It’s funny. As I look back over the last 18 years in the fitness industry it doesn’t seem like it should have gone that fast, but here we are. As I prepare to ramble on for the next few moments, I’ll hope you’ll indulge me as I look back on where I came from, where I’ve been and where I think I’m heading. It’s been fun and there is a whole lot of gas left in the tank.
I can’t be certain but I am pretty sure I started lifting weights to impress girls. Vanity, while shallow, has always been a big reason I worked out but it’s funny how the mind works in a kind, gracious way. I am still fairly vain but over the last few years I have become more concerned about cholesterol and blood sugar than body fat (although if you are keeping a low level of body fat there is a pretty darn good chance you’ll have decent cholesterol and blood sugar numbers).
And while longevity is important, I would rather feel good than look good at this stage in the game. Nutritionally, I have always stuck to the plan of eating clean Monday thru Friday then let loose on the weekends and within 5 pounds, I have maintained the same weight I was when I graduated college. Yet somewhere around age 36 I decided fruits, vegetables and water were good for me and son of a gun, my physique improved. I wonder how far I could have taken it if I ate as clean as I do now when I was in college, had the testosterone of an 18 year old and wasn’t drinking a 12-pack every Saturday night? We’ll never know but I will tell you that eating clean and healthy 85% of the time while indulging the other 15% is a great way to live and very liberating. I also supplement well using products from trusted companies such as Designs for Health and Wilderness Athlete; companies I market in my fitness businesses to my friends, family and clients. I have become a product of the product and it works.
I have learned that while sugar and fried foods do taste good, I feel terrible after consuming them and it simply isn’t worth the pain. I still indulge a little (see 15% above) but nothing like I used to do in my younger days. The same can be said for the lite beers as well. Again, I like feeling good so I avoid over consumption of foods a lot of folks are scarfing down on a daily basis. It works for me.
About ten years ago my focus switched from biceps and washboard abs and more to overall health and prevention. That epiphany coincided with the birth of my sons. I plan to be around to harass those two knuckle- butts until I am a very old and cranky man.
When I graduated Southeast Missouri State University in 1999 I was chock full of useful stats and statistics about health and fitness. I could recite the entire values standards for total cholesterol by heart and tell you exactly how many sets and reps you should be performing three days a week in order to build muscle. I could also calculate fancy metabolic equations that would tell you how many liters of oxygen you were consuming per minute of exercise along with the subsequent calorie burn estimation. This knowledge made me a very well informed trainer but not the best trainer I could be.
Truthfully, and for all of those who worked with me back then, my apologies, I don’t think I became a good trainer until age 35. It was about that time that I realized it was less about the programming and more about connecting with that person that helped them have a life-changing breakthrough. In the beginning I wanted to tell every client everything I knew in session #1. Time has taught me that slow change is always better than fast change. Fitness and nutrition should never be a “rip the band aid off fast” approach. Once I learned that, I started seeing clients improving more. Drastically improving.
Exercise and nutrition programming is important. Having the trust of a client who has bought into your philosophy because they like you and know you care is more important.
I enjoy building things. If someone asks my professional goal I reply to “be the Oprah of fitness.” It’s lofty but something I think about all the time. Between my role managing the BJC WellAware Center and running Integrated Wellness Concepts and Fit To Hunt, you would think I would be overwhelmed, but I am not. I am kind of ticked that I didn’t build these great things when I was 15 years younger and didn’t have kids yet but truthfully, I wasn’t ready to be an entrepreneur or manager. I do work hard with my team members to help mentor them so they don’t have to stumble and bumble like I did those first years in the work force. Who knows? I may call on them for a job one day? Besides, Richard Branson has his hand in hundreds of companies. Surely I can manage three businesses, right?
Do I really want to be the “Oprah of fitness?” I don’t think I need that title. In the end, if I can create something that helps people and perhaps a legacy in case my kids decide they want to hop into the family business, it will be all good. All I really need is about 500 acres….maybe in Montana with a trout stream running through it and a lot of elk to hunt. I don’t pretend that I am going to keep this grind going forever and ever. One day I’ll fade away to a ranch where I can hunt, fish, plant trees and do the things that make me happy with the people who make me happy. But that is a few years off.
There are 101 things I could have done differently. Hindsight is always 20/20. But, I have always figured God put me in the positions or situations I was in for a purpose. Perhaps to teach me a lesson or to be there for a person who needed my help? Either way, it made me the trainer and man I am today so there isn’t a much use in thinking about what might have been. I’m more excited to see what the next 40 years brings.