn into what you become.”

In the future, Richardson wants to apply his father’s “philosophical for no reason” outlook to inspire people as a motivational speaker.

“I want to be able to capture an audience and impact them on such a deep level that they feel inclined to change,” he said.  

The relationship between one’s effort in the gym and their ability to conquer their problems are very closely connected, according to Richardson. 

With everything he has learned in and outside of the gym, Richardson said he knows he has the ability to bring the best out of people.

“Everybody’s good at something,” he said. 

“I just think that the most important thing is bringing that out of yourself and everybody around you.”