Let Me Tell You A Story About My Trainer Career
The thing is, I am taking on new clients, but I want to tell you who I am and what I do, so you know why that matters.
I started writing this as though it was going to be an Instagram post, and then when it became too long, I chose to make it into a post for my website.
I want to tell you my story.
In 2016, I went to my first spin class ever. I was in a relationship, I had a full time warehouse job and worked some part time side jobs to make extra money for trips to Las Vegas or Montana or Hawaii. I traveled and partied often. I thought I was set, I figured that was what life was all about.
Later that year, the relationship ended. During that time in my life, I was not the healthiest eater, I drank regularly, and I was not happy with how my body looked or felt. To top it off, I had not owned my baldness yet, and my hair was thinning. Not a happy place mentally or physically.
I was ready to file bankruptcy on my condo because I was stressed with a lot that was happening, neighbours emailing me constantly or banging on my door, foreclosures causing my value to drop, court issues etc. I was emotional with a realtor and was hoping my mortgage broker had a magic solution to make my life easier.
I felt like my world was crashing down.
I was stressed and had just got dumped. I could barely function because I was so anxious about everything in my life. I was self conscious because I didn't know what I did wrong. I needed something.
I made myself go to spin classes alone immediately after the break up. Literally the next day.
I had gone twice before and I knew the positive effect it had on my mind and my body. I knew it would help me numb out the stress and the thoughts in my head and that it would draw the energy necessary to help get my body in better shape.
Like a crazy person, I did it everyday non-stop for at least a solid year. I was riding at least 7 classes a week - sometimes 8. A few months in I added CrossFit to the mix. I would do all those spin classes and throw in about 3 CrossFit classes as well.
It got to a point where I was running myself into a wall doing triples and I was OBSESSED with these group workouts. They felt like my safety blanket. I felt better with how it was transforming my body and mind and I didn't want to go back to that shitty feeling that brought me to the studio alone in the first place.
My body was shutting down. Mentally and physically. I absolutely pushed myself too far, and had no idea what it had done to me until I was falling asleep unexpectedly, having crazy mood swings, getting painful muscle cramps, unable to run, and my hands were shaking.
The thing was I had a deep emotional attachment to exercise that I still have today - it's just I have a greater understanding of what moderation is like and what my capacity for physical activity is. I have a greater understanding of exercise and nutrition which is a big part of what makes a professional so valuable to someone who just wants to get better.
When I was so involved with spin, as I was fighting my demons, I started to meet people in spin classes who are still in my life today.
I started to realize how much meaningful connection and strong friendships meant to me. I am a very loyal person, and some of these people are incredibly important to me.
I've been able to maintain some of those friendships, some of these people are people I call family. These are people who've seen me grow in dramatic ways over the years and have seen my struggles and my triumphs.
Exercise and having a sense of belonging is where all the stress and demons in my head faded away. I felt empowered. I felt like I could punch through walls. I felt untouchable, and confident and like I was worthy of love. I felt like any obstacle was nothing I couldn't handle, and I felt strong in the face of stress.
It was because of that sensation that spin gave me, I initially wanted nothing more than to instruct spin. I had the horse blinders on and that's all I wanted. I just wanted someone to put me on the podium and I'd be set. I had an unhealthy obsession with trying to prove myself for that role.
I had to accept that it wasn't really happening for me in that space and time, so I pursued getting certified for personal training. I talked to other trainers, I asked for advice. I ended up registering for NAIT's PFT program through open studies as well as starting the CanFitPro certification.
Amidst that, I got onboard with YEG Fitness as an account manager and started with them in January 2017.
Shortly after, I had an opportunity to instruct spin. That began in about May 2017, while working full time in a warehouse, doing YEG Fitness work in my downtime, taking NAIT three courses online and slowly going through the steps of completing the CanFItPro certification. I had been enrolled in 3 of the classes from the NAIT PFT program and did quite well, but I honestly couldn't afford to finish off the rest of the program and opted to just carry on with the CanFitPro certification to get some experience in the industry.
Eventually, January 2018, I put in my resignation with my full time job. I leapt. I had interviewed at several gyms leading up to that day, and the over arching theme was that gyms wanted a trainer with experience, and I personally just needed to take a risk on myself.
From late January to about March, I was semi-employed (without full time work) because it was so hard to get a job at a gym that wasn't about selling memberships. To keep a roof over my head as my funds started to run dry, I started working at the bar on weekends.
