A Farewell Letter to My Clients

For a few years now, I wasn’t sure this day would ever really come – a day when I stop personal training for a full-time career. Even when it did, I truly believed I would switch to something else in the field, still being involved heavily in fitness. Obviously, things aren’t turning out quite the way I had envisioned them.

For the past seven years of my life, one thing has mattered more than most – helping other individuals. This mostly came through fitness. My days involved sets, reps, and workouts. I spent more time in the gym than I did anywhere else (including my apartment) during this stretch of time. I had some unbelievable experiences. More importantly, I met some absolutely amazing individuals along the way.

Each and every one of you is responsible for changing me in some way or fashion. You’ve each left an imprint on me going forward, and I hope I’ve helped you along in some ways as well.

I hope more than just giving you hard workouts, I taught you something about living a healthy and enjoyable lifestyle. I hope I led you to enjoy exercise and look forward to coming to the gym. My main target with training was to make individuals laugh and smile. I knew that if you laughed, you’d be more likely to come back for more later on in the week.

I never anticipated to leave the fitness field and dive headfirst into digital media. My passion for writing led me to continually wake up earlier and earlier to write while still servicing at least five and at most nine client sessions a day. At some points, I think the only thing that helped me make it through the day was the afternoon double or triple shot of espresso. Now, I’m sure that it wasn’t the coffee but rather the personalities I was fortunate enough to interact with on a daily basis.

We laughed. We fist-pumped on assessment days. You complained. I pressed you to go harder.

Every time I had a client tell me that they looked forward to coming to workout, I knew my job was a success, regardless of what the number on the scale or the pounds on the squat rack said.

It’s come time for me to follow a different path and passion. I’m jumping full-time into the blogging and writing field in Publisher Development at Federated Media. Although this isn’t a writing position, it allows me to combine my passion with networking and building meaningful relationships with my interest in helping others succeed. Hopefully, this career path will be just as rewarding as my time within personal training.

I want to thank each and every one of you for the time that we spent together. As much as I hope I helped to mold and change you, you changed me. I will never forget the unbelievable time I had with the amazing individuals both in Florida and in Colorado.

This isn’t farewell to fitness. I’m going to maintain my certifications and will look to train part-time. I’m always here for help and advice on life and working out. Thank you for all of your effort and perseverance.

Onward and upward.

One Year and Two Days Later

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It’s been exactly one year and two days since I had my first article published online. Jon Goodman, the mastermind behind the Personal Training Development Center, agreed to publish a piece I had initially written for my own blog detailing things I wish I knew heading into a career as a personal trainer.

Oh how time flies.

Since that day, I’ve been fortunate enough to publish 70+ different articles and a few separate blog posts. I’ve seen my name in a bunch of bylines online and helped to build a base of great contributors over at ConFITdent.com. I’ve gathered experience working on podcasts, editing, and doing SEO and social media scheduling.

I’m extremely excited that today, just over a year after my first article went live on the PTDC, I have my first print piece (co-written with Michal Kapral) in Reps! magazine. It’s the first time I’ve ever been able to pick up a print magazine and see my name in a byline. From someone that had never been particularly attracted to writing in the first place, it’s a surreal experience knowing that I’ll be able to read my article while standing in line at a grocery store.

Along with all of the articles and blog posts, one aspect of this past year that has made it all worth the hard work is the relationships I’ve built along the way. It’s pretty incredible that I started this whole writing thing through reading blogs like JC Deen and Jon-Erik Kawamoto. Now, I’ve been able to network with those same individuals and work with them on a variety of projects and pieces. The same people I admired I can now call colleagues.

That’s pretty damn incredible.

With the emergence of the internet, it’s possible to literally meet and work with anyone from anywhere across the globe. To me, that’s been the most eye-opening piece of this entire puzzle.

So, where do we go from here?

