Fruit Jar Piggy Bank…
Over a decade ago, after a long workday in the gym where I was training my clients, I arrived home, opened a mason jar I kept on my kitchen counter, and counted the money it contained. Having not counted it for a while, I knew instantly I had enough to equip my 3-car garage with everything I would need to train my fitness clients from home. To that point, I had been working nearly 12 hours per day, 6 days per week at my local gym – for nearly two years. I wanted to work less, to simplify, and moving my business to my home was the first step in that process. Still, I was unsure about the transition.
I traded emails with my older brother for several days as I agonized over what to do. His final email to me on the subject contained a phrase I will remember for the rest of my life,
“If you leap” he said, “the net will appear”.
That was all I needed. In that moment I made the decision to leave the gym, set up shop at home, and take my chances. The following Saturday I walked into a fitness equipment wholesale warehouse as if I had just stepped off of my private jet, and pointed to all the things I wanted as the salesman walked behind me rolling his eyes.
“I’ll need THAT!” I said, “And a couple of those.” “Oh, and I definitely need that!” I even remember saying to him, “I hope you’re writing this down!”
I walked up and down every isle, pointed, demanded, and purposefully never made never made eye contact with my guy in tow. I’m certain he thought he was going through the motions, and that I had no intention of buying any of what I was looking at. He looked stunned when I stood by the cash register after an hour or so, waiting for him, and tapping my finger.
The ticket rang up to a little under ten thousand dollars. “I’ll be paying in cash” I said smugly. Suddenly his disbelief vanished. I peeled off dozens of hundred-dollar bills as we scheduled the delivery for early the following week. I was just as smug when I suggested the delivery guys “be prompt”, or I might not be back for more next week.
A Good Run…
That weekend I installed panel lighting in the ceiling of my garage. I finished, and textured the walls, my friend Christa painted them for me, and a studio was born. Though my studio would be moved several times, for the next decade I had the best life a man could hope to have.
I only made fair living in dollars and cents, but in freedom and enjoyment, I was wealthier than any man I knew. My commute involved bare feet, and stepping over my dogs without spilling my coffee as I entered my studio.
During this period I had the pleasure of meeting and working with magnificent people. I lived an aesthetic, if not an ascetic life. My rule of thumb was that if you had a job, you probably couldn’t afford me. The demographic in which I lived supported that. I could write an entire book about the personalities that passed through my studio, and all I learned from them. The word blessed couldn’t put a down payment on the life I lived through most of the 2000s.
I have helped many seniors reestablish their physicality. I have helped dozens of people lose hundreds of pounds. I have assisted many student athletes in expanding their skillset to better prepare for their college sport, and coached bodybuilders – male and female. I have even worked with a few professional athletes, and celebrities. Celebrities, by the way, make crappy clients. Overall though, I could not have hoped for more – and never really did.
rc phone home…
Last week I spent time in my home state of Colorado. I stayed with my mother, attended my niece’s soccer games, and gazed at Long’s Peak for the first time in a while. The first few days of my visit surprised me. This state I had thought about so often, and had begun to miss with an increasing frequency now tugged at my heart, as did my family.
While I was there I helped my mom have a moving sale, made tacos for my nieces and nephew, and enjoyed some good road time with my brother who now lives close by in western Nebraska. I agonized all week as to whether or not I should leave my business behind, and return home to spend time with my family – my mother is now in her mid-80s.
Like a volley from hell, I went back and forth for 10 days; I’m moving home. I’m not moving home. I’m moving home. I’m not moving home. Then, in a moment of clarity as I watched my little dog standing in grass early one morning – the kind of grass that doesn’t grow in California, and with Long’s Peak in the background, I remembered my brother’s words, “If you leap, the net will appear”. Suddenly, my home state fit me like a glove.
At that moment, I decided my mother should have a son nearby, and that my nieces and nephew mean more to me than I realized, and that my brother is still my favorite road trip partner. I decided that, despite the amazing lifestyle my job and surroundings provide me in southern California, and the risk involved with leaving it all behind, it has been a good run, but it’s time to go home.
And that’s where this essay ends – almost. With a single decision to walk away – to leap from a comfortable life, and into the unknown so I can be closer to my family.
I have also made the decision to walk away from fitness training as a career, at least for now. I have no idea how I will earn my keep, or what tomorrow will bring. I only know that my mother will not grow old without family in the neighborhood, that my nieces will see me at their soccer games as I am able, my nephew will have a new movie buddy, and that my brother and I will enjoy some weekend road trips, and camping.
To the many clients who have trusted me with their fitness values through the years, and who have enriched my life by sharing their experiences, and wisdom, I am beyond grateful for all you have given me. I thank you. I appreciate you. I will always remember you. I hope you will understand.
And for those reading this anywhere, who may be facing difficult decisions about your own life – where to go, and what to do – if you leap, the net will appear. Be well. rc
Though my career in fitness may be over, this blog remains. Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Archers Of Loaf. Enjoy…