Leaving Personal Training

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In late 2006 one of my clients recommended I contact the Cambridge Club. He thought it would be the perfect place for me to build my personal training business. When I began my career as a personal trainer, I worked for another, independent trainer. In retrospect it would’ve been better to start training for a club.

I never heard back from the Cambridge Club. I did hear from the Adelaide Club (part of the same group) and we booked an interview in late December. After a second interview and training assessment, I was offered a position and started on January 8, 2007. Within the first two weeks I gave a large number of initial consultations. From that I built a solid client base in my first year, while maintaining my private clients, who I saw early mornings.

During the summer of 2007 that same client who recommended I contact Cambridge Club, asked me what I was doing with my life. He didn’t think what I was doing was going to bring me success and offered me a job at his company. It was in an industry that I knew nothing about, but he had plans to expand into Germany. His plan was for me to do sales in that country using my knowledge of the language.

His offer came at an opportune time. I was feeling unsuccessful with my personal training business. I had amassmuchial personal debt that was causing a lot of personal stress. I couldn’t seem to turn a profit in my private business, which is why I took a “job” at the Adelaide Club. It seemed like a full-time job with benefits and a regular salary was the right thing to do. But I didn’t want to move into management at the club. So what was my future?

I made the decision to take the job my client offered, and to leave full-time training at the Adelaide Club. I switched to a contractor position so I could still train a few clients evenings and weekends. That was a good decision!

On the first Monday of the new year, 2008, I started my new job. I had a set of new, dressier clothes, thanks to a healthy clothing allowance at Harry Rosen. Wearing Hugo Boss that first day, I settled into my position as executive assistant to the vice president.

My first challenge was my armpits. I was nervous and uncertain about what to expect of the job. I began to sweat profusely from my under arms. The side of my dress shirt was soaked halfway down the side. I wondered if it was because I was wearing an undershirt, something I wasn’t accustomed to. I had to buy an extra strong anti-perspirant from the pharmacist. It was freaky how well it worked. An application every few days and it was as if glue had been applied to my under arms allowing no moisture to escape.

From January to the end of March of that year we had a lot of snow in Toronto. The office was far enough from home that I needed to take the subway. During that period I gained 5 pounds of lean muscle. That was an unexpected bonus!

When I was personal training full-time, I was on my feet for many hours of the day. I was demonstrating exercises to clients. I was moving weights around all day. I rode my bike or walked everywhere. In this new position I worked 9 to 5, sat in a chair for most of the day, and I took public transit to work.

Working at the office I ate exactly the same way as before, cooking my own meals in bulk and making healthy choices. I lifted weights four days per week in the mornings before I went to work. By reducing the amount of calories lost from working as a trainer all day, as well as having a high metabolism, I was able to gain new muscle.

Six months after starting I was told that my position was being reduced to part-time hours due to budget cuts. This wasn’t something that I wanted to hear and I was angry. I asked for a couple more clients at the Adelaide club and was barely able to balance my finances for the rest of the year.

The relationship started to sour between myself and my former client turned my boss. It takes two to dance, but I recognize I was a big part of the problem. I was working on an MLM business from home and recorded a video about work/life freedom and posted it online. It was more of a rant about my current situation and the kind of life I wanted to lead. Some time later my boss decided to look me up online. What I had said in the video almost got me fired, but it was also the impetus that helped me decide to tender my resignation a month later.

I spoke to the Adelaide Club and asked if I could come back full-time, which I did in January 2009. That second half of 2008 way traumatic. I dated a mess of a boyfriend in the latter part of the summer. It wasn’t his fault he was messed up, but my being with him was a reflection of my emotional state at the time.

I felt like the world’s biggest failure. I doubted myself. I questioned everything I had done since leaving a cushy full-time job at Pink Triangle Press in 2004. Why did I make the choice to go out on my own when it only resulted in huge personal debt? Am I cut out for this? Am I good enough? Will I ever make it?

It took work. It took going back to work as a personal trainer to get over my fears, myself, and to begin writing a new story. It took almost leaving personal training for me to realize the parts of it that I loved, and what was missing.

I’m sure it was on an unconscious level that I began reading more about wellness and mindset, and assessing all my skill sets. How could I do more of what I loved? How could I stand apart and be unique in the health and fitness industry? I began to teach more about cooking and opened the website AllAboutMealPlanning.com. That lasted a little over a year before I came up with the concept for EatMoveBe.com, which recently turned four years old.

There will be no leaving now. I needed to leave personal training and experience that loss. I learned that I gave up too soon. This lesson helped me return to the profession and start laying the missing puzzle pieces to create the framework for my ideal business.

It has taken a few years of laying down the various pieces of my business, including fitness, nutrition, cooking, emotional wellbeing, growth mindset, and coaching. I now have the picture completed. It’s like a glorious, pointillist landscape. You need to step back from the picture to fully appreciate all the finer details from a distance. This distance has become my holistic approach. And the more I appreciate how far I have come, the more I continue to grow.

– Darren
The Flex Your Mind Project

Mark Whitehand invited me to play and take part in “The 30 Things About Me Experiment.”

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