How Fitness Saved my Life
What does fitness mean to you? When have you looked at fitness as more than just a way to look aesthetically pleasing? Why do people have such a hard time committing to an action plan when it comes to a fitness transformation? All of these questions seem to always be on the forefront of my mind when I meet a new client for the first time. After all, being a personal trainer is not really about changing someone physically (even though that is one of the outcomes), it’s about helping them reflect on their ideologies and perhaps show them that like all life battles, we must begin with our mind before we change our body.
Sometimes our fitness journey begins because we need to see a change in the mirror. Maybe it is because we need something to distract our minds from the everyday struggles of reality, or perhaps the most important of all, we use it as a form of therapy. Whatever the case may be, we all have to agree that it takes effort, time, and dedication to see a change.
For me fitness became my savior when I left teaching back in June of 2014. Almost 10 years of my life were spent in a classroom. For the majority of that time I absolutely loved it. My students (many of whom I run into today and still hug with open arms) were the reason I went to work. The classroom environment always excited me and being around young energetic minds kept me young as well. Unfortunately after years of service I began to feel an emptiness in my soul. The politics and nepotism in our public school system became too discouraging to me, and I decided to try another course of action. I decided to take my money out of the pension system (which inadvertently stripped me of my years of service), as well as my 401K, and took a risk on myself and went out into the world as a fitness entrepreneur.
For two years I spent my time training for the hit TV show American Ninja Warrior, and put food on the table by being an independent personal trainer. At night during my free time I worked on my business plan for a ninja gym I wanted to open in the Monmouth County area. Even with all the distractions going on, I began to feel lost and without a real cause.
For those of you who have had to go through a period of time without employment, you may be very familiar with the feeling of being lost. The professions we pursue should be the reason why we better ourselves day in and day out. Teaching was my livelihood and once I walked away from it, I felt empty. I didn’t want to go back to teaching, and I didn’t want to go into a profession I didn’t love. I was restless at home, and I needed something to distract me from the mental stress I was placing on myself day in and day out. This restlessness led to training, and the training was based around the competition. I would train Monday through Sunday, sometimes twice or three times a day for two years. When I wasn’t running, I was rock climbing, or kayaking, or practicing martial arts or gymnastics, or lifting, or stretching. I busied myself day in and day out to train for a competition that I had no guarantee competing in.
The workouts were grueling, but they distracted me from my thoughts. My thoughts of feeling inept, useless, and incomplete would lay at the wayside when I focused in on my workouts. The workouts gave me a reason for waking up in the morning. The workouts kept me in shape and prevented me from sitting on the couch and feeling sorry for myself. The workouts were the one thing that I had to rely on. My wife and kids were obviously a cornerstone as well, but sometimes the presence of other people is not enough to battle the inner demons we feel. As time passed, even my wife began to wonder where I was going with this crazy journey, and to be honest, at the time, I had no idea. The gym was my only solace, a safe haven where I could escape and leave my worries behind.
As time passed I became stronger, faster, leaner, and more agile. I became obsessed with ninja culture and being functionally fit. I wanted a shot on the TV show so bad that it was all I thought about. Unfortunately I was never given the opportunity to compete, but I still submit my video every year and hope to get a chance eventually. I realize now that the competition wasn’t the most important goal. The competition was a beacon of light that kept me sane in a world of tumultuous feelings.
So after two years of soul searching, luck would intervene on my fitness journey and bring me to OVOX. When I met Stu Rosenstein for our first interview, I wasn’t nervous at all. I had nothing to lose and saw this as an informal meeting that could potentially lead to some personal training. In my mind I was already on a path, and nothing was going to get in my way. I expressed from day one my value and understanding of my own self worth, and because of this my feelings were understood and finally recognized. What started as an informal meeting became something so much larger. Once I saw the vision from the owners of OVOX, I knew that I would be a powerful force within the company. I still believe to this day, that if I didn’t have those two years to lose myself, I would have never truly realized who I was and what I was meant to do.
The energy I exuded on the day of the interview came from the years of strenuous torture I put myself through, both physically and mentally. The struggles I overcame during this period of my life, made me realize that I have everything to offer, and nothing to lose. The false security of a regular paycheck left me stagnant, and it wasn’t until the universe intervened that I realized, I needed to let go of my fears, in order to evolve and become a better person.
What I plan on bringing to this gym is the same thing I bring to my own workouts. I want every member to walk out of our doors feeling ten times better than the way they felt coming in. The gym is a home for those who seek change, a place of solitude where your frustrations and feelings can be released through physical challenges. I am here to make sure my clients learn that the fitness journey they are going on is not just about a physical transformation. It is about the reevaluation of the self juxtaposed the society we live in.
We can never truly be happy with the way we look if our goal is to look like someone else. Remember that your personal growth should never be compared to someone else’s. To achieve your fitness goals you must let go of the vision inside your mind, and focus on the reality that is in front of you. If you are short, working out will not make you tall, and if you are tall, working out will not making you short. Remember that your genetics and basic body composition is infinitesimally different then every other person on earth. Because of this fact alone, you should never gauge your growth against another individual. Focus only on your own personal successes and let those moments be the purpose you push yourself further.
When I come into the gym, I smile every time I walk in because I know that my workout is going to soothe my busy mind. The sooner you learn fitness is therapy, the better your workouts become. Don’t come into the gym because you have to look good for the summer, come into the gym so you feel amazing for a lifetime. Don’t come into the gym for the sake of coming, come to the gym for the sake of your well being. Don’t come to the gym to please other people, come to the gym to please yourself. Take pride in your fitness journey and remember that the most challenging part of the workout is showing up.
“Ride the Wave”