Whenever I’m asked about my own workouts and my own regimen it usually jogs my memory with exactly how long I’ve been doing this. How long I’ve been immersed (and perhaps even a little obsessed) in fitness. As of this writing, it’s been 15 years that I’ve been in pursuit of my own personal improvements, physically speaking. And as I look back at this time and the progress I’ve made in my own quest for better health, greater strength, more endurance and greater physical mobility, I’ve noticed that the greatest changes happen right under your nose. It’s true what they say regarding a watched pot never boiling. Hindsight being 20/20, I tend to view it as a mountain I’ve climbed. Where, at the beginning, everything seemed too high and nearly impossible. That I’d never reach the summit and build the body I craved to possess. So instead I grappled with smaller goals and breaking the big task into smaller chunks in order to chip away at the stone, little by little. And that methodology worked. Instead of going for the quick fix mindset of “getting in shape for summer” or “burning off that holiday waistline” I approached it as a paradigm shift in lifestyle and approach.
Throughout high school I was your typical unathletic kid who enjoyed trips to gym class like he enjoyed his next trip to receive a root canal. But during my senior year of high school a friend of mine (also in a nearly identical physical situation) got his first weight set and began working out at home. Diligent work paid the requisite dividends and he transformed himself. A definite eye-opener for me. When he upgraded his weight set, I took his old one and promptly brought it home. What once seemed hopeless now seemed possible, and once I began my own first workouts, inevitable. It was so empowering, just feeling that level of command where my physical destiny was concerned. Trips to the local library yielded book after book. Anything I could get my hands on from athletic training to high-level bodybuilding. I wanted to know it all regarding augmentation of human performance and metamorphosis of the human physique.
In the later portion of the summer of 2002, while trudging through another position in retail, the light bulb finally burst in my mind: Pursue a career in fitness (*slaps forehead*). Of all the gyms in the area I applied to, one hired me on as a desk staffer. The other people I worked with viewed it as a job and nothing more. But in contrast, I looked at all of the equipment and felt like a kid in a candy shop. My paltry home weight set was infinitesimal compared to this arsenal. Garnering my first certification was a long process. In fact, my study materials arrived from the ISSA in 2003. I spent the next two years reading and re-reading the text. Just…absorbing it, putting it into practice. While working out on my own time I had also begun shadowing my then manager, himself a top-tier trainer and former athlete. My curiosity and thirst for knowledge had me follow him around like Conan The Barbarian, searching for the elusive Riddle of Steel. After watching him work with clients and also experiencing his workouts firsthand, I’d realized that even though I could pass the written portion of the certification exam with relative ease, I had SO much to learn in terms of real-world, on-the-floor application. I was outgunned and unprepared. Even if I passed the test with flying colors I wasn’t ready to train myself, let alone anyone else.
For two years I worked on the text and on applying everything I’d learned to rebuild my own body. Using myself as a guinea pig for training and dietary methods instead of practicing on a client (a methodology I adhere to and believe in fully). That work, that patience, paid off. After blitzing my written portion at the tail end of 2004, I’d begun the process of training actual clients. Like a driver’s learning permit, it doesn’t automatically make you a good driver. Rather the permit, like the certification, allows you to get out there and learn even more. To adapt your skills and knowledge into actual practice. But the key thing I’ve found? You can, should and must always learn MORE.
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