It’s been an unbelievable ride. I specifically remember sitting down with my supervisor in January of 2012 during my second year of grad school as we were mapping out goals and aspirations for the upcoming year and beyond. I remember my main objective was to get published.  I didn’t have any idea how it was going to happen, but I wrote down “get published in Men’s Health”.

I don’t have a piece in Men’s Health…yet. But, I have been able to add a ton of pieces to form an extensive portfolio.

After I mapped out the goal of getting published, I had my first opportunity to get my name out there with Greatist.com. Through a link I found on Twitter, I ended up submitting my application materials for a contributing writer spot including two sample articles that I literally exhausted myself over.

I got rejected.

It was a crushing blow at the start of a very long race. When I got the e-mail, I was a bit taken back. Several individuals had read over the articles and assured me that they were awesome, but alas, they just weren’t quite good enough. Not one to be told no, I reapplied. This time, I rewrote the articles with the feedback I had been given.

This time, I got accepted.

Since that moment, it’s been a whirlwind of networking, e-mails, and introductions. I couldn’t be where I am today without the help of the awesome friends I’ve met along the way.

My end goal has been (and will continue to be) to write full-time. I want to go on crazy assignments and write articles about all sorts of different topics and events. For now, my writing is pigeon-holed into fitness because that’s what I know best. But, I’m slowly expanding. I recently had my most popular blog post to date published on Runner’s World. It showcased a very different writing style, and the response I received from everyone was incredible. Look for several more of those to come this year.

I’ll continue to network and build relationships with the top names in the fitness industry. In my opinion, helping others is the best way to help yourself. If everything works out, you’ll continue to see my name in a variety of bylines.

Until then, I hope you pick up a copy of Reps! or at least view the online article here.

Thanks for all of your support!

Why I’m Dropping Personal Training in Favor of Digital Media

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For those that don’t know, I’m on the verge of making a meteoric shift in my career path. I’m going to drop personal training as a full-time career in favor of spending more time facing the computer working in the digital media space. I’m ditching something that I’ve spent my entire life pursuing in favor of a new fling.

The past seven years as a personal trainer have provided some of the most rewarding moments of my entire life. Seeing a client’s eyes glow with pride when they accomplish something unreal has to rank as one of the top feelings in the world. Over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to work with some of the best clients in the world. I’ve witnessed some unbelievable transformations and would like to say that I’ve had a positive impact on numerous lives.

When I transitioned from working within the recreational sports world in an academic setting to the commercial gym environment, I wasn’t sure that I would enjoy the change. The academic setting is largely based on education. The commercial side is dominated by sales, numbers, and trailing averages. There was a very, very steep learning curve.

Over the past eight months at Life Time Fitness, I’ve learned an incredible amount about managing my own business. I’ve also been fortunate to learn from some of the best trainers in the industry. For someone that bases their training on science, it was refreshing to work at a large organization that still finds time to research the best methods for weight-loss and stay on the forefront of cutting-edge techniques.

Digital Media Has Caught My Eye

I started writing almost exactly a year ago. My first published piece went up on the Personal Training Development Center discussing things that I wished I had known heading into a career in the fitness industry. Since that time, I’ve become more and more intrigued by the digital space.

Like fitness and personal training, the internet is constantly changing and evolving. Over the past few months, I’ve become more interested in technology, blogging, writing, and digital design, swapping my usual fitness reads out for the latest tech news popping up on Fast Company. I’ve frequented more websites of web designers like Brian Gardner, Rafal Tomal, and Jason Santa Maria than I have those of strength coaches that used to dominate my RSS reader.

I’ve been drawn deeper into the technology rabbit hole. So, where do we go from here?

I’m swapping out the gym environment for computers and venturing into the world of publishing. I’ll be joining the team over at Lijit (owned by Federated Media) in the Publisher Development role networking with bloggers and writers to promote their content, generate traffic, and help them to ultimately profit from their writing and ideas. It’ll be a huge transition as I know relatively little about the digital space compared to my background in fitness.

