I started my fitness career at 24 hour fitness.
It was a new gym, just a few miles away from my parent’s home in Elk Grove, CA. Since I never played a sport, as a non-athlete, I always depended on workout videos and group classes for my fitness regimen. I had my first gym membership at a Racquet club at 14 and began volunteering as an aerobics instructor in my high school class at 16. When this beautiful, state-of-the-art gym opened up when I was 18, I received my membership and even invested $99 of my savings for 3 sessions with a personal trainer (which I regretted after the first unproductive session).
I would continue to casually train there and talk to various employees, some who worked at the prior club I once attended. One day, I saw three men competing to see who could perform the most pushups on a barbell. I couldn’t recall having ever completed more than a few pushups in gym class, but was encouraged to try by one of the guys. I was 20 years old, I never trained with free weights and was approaching my junior year at UC Davis. After placing my hands shoulder width apart on the dumb bell, I was instructed to slowly descend into a lowered pushup position, hold for three seconds then rise. I don’t remember how many I completed that day, but on a busy evening at 24 Hour Fitness, I surprisingly beat the boys and heard one of the guys declare, “I want you to be one of my personal trainers! I am the Fitness Manager here.” His name was Jesus Sandavol, and he scheduled my interview the next day.
I fell in love with fitness being at that gym. The trainers were passionate, young, smart, attractive and charismatic. Our Fitness Manager was motivating, thoughtful and driven. Every day he taught me a new exercise. I watched as other trainers utilize different exercise techniques with their clients. I observed how to close a sales deal. Even though I became properly certified, read countless training books and have personal experience, I was nervous selling my services.
Within two weeks I had a full clientele.
I thrived as a trainer. I loved watching my clients’ progress, gain confidence and become stronger. I loved learning about the body, learning about my body and getting paid to help people. It was a golden moment in my life, a time that I can reflect back with each trainer – who are mostly still in the fitness industry – and be thankful for.
It wasn’t always easy and I struggled managing my school and work schedule. I remember distinctly the day when I sat in Jesus’ office and he gave me the gift of belief. Like a diamond, he said, I would need pressure to grow and eventually shine. He saw in me, the potential to do amazing things with my combined talents, passions and work ethic. Similar to my efforts to help my clients uncover their strength, he was also doing the same with me.
Whatever path we choose, often times, the harder journey leads you closer to you.
All of us eventually left 24 Hour Fitness. Some left with their clients. Some became bitter by their policies. Some still worked for them yet continued to be resentful for feeling overworked, under appreciated or underpaid. There were some who loved working there.
I was one of them.
I loved 24 Hour Fitness. It was a place I met amazing people, discovered my bliss and earned a living. There are aspects I liked and disliked about my work environment, but I knew that every day I woke up, I chose to be there…whether it was for a paycheck or my client. We all make agreements with the interactions with people, places and things in our lifetime. We are willing to make compromises and exchanges in any working contract, but once one becomes unfulfilled, hit a plateau, or attained what we wanted – like any relationship – it’s broken, and the contract is cancelled.
As a business owner and leader of a nonprofit effort, I similarly work with people who are discovering, like I once did, their newfound identities and fervor they have for fitness. It’s incredible to watch women become empowered by their weight loss journey and want to share their passion with other people. Like 24 Hour Fitness, No Excuse Mom is their vehicle for attracting and bringing people together. While I am the engine behind the machine, our admins, regional managers and local leaders are the drivers in their communities, motivating members, developing relationships and creating change. They are the hands, legs, and faces of NEM and I’m so thankful to work with an incredible group of women.
But like all things, there is nothing constant but change.
Inevitably we will all keep moving, changing and progressing. I will continue to watch my vehicle being used to drive them to their next journey in life, whether it is to become an instructor, develop a fitness brand or own a business. Some will continue working up the ranks of NEM and stay this course with me. Whatever the path, I am thankful I was part of their path, as well as them being part of mine.
There are no regrets in a life truly examined. To reflect is to remember why every person, event and feeling was purposeful in order to be exactly where you are, right now, in this conscious moment in time.
Be thankful. Even when this journey hurts. There is purpose if you seek it. The key is to seek it, or else, you will never be found.
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