38 Years to build Confidence

Talking about my confidence, or lack thereof is a little more personal than the normal coaching style articles on here, but I think it still has it’s place. I’m going to tell you about my journey in the business of fitness coaching and how that’s shaped my perspective to this day.

Today is my 38th birthday. I’ll be spending the day with my family disconnected from work and the digital universe. Every year at this time I start to reflect on my life, the past year, my goals, what I’ve achieved and what I still want to achieve. This past revolution around the sun has been a very challenging yet valuable year for me. It was full of highs, lows and uncertainty, like most years I guess, but this one a little more difficult.

Although difficult, I was still aware that I have a pretty awesome life. I have a great family, I work for myself, I’m fit, I’m healthy, and I get to do what I love every day: helping others live a healthier life.

However, this year I experienced extreme financial difficulty and ended up needing to go through a bankruptcy. This was an incredibly difficult decision as I’ve always prided myself on my ability to create my own financial success.

Getting to that point of course came from a series of events and choices, not one thing in particular. Starting many years ago I got into bad financial habits and lived beyond my means. Added to that were a few changes to my career and professional path which ultimately lead to an extreme decrease in income and an inability to keep my head above water financially.

It’s those career choices and their ultimate affect that I want to share with you now.

I’ve been a professional fitness coach for the past 15 years. Since graduating University with my Kinesiology degree, I’ve worked for myself providing various services in the health and fitness industry. I started as a Personal Trainer for about a year and then transitioned to a business owner starting and running my own CrossFit gym. As my first experience into owning a business of course we had our ups and downs but overall it was successful enough to be my full time job. After a few years of that I moved back to Vancouver and decided to be an online fitness coach full time.

Well, the “full time” part is not exactly true, especially for the first couple of years. It was a real struggle to get that business going because nearly 10 years ago nobody knew what online training was. Most people assumed it was still like personal training just that I’d be watching them through Skype or something.

The biggest factor for the initial struggle of online coaching was that I was terrible at selling my services. It was a huge change from the CrossFit days because there I was selling “CrossFit” in a gym where I had a partner. Now however, I was selling me. I was selling me as a coach and my ability to help someone achieve their fitness goals. I had knowledge and experience, but I severely lacked confidence in myself.

After a couple of years sticking to it I finally built my online coaching to a point where it was my sole source of income. Over the next few years I did quite well. Well enough to consider hiring other coaches to help me with some of the workload. Being online, it gave me flexibility to work from anywhere and pursue other passions. I used that flexibility to pursue a new business project in New York state for a few months.

Sadly, after 4 intense months in New York, the project was not ready to build a business the way I wanted. I left New York not only without a new business to build, but with a significant drop in my online clients. Instead of coming out ahead, I was basically at a point of needing to start over.

I didn’t really want to start over with online coaching because it was hard as hell the first time and with this new failure I lost my confidence again. I needed something different.

Something different ended up meaning creating and building an entirely new gym concept, in Mexico. I’ve spent the past 4 years focused on that business and of course it too has provided another ride of ups and downs. Not only ups and downs of starting a new business, but from learning a new language, living in a new culture, and starting my own family.

The business is now at point where we have full time trainers, a couple of locations, and even a couple of franchise locations. It’s not a booming success, it still has its struggles, but it’s given me some space to get back into the ‘learning’ side of fitness and health and re-exploring my views on the way I want to help others live a healthier life.

For the past few months I’ve used that privilege to do a deep dive into research and study about the human body, function, and healthy living. Although I’ve done many difference versions of fitness coaching over the years, I’ve always stuck to my kinesiology roots coming from the perspective of how the body functions. I always want to provide exercises and workouts that connect us with how our body functions and not just what is popular and trendy in the moment.

My latest research craze has been focused on wanting to live a highly active life until the day I die. Nowadays we are living longer than ever, however, for many people their final years are spent with limited mobility or function. They are alive, but they aren’t living.

I personally have NO plans to live my last years in a wheelchair or care home without a high level of function. I like what James Fitzgerald from OPEX says on this idea: at 95 I want to wake up full of energy, have sex, and be very active and mentally acute throughout my day, every day. Like him, I want to die because I feel off a cliff or something exciting, not because my arteries degenerated long enough to block my heart from being able to provide itself with blood.

Now, as a professional coach, I always think about how I can help others achieve that same quality of life for their entire life? This is where things get exciting!