I’m sure I’ll have regrets about leaving the fitness industry full-time. I’ll still train on the side, but nothing to the level that I’m at now. I’ve become accustomed to working in a client facing industry where I interact with individuals for most hours of the day. It’ll be hard for a computer to keep up with my energy, enthusiasm, and high-fives especially after my morning cup (or cups) of coffee.

I’ll admit – it’ll be extremely strange walking into work and not being surrounded by sweaty individuals, the clank of machines, and the hum of cardio equipment. For the first time in my life, I’ll have to pay for a gym membership (likely only for a few weeks until I find someone that’s willing to let me train part-time). There will be a transition period. I’ll continue to maintain all of my personal training certifications. I’ll continue to write articles and posts for fitness sites.

It’s not goodbye forever to fitness. It’ll always be a part of who I am. The fitness industry is one of the most personally rewarding jobs on the planet. I’ll be sad to say goodbye for a little while, but I’m looking forward to the adventures that lay ahead.

The Point When You Have to Say No…and How to Say It Better

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I’ll admit – I’m a “yes” kind of guy. It’s not often that I say no to friends, family, or opportunities. Part of my personality and demeanor is to please and help everyone. With that being the case, I often get overloaded with a crazy schedule and lots of tasks on my to-do list in order to make all of the yes’s come to fruition.

The other day, I said no.

Well, back up. I actually said yes at first. I had an opportunity to contribute to a major fitness website, get paid, and likely build some relationships that could serve me continuing business down the road. My first inclination was to go for it. I replied back to the e-mail request right away with a firm “yes”.

About 36 hours later, I recontacted the site to tell them “no”.

Why the change of heart? Mainly, I was going to be put on a time crunch. This particular job required a very short window and involved something that I wasn’t particularly experienced with – video production. After thinking about the week and how I was going to get everything done, I knew that I couldn’t dedicate the time needed to make this a huge success. So, I bailed.

The “no” word is becoming increasingly popular in my vocabulary. Not because I’m a negative person – far from it. I’m just beginning to realize that power of prioritization and taking some time to breathe amongst projects and such.

Over the last few days, I’ve realized that every time you say yes to an item on your to-do list, one of the following happens:

  • You have less time to spend with your family and friends because you’re taking on a new project.
  • Your current projects suffer from lack of quality because you don’t have the appropriate time to dedicate to your thousands of ideas.
  • A few more of your hairs start to turn gray.
  • You get just a few hours less of sleep than previous nights

All of this ultimate turns into burnout and exhaustion.

At the onset of this whole writing thing, I said yes to literally anyone and anything. Want me to write for you? I’m your man. Need a program? I’ll design it. All of this “yes” work wasn’t in vain. Within a few months, I had accomplished quite a bit in terms of getting my name in bylines. Before I knew it, I was writing everyday before heading to work and often times, logging back on to my computer when I came home at night. This wasn’t the worst of all things. I absolutely love being productive, and this period was one of my highest in terms of making shit happen.

But, as all things go when you do them frequently, they started to lose my interest. I started to have writer’s block, which is something that I hadn’t had early on. It was hard for me to dream up topics to write about.

That’s not to say that I don’t write all of the time now. I still put pen or keyboard to paper every day now, likely for a few hours at least. But, I work on a myriad number of different projects. Some blog related, a few articles a week, some editorial work, and a small bit of audio. The variety has kept me entertained and enjoying what I’m doing.

All of this brings me to my point that “no” is inevitably going to be part of your vocabulary at some point whether it’s a business opportunity or your kids that want to buy the whole store of Toys ‘R’ Us whenever they walk by.

But, voicing this negative word doesn’t have to make you come across as a jerk that’s blowing off an event. Believe it or not there are better ways to say “no”.

Saying “No” – The Art of Not Sounding Like a Jerk

1. Evaluate your time. If this isn’t something you can commit to fully and dedicate enough of your resources, it’s in the best interest of both parties to put it on hold or search for a different solution. Explain this to the other individual. You’d love to participate/help out but your current time constraints would prevent you from devoting your full attention to the project.

