Monday, August 27, 2012

Coming Home (2 of 3)

I was in the gym more and more every week. And as I finally began going through the motions to get certified as a Les Mills BodyPump instructor, I spent nearly as much time in the gym working out and learning choreography (all Les Mills classes are pre-choreographed) as I did at work. I was losing sleep, but each day went through the motions at work just to get to the gym. I felt alive again, felt like I was going to a place for which I was far more cut out than an office. Every morning I hit the gym either to work out with my trainer or by myself, and every evening after work I hit the gym to take a class or practice for my certification. And every evening when I left the office (I started referring to it as the "cold, florescent place") and got to the gym I felt like I was coming home.

My solo workouts were my new escape, my alone-time, meditation time, my ME time. The harder I worked, the more even-keeled and mellow I would be throughout my day. And while I wasn't sleeping as many hours, the sleep I did get was of better quality than I'd had in years.

My doctor was pleasantly shocked as my weight continued to drop, I was taken off my blood pressure medication, and where I used to get a cold every two to three months - to this day, I haven't had a cold in nearly a year.

Every morning as I put on that tie in the gym locker room it was obvious where I belonged, and where I didn't. I just didn't feel like I had a choice, that the military had been my only escape route, until one day - quite unexpectedly, the obvious slapped me in the face while I was working out with my trainer.

I had recently completed my Les Mills certification weekend, and was practicing by team teaching, getting ready for the final part of the certification - which was to film an entire class from start to finish and send in the tape to Les Mills for critique and evaluation. It was during that training that two small, seemingly insignificant events occurred that today give me goosebumps. We were sent on a two-mile run to warm up for part of the training. I ended up leading. Me. The hundred-pound overweight, chain smoking, hypertensive guy was leading a group of fitness instructors. And later that afternoon, the teacher referred to us as athletes. Athletes. I was an athlete. Really?

I've always loved to teach. I've always been especially good at it. And the gym is where I feel at home. Working out and learning how to work out changed me, inside and out. I was working out with my trainer, as I said, and that word kept popping back into my head: athlete. I feel myself changing more all the time, becoming more and more who I was meant to be. Who am I not to do this for other people? As my trainer was spotting me, standing over me while I was pressing dumbbells, it was obvious that I should be on the other side of this.

But my confidence, while increasing, still wasn't where it needed to be. I really still didn't look like a trainer, how would I sell anything? I didn't know the first thing about training, did I? I decided that would come.

I gave my notice it work - it was supposed to be an extended notice, but that didn't work out as planned. So I ordered the ACE personal trainer certification study materials. And then I spoke with the Director of Personal Training at K180 Fitness (the company with whom my trainer worked). And then I registered for the exam.

My last day in the hospitality business was uneventful. At around 1pm I walked out of hotel doors for the very last time as an employee. I was done. That was it. What did I do to celebrate? I had a Legs Day. I ran into the Group Fitness Director at our club, and informed her that my schedule was now pretty wide open. She gave some pointers on getting my taping ready, and after a few days I started scheduling classes to be videoed.

I was done. I was out. It took a while to really hit home, but I did it. I was no longer a Hospitality lifer.

My last day at the hotel was also exactly one week before I was scheduled to take Personal Training Certification exam, and I couldn't officially begin work as a trainer until I was certified. So I had to pass - there was no question. There was no "if." So that week I spent nearly every waking hour either studying for the exam or shadowing trainers. Twice I team taught BodyPump classes so that I wouldn't lose sight of my taping, but my focus was mostly on the exam.

I went into the testing facility the Friday morning of the test, and I passed. I was a personal trainer. I was a Certified Personal Trainer. It was my full time job. I can't tell you even now what that was to me, how very right it felt.

Three weeks later I recorded a BodyPump class and emailed it for evaluation. Eight days later I received an email that I had passed. I was also a certified Les Mills BodyPump instructor. I had in fact managed to change my life and move it in a new direction. I loved driving to work every morning, and still do. I'm where I'm supposed to be, doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

It's said that success is the enemy. So what now? I get better at being a trainer, yes. I read all the time, research everything, ask constant questions, and I feel like I'm getting better all the time, building a good client base and building strong relationships with them, beaming with pride as I watch people with whom I'm lucky enough to work get stronger, leaner, happier.

But in addition to working on becoming a better trainer, I realized I needed more solid goals. Something measurable. I needed another hill to climb. Not just the endless one that is getting healthier, changing my body and getting better at what I do. Those things are never-ending. I needed an attainable summit.