The antithetical feelings I got between the excitement from the email I read this morning and the gut punch text message I had received three weeks ago are still making my head spin a little. When I read that text message, I felt so defeated, so beaten down, I just had an overwhelming sensation of no way out from under a heavy burden. Rarely in my life have I ever dealt with this low a point, I’ve been blessed with an ever-optimistic spirit, sometimes nauseatingly optimistic, but this just seemed so unfair, it felt like just too much, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. In order to give you a true scope of why just one text message put me so hard on my heels, let me give you a snapshot of our family dynamics for the past several years…I promise, it won’t take all that long. J
Six years ago, after graduating from Western Michigan University, my wife and I set our sights southward, packed up the little ones, and headed to the “sunshine state” for the stronger fitness industry and better weather. I picked up a job as a Personal Trainer with 24 Hour Fitness, and I have been working for them for the past 6 years (six years today, actually.) I promoted five times from a level 1 Trainer, all the way up to Assistant Fitness Manager. I was given the Anthem Award from 24 Hour Fitness, was featured in their Magazine as an exemplary Personal Trainer and Paralympic Athlete, and more times than I remember was the top in sales for my club. I felt that my direction was clear as I began developing more of my management skills, and I was told by a panel of higher ups that I was ready to move into the next position when one became available. Things seemed good, I was enjoying my work, seeing lives change, and there was little ambiguity about where I was going in life. What I didn’t realize was that I had just hit the apex of the roller-coaster and was about to start the drop.
Being a full-time Personal Trainer presents some unique challenges that really started to wear on my family and me. As a Personal Trainer, the flexibility of setting my own hours was great! However, I had to match my schedule to that of my clients. Some people could only workout in the morning, others only at night, some only on Saturday, some just on federally recognized holidays, some only when their cat was feeling well…you get the idea. If they didn’t train, I didn’t get paid, so it was a tricky balancing act to make it work. Now that I was in management, I had to fill in around those appointments with management duties. Some days I worked up to 16 hours. This began to take a toll on my training regiment as an athlete, and on my marriage, and I found myself getting sporadic sleep and not enough time with my kids. I interviewed for a full management position a couple of times and wasn’t given the job. I was dealing with a lot of accessibility issues with the computer system, and tried hard to get accommodations for that, but they were slow in coming and that made my job difficult. That may have been the reason I wasn’t promoted, I don’t know. In the end we realized though that the next promotion would still have been a lot of hours for not much better pay, so I’m glad that didn’t happen anyway. Since I knew I didn’t have any hope of moving up in this company, my wife and I started to look for other career options for me.
My wife, Leanne, along with all of her responsibilities of homeschooling our children and keeping up our home, took on the role of secretary and began putting out applications for me to various jobs. For months on end, she perused the job ads online, filled out applications, instructed me to write cover letters, etc. She was awesome! Despite all that work, we found ourselves at one closed door after another. We received many rejection letters, if we got any response at all. It was very disheartening, but we kept praying and waiting for God’s plan to be revealed.
About six months ago, I got the news that my company, 24 Hour Fitness, was packing up shop and moving across town to a new location. So now, not only was I working long hours, but instead of a 12-minute walk to and from work, I tacked on an hour and a half bus ride each way. Needless to say, I was feeling a crunch, my long days had just become longer, often leaving before the kids were even awake, and sometimes getting home after they were asleep. This needed to change, and quickly…I was starting to wonder how far this roller-coaster drop was going to go, the ground was coming up fast.
I moved with the company, did my best to make it work for about three months, and was stumbling along, when I found a glimmer of light. I found out that another fitness company was moving into the building that my company had just vacated. I wasn’t super interested in a lateral move, but anything to relieve the pressure from my over burdened schedule. Setting up an interview with them, I was told that they wanted to bring me on, and having worked in that location for so long, they had already had many people asking if I would be training there. This was it! Not only was this better because of the location, but it turns out that the pay structure of this new company would put me in a position where I would have less management duties, more pay, and steadier hours. I was stoked! They said that they would be ready to bring me on board at the end of March. Doing my touch-down celebration dance, I began marking off the days on my calendar, making preparations, closing accounts, informing my clients, and generally doing the work to make a clean break…but then I got the text. And I braced for impact.
“I’m sorry to have to tell you this, because I’m sure that you were preparing to make this transition, but we are going to have to wait a few more months to bring you on, our membership base is just not high enough to support another trainer at this time.” Insert gut punch here. I tried telling them that I would not be coming in cold, but that I would be bringing business with me; however, they had made their decision to wait. Not only was I mentally prepared to make this move, but several of my clients who had followed me over to the new location, were now trying to decide what to do, since they had planned on, and were looking forward to, working out closer to home again as well. I was losing business fast, had no alternative options, and was stuck in a position that was going nowhere, and was no longer paying the bills…all in all, I’ve been better, you know what I mean?
I’m not one for despair, but that was a rough day. I was down like I’ve rarely been in the past. My wife and I prayed just as we had been for the past several months for a door to open, for something to come along, for something to release the pressure valve…then, the next day, it came to me, just like that.
I’m not a huge movie buff, but you know the scene from the Grinch movie were the narrator says “And then, the Grinch got an idea. The Grinch got an awful, wonderful idea.” And then you see the big grin slowly spread across the Grinch’s face? Well, my idea wasn’t exactly “awful,” but I wish I had a life narrator at that moment. 😊 For the last several months, I had been supplementing our income with various Public Speaking events, and small workshops with various organizations. I was finding it to be a major enjoyment, but just wasn’t finding the time to build it like I wanted. My speaking and training were both such a passion of mine, but I was working so many hours with training that I couldn’t do much speaking, and the thought was that when I picked up my speaking career, I would need to cut way back on the training. These two passions of mine seemed to be pushing against each other in a sense. Then I thought, do these two things really need to be in opposition? Why not do them both together? Why not let them feed and support one another? Why should I continue to work for someone else’s project? Why should I continue to allow the dozens of ideas in my head about how to serve a greater population with fitness, speaking, training, and more, to just lie dormant? Why could I not go out on my own, do some independent training, and have more time to work my own career? Why not form my own company that put all of this together!?
Today, on my last official day with 24 Hour Fitness, I received an email from Sun Biz, stating my company, ReVision Training LLC, was formed effective April 3, 2019. The mission of this company is to provide training for both body and mind in a spiritually safe environment. An organization that is the conglomerate of my love for fitness, faith, perseverance, motivation, learning, and growth. We will be branching off into many avenues, not much information I can provide on that yet, but suffice it to say, I have an extensive business plan that I believe will impact so many lives for the better. ReVision Training LLC is a dream of mine that I truly have had for years, but only through the circumstances of the past year or more have I had the opportunity and the determination to take those dreams and do my best to breathe life into them.
Doors have been opening left and right since making this decision. I have told a handful of people some of my business ideas, and everything that I have heard has been positive and inspired. This whole situation is such a powerful testament again to the many blessings I have been given in my life, and my hope is that it is a reminder to you as well, that even when things seem dark, or heavy, or like the roller-coaster drop will never end, there is a plan that is being unfolded in your life, and it’s critical to trust in what God is doing. I’m so excited about my new company and looking forward to amplifying the lives of those around me, and maybe now, even on a larger scale. I know the roller-coaster ride is just starting, but the track has swung up again, and is rocketing off into a distant route of ups and downs, loops and turns, and is sure to be a fast and exciting ride.