2. Be honest right away. If you’re going to have to say no later on, it’s easiest just to get it out of the way right now. Don’t give the other partner false hope.

3. Explain why. Although in my opinion, most people won’t really care once you say no, it helps to give a reason why and reassure them that you aren’t just blowing them off for beer and baseball.

4. Develop a network and refer out. This is perhaps the crucial step that either makes or breaks your presentation. Develop a network of individuals that you’re able to refer out for similar services. For instance, in the beginning example, when I replied back to let the individual know I couldn’t tackle the project, I also forwarded along a few names of other individuals that are extremely knowledgeable and have a similar skill set. One of these individuals was able to tackle the project on the short time frame and hence fulfill the void. Have a list of individuals on hand or in your head to refer out.

5. Follow-up. Even though you may not haven been the one to get the job done, it doesn’t hurt to follow-up afterwards. This shows that you genuinely care about the individual or organization, and that you take responsibility for the individuals you recommend. Ask how they did. Explain that you want to make sure the individual you recommended fulfilled expectations. If you’ve built a successful referral network, the individual will be thrilled and you’ll hear nothing but great things. Plus, this helps you to potentially get back on the list for a shot at the next opportunity.

Hate saying no? Have other tips that I didn’t list? Love Toys ‘R’ Us? I’d love to hear it in the comments below. 

Thoughts on Success and Leaving Your Mark on the Cosmos

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Success is a crazy concept. One word can mean something different to each and every person. Some view success in terms of money, cars, clothes, and material items. Others view success as building relationships, networking, and expanding their social influence. Yet another crowd may view success as what you leave behind when you’re gone – what kind of change are you building in the world.

There’s obviously not one correct answer. Success is yours to define, and it’s something that will constantly evolve.

My view of success has changed significantly over time. I remember watching The Apprentice as a kid idolizing the savvy business individuals in suits making high-power decisions concerning huge dollar figures. I remember wanting to walk to work everyday in New York City carrying a briefcase over my shoulder loaded with important documents. Part of me still wants to live that lifestyle for a little while, but the other part of me knows that I likely wouldn’t like it.

Whatever success means to you, here are three ways you can work your way to the top.

Help someone else be awesome.

A few days ago, I found and tweeted out this quote:

We each have a special skill set. Use that expertise to help someone else reach their own goals in life, and you’ll be on your way to the top.

Lately, I’ve been using my position with ConFITdent as a way to reach out to young writers that I think are doing great things in the fitness industry. I’m eager to help them improve, and they are eager to provide some kickass content to ConFITdent. It’s a win-win for everyone. In the end, if I can help to spread their name and get them to the top, I’ve helped to improve the fitness industry.

This has spread into my writing as well. If you have read a few of my latest articles, you’ll always notice that I mention other names in the fitness industry to bolster my arguments with their thoughts and insight. This isn’t by accident. It’s both to enhance the reader experience by providing a different opinion, but also to put the names out there of people that I feel are doing amazing work and deserve to be recognized. It’s helped me to develop some great relationships, but more than that, I hope it’s turned some readers on to some great fitness resources.

Connect other people.

There’s a popular saying that goes something like “your network is your net worth” and I believe that it couldn’t be more true. Your ability to introduce and connect others gives you far more power than money or material objects. In fact, I think knowing key individuals and having a well-connected posse is one of the most important aspects to success.

Surround yourself with successful individuals, but more importantly, use your network to connect others.

Know two people that may get along well and benefit from knowing one another? Introduce them. Building relationships is one of the strongest ways to fortify your own network.

Ask others what you can do for them.

One of the first questions I ask someone when I first meet them is pertaining to how I can help them reach their goals or aspirations. It’s not simply because I want to come off as some selfless and pious saint that’s eager to give everyone else a boost in life while I sell off my TV and live sitting on a cardboard box in a studio apartment. But, it’s an important aspect of friendship and business networking.