As the article is titled, the point of this story is what it has taken me to build my confidence to be become a great coach. As I mentioned, throughout my career and with many struggles and failures, I never felt very confident in myself. I always felt like there is SO MUCH out there that I still don’t know about fitness or the body. How can I possibly help someone reach their goals if I don’t even know what I’m talking about?!?!

I even got a tattoo that says “nobody knows what they are doing”. Mainly as a reminder to myself that it’s ok to not know everything, but I still struggled with confidence around whether or not I was providing the best information and services possible to my clients.

The exciting part and reason for this article is that I finally feel like I have that confidence in my role as a coach!

These 15 years of success, failure, struggle, challenge, learning, experiences, study, research, exploration and personal trial have lead to point of knowing exactly how I want to help people live their best lives.

Just like I could never hire a “life coach” that only took a course but hasn’t truly lived, I felt I couldn’t be a fitness coach from my degree alone. I had to have an experience of fitness. Well, 15 years, hundreds (if not a couple thousand) clients, hundreds of hours of study, research and self practice, and 7 businesses later, I think I’m finally figuring out this professional health coach thing out. I’ve finally built my confidence!

I’ve now had 25 years of experience training my own body and have worked with people from 12 to 67. I’m not a 21 year old fitness model on instagram writing programs for anyone who pays $19.99 a month. I’m someone who has experience with many different training styles and even the effects age has on the body. I have a better understanding of what it really takes to train for longevity and not just creating short term results.

I’ve seen the mentality of CrossFit make people strive for daily PR’s while neglecting their injuries or building proper foundations leaving them broken and burnt out. I’ve seen the desire for fun workouts turn into a true fitness “club” with dark lights, loud music and probably even a DJ at times. I’ve seen HIIT become the be-all-end-all so that a great workout is defined as finishing your workout in a pool of your own sweat or vomit, even if you can’t walk properly for the next week. I’ve seen “functional fitness” turn into single arm shoulder presses while balancing on one knee on a Bosu ball or partial range push ups with all 4 limbs shaking like a leaf in the wind on top of 4 medicine balls. Because that’s clearly how we naturally function… I’ve seen “streaks” of fitness achieved by getting your daily steps in, even if that means jumping up and down or just straight up shaking your Fitbit for a few minutes at the end of the day. I’ve seen the green check mark of “healthy eating” get checked off for the day because they ate a gluten free waffle with sugar free ice cream, organic cocoa sauce and naturally sweet agave syrup. I’ve seen the “body hacks” like the 7 min abs, the 12 day fat blaster home workout, the AI designed workout app, the electrocute-your-abs-into-a-six-pack devices, and the never ending low fat, low carb, low calories, low sodium, low sugar, low flavour, low everything, 99 calorie pack of cookies bullshit and all similarly focused diets.

Ultimately, what I’ve seen is nearly every way possible someone can get a shortcut or “easy” version of getting healthy in as little time as possible. And what I’ve learned is that at best you’ll get some short term success but it always comes at a sacrifice of some other area of health, and it rarely lasts.

All of this time and experience has finally given me the confidence to offer a coaching service that I truly believe in and won’t compromise on. As the rapper Russ says: “Success is something I’ve been blessed with mentally”. I now know in my mind that I can be successful as a fitness coach helping my clients achieve lifelong health and vitality to reach that 95+ year goal.

My entire coaching focus is now on vitality and longevity. Living our best life for our whole life!

To achieve that it means creating a true healthy lifestyle. I find the definition healthy lifestyle by Dr Satchin Panda very appealing: WHAT, WHEN and HOW MUCH we EAT, MOVE and SLEEP on a daily basis.

I focus on exercise that truly improves our function and mobility for the rest of our lives and not just a quick aesthetic change.

I focus on nutrition that supports growth, repair, vitality, mental acuity and a strong constitution for prevention from disease and living an energetic life.

I focus on sleep, circadian rhythm, stress, mental fortitude and connection with our natural environment for a holistic view addressing all aspects of health.

Ultimately, this crazy 15 year journey has brought me back to online coaching and starting a couple of new projects with my new found confidence. I want to put what I’ve learned to use and offer a variety of services to help people who align with the values and priorities above. I’m tired of the bullshit services, quick fix mentality, and intensity over everything mindset of the industry. It’s time to step up, raise my voice, not allow the crap to survive, and to offer a service held to a much higher standard!

It’s time to use this confidence to be the change I want to see!

If you’d like to you can check out my coaching options here, or keep an eye out for future posts about my other projects.

If nothing else, I hope that sharing my story can either motivate you to shift your focus to longevity and vitality rather than fashion and trends or help people see what it takes to truly build their confidence and start raising their voice!

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