Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Be inspired and never be afraid to dream.

With autumn fast approaching, the leaves on the trees outside will soon tell us that summer is over. The "end of summer" is sometimes synonymous with the "end of fun," often symbolizing the end of life as we currently know it. Picnics, swimming, beaches, sailing, and shorts are all replaced with big feasts at dinner tables, dying leaves, driving with the windows up, and pants (I hate pants!). Sounds like the end all of end all, doesn't it? Wrong.

Autumn can be seen as a fresh start to lots of things! School, football season, and people returning to the gym after their summer adventures are all prime examples of starting new when the world outside is telling us we should be doing otherwise. There will be many new folks starting up through several of our programs at the YMCA in Portland in September, and I'll have the privilege of working with them and helping them start out on a new path for a healthier life.

Thinking about the influx of new clients I'm about to get, I'm reminded of when I started off on a path of healthy living not all that long ago.

Let's rewind to the year 2006. It was autumn (ironically enough), and I had just moved back to Maine from Colorado. I didn't have a definite long term place to live, so I moved in with my brother in a tiny Portland apartment and got a seasonal job working at LL Bean. I had been relatively active in Colorado, having been a member at the Denver YMCA and doing a lot of hiking, trying to bag as many 14,000 foot peaks as I could. All I was really doing was trying to have as much fun as possible while maintaining the level of fitness I achieved while hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2005.

When I moved to Portland, I signed up for a Planet Fitness membership under my brother's card. I didn't really like it as it was crowded and full of teenie-boppers, but it was free and only about a mile from where I lived. So I started going there, spending most of  my time waiting for machines and benches, slogging through countless sets of chest presses and lat pull downs, and chatting with pals I hadn't seen in a long time. I had no idea what I was doing, but didn't really know otherwise.

My job at LL Bean was for second shift warehouse work. I'd usually get home around midnight, eat something terrible, watch a little TV, then go to bed. It was during one of these late night TV viewings that I saw something that changed my life....an infomercial for P90X.

What was this? Some cheesy at home workout along the lines of The Firm, Billy Blanks, or some God-forsaken Richard Simmons routine? Or was this different? After a lot of research a little "what the hell" attitude, I ordered up P90X.

The conclusion was that this was different. Way different. Working out was suddenly fun AND convenient! No more waiting around to do an umpteenth set of chest presses. The workouts were fast, efficient, and hard. I went through the 90 days once, and then again. I got fit. I mean really, really fit. "This is great!" I thought to myself. "I'll never go back to the gym again!"

Then I got bored. As good as the program was, there's only so many times one can do the same routine without getting tired of it. But I was inspired. I learned that exercise didn't have to mean countless lat pull downs, crunches, leg presses, or chest presses. There was a world of exercise programming and variety out there just waiting to be tapped into. So I went through the next two years putting together my own routines and seeing how creative I could get with all kinds of different exercise equipment. Man was it fun!

 I was still at LL Bean at the time (March 2010), and I spent much of that spring not working due to low work volumes. The retail world is very up and down depending on many uncontrollable influences, so I thought to myself--do I want to continue on this path in life, always wondering how much my paycheck would be, trudging along in a truly meaningless job? Or do I want to take control of my life, help people in the fight against obesity, and show them that exercise and healthy living can be fun? Yeah, I think I'll choose the latter, thanks...

I went to the computer that spring and did extensive research on finding the best personal training certification I could, and the National Academy of Sports Medicine was the answer. I ordered up the materials, spent my work-less days studying, and became certified in May 2010. I got some experience at a small training studio in Yarmouth, Maine, and  year and a half later I was able to leave LL Bean after landing an absolutely unbelievable job as a full time trainer at the Cumberland County YMCA in Portland. I still teach classes in Yarmouth and coach cross-country and track, but the bulk of my time is spent at the Y.

The dream was relatively short as I didn't waste much time turning it into reality, and now I'm happier than I've ever been. I've made some incredible like-minded friends within the past year. A client has even thanked me for saving his life. Inspiration comes in many forms; mine can be traced back to an infomercial. So I ask you: Where does your inspiration come from?

As the leaves start to fall this autumn, think about what inspires you and how you can start something fresh and new. Maybe it's a hobby you've always wanted to do. Maybe it's going to a far away place you've never been. Maybe it's joining a club and making new friends. Maybe it's looking for an exciting new job so you can quit your current boring one. Whatever you come up with, make sure you follow through on it. Life is an incredibly short ride that can take you on a number of journeys, so why not spend your valuable time on a journey you truly enjoy?

1 comment:

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