If I’m meeting you, I’d like to know where you’re headed. That way, if an opportunity comes up, I can direct it your way.

The only way you can help others is if you know where they are headed in their career and life. Otherwise, opportunities may be wasted.

What’s your view of success and how do you plan to get there? I’d be remise if I didn’t also ask if there was any way I could help you. Is there?

Best Paw Forward

My running partners can be jerks. They don’t laugh at my jokes. They don’t offer any solutions as I hash out my problems during our runs. They’re quiet, subtle, and subdued – except for the occasional panting and pitter-patter of their paws on the concrete. Yes, my running partners are dogs – known as Ryley and Tucker.

I had the opportunity to submit a blog post to Runner’s World about my experience running with my two furry friends. In my opinion, it’s one of the best pieces I had written at that time. You can read the entire post here.

Are We Too Connected? Confessions From an Apple Addict

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Hello. My name is Jeremey, and I’m an addict.

No, I don’t hang out on street corners in the middle of the night with a hoodie over my head ransacking cars and terrorizing strangers on the sidewalk looking for my latest fix. I don’t shudder, scratch, or shake when I’ve been without my vice for a few minutes.

But I am addicted to Apple like many Americans out there.

I’m fortunate (or cursed) to have the full line-up. As I write this, my iPhone is sitting right next time me. My iPad lays to my right with an iPod on top, and I’m typing this up on a MacBook. (I know. I’m missing an Apple TV. Don’t remind me.)

Hanging out in a crowded room with people will make you wonder if there really is any other phone out there than an iPhone. Everyone seems to be tweeting, texting, and instagramming from an Apple product of some sort. They’ve got us good.

Heck even my computer recognizes my addiction. When I go to my homepage on Safari, Apple is listed as one of my top viewed pages – no accident I”m sure. My collection of Apple products doesn’t stop me from wanting more. I tweeted out this a few days ago:

To be fair, I don’t need another laptop. Mine actually works quite well even though I’ve had it for over five years.

This forced me to stop and think – what exactly is so alluring about Apple products? Before I had tested out a MacBook, I would have sworn that I preferred a PC. I never really thought I needed an iPad. Now, a trip to the Apple store seems better than a trip to Disney World. Although they are both packed full of people, the Apple store individuals seem to be less sweaty, and there are fewer crying babies to avoid.

If you asked a marketing guru or a psychologist why we’re addicted to the retina displays and easy navigation, they’d probably mention something about the advertisement, design, and product placement.

In my case, I think it’s the connectivity piece. Once you get one Apple product, they know you’re going to be hooked. It’s hard to have a MacBook and a Droid phone. They purposefully make it hell to sync your music without using iTunes. The next step is to get an iPad because you don’t want to lug your computer around the entire time, but you’d still like the comfort of having all of your apps, music, and documents synced to your precious cloud.

It’s a smart tactic they have going on, but are we too connected?

I’ll be the first one to admit (and my girlfriend will be the first one to confirm) that I’m often found with my nose buried in my phone or on my computer. I’ve walked into walls, chairs, and tables while perusing my Twitter feed rather than paying attention to where my feet were taking me. My friends and most of my family know that it’s often easier to reach me via text or Twitter than phone call.

I’m plugged in throughout the day. When I’m working with clients, I make it a point to leave my phone somewhere out of reach lest I feel the urge to check it during their water breaks.

It’s hard to say the last day I went without checking a digital screen of some sort for e-mails, Facebook updates, or friendly @ mentions.

My love for Apple products ensures that all of these updates are just a few steps away at all times.

This isn’t all bad. Advances in technology have made it extremely easy to keep in touch with our loved ones, but is it time we unplug? Can you go a day without checking your phone or your computer? I’m not sure it’s a challenge I’m willing to accept.

Are you an Apple addict? Have you been sucked into your digital screens? Have you tried to go a day without your phone or computer? Do you hate theme parks? Discuss below.