With the support of industry friends, I was given a chance and got my start at a boutique gym in about March. I had to earn it with a paid internship. During the internship, I had arranged to get my Certified Functional Strength Coach Certification, which was a big tipping point to getting hired.
I left spin instructing in May 2018 to focus on training, and also simplify my life and the logistics. It was getting complicated working for a boutique studio inside a big box gym only to go train clients in another gym across the city.
Amidst this, I started my podcast September 2018. If you go back in the episodes, you can see a lot unfold.
My first gym closed permanently October 2018.
I made the choice to be self employed, primarily because of how much of a struggle it was to get hired in the first place. Bold move but I believed in myself.
I moved to a gym across the city closer to where I lived and began the journey. Still working at the bar on weekends which honestly saved me.
That first transition month, I remember my mom and dad taking me to Costco to buy me groceries. I remember hiding my tears in the back seat because I was so ashamed of myself. I had let them down and my dream wasn't panning out and I was too dependent.
I felt like a failure, and I was going to do whatever it took to prove to them that I could be successful.
As time went on, I started to get a bit busier. In February 2019, I moved my business a few minutes south to Evolve which was also close to my house. It was a bigger facility with a more diverse selection of equipment and I had friends working there.
It was another bold move. Who asks their clients to move twice in 4 months? I do.
From there, I was ready to build up my business. I was going to treat every client like my only client, do as much continuing education as humanly possible and work my ass off.
In May 2019, I basically pooled all my disposable income from Christmas and my Birthday and put it all towards going to the Kansas City Fitness Summit.
I remember going there and basically eating $1 Cheese Burgers and bumming rides from people who later became friends because I couldn't afford to take too many Ubers or Lifts.
It was so worth it.
But I was eating tuna and rice for a few months after that to recover financially.
I want to highlight the role that spin had in my life. I was having a really deep conversation with a trainer friend of mine about the crazy things that we do because of the emotional attachment we have to something.
Remember how exercise had helped me get through my stress and my demons? Amidst my training career at that first gym when I wasn't as busy as I wished I was, was up all night on weekends, and had no social life, I needed that feeling I got from spin back.
So I went to where my friends were to a studio at the opposite end of the city, to be part of their community, and was spending well beyond my means in membership costs and gas just to be there.
That is how much exercises and community meant to me.
So back to the training. As time went on, values shifted, life shifted and I needed to step away from spin altogether. I had led group workouts for the studio and hosted a charity workout in the neighbourhood but I was sinking in my business and I needed to focus on training and training only. I needed to cut back expenses and try to get my business going.
I was getting more clients and having some of my busiest months near the start of 2020. It was looking like it was going to be a really good year.
I was aware that I had sacrificed my social life entirely and had been in a bit of a pit of isolation but I was at a point in my training business where I was ready to start putting myself first.
I went to Canmore for a little rest and relaxation around February 2020. I had been leading a 100 days of pushups challenge and I think some people might even recall how that went into our first lockdown.
March 15, 2020, when the gyms closed, was no doubt a shock to the system. I was planning to host another event with Southgate lululemon, I was going to be speaking about The Lifestyle Chase and giving a talk about connection. It ended up getting cancelled amidst everything going on in the world.
A lot of my clients have since moved to new cities, or they are immunocompromised. A few were growing their families, a couple got injured or went for surgery. So my business took a bit of a hit.
I've always known how to hustle to make ends meet. I create social media posts for a social media company, I consult for podcasts, and I am no stranger to physical labor, but I have to admit, I felt absolutely defeated.
Gyms opened June 15 and I had clients back in the gym again. It felt amazing - I even started with a new client or two, I grew my online training as well.
I was a little nervous about my income amidst all the uncertainty, so I managed to secure a seasonal contract with lululemon GEC for a work from home position. I worked for them from November 15 to January 14. This timed well with the second lockdown on December 13th. Some industry friends contracted me for consulting with their media projects. I offered some group virtual classes.
The thing is, I don't think many people know that side of my career.
They know the highlights. Like these ones. The ones that make me the trainer who I am today.
In 2017, I got to be in a Fitness Magazine for the first time ever. I was in a Reader's story segment where I talked about what fitness did for my life. That was also when my role began as an account manager - my role as an account manager ended as training took over around 2018.
In March 2018, I collaborated with Jordan Jeske to put on the LiddleJeske Brunch Burn. It was a Circuit Workout followed by a Brunch hosted at Central Social Hall (ironically the bar where I worked on weekends). I initially did this to gain experience for the gyms that wanted an experienced trainer. It helped a lot in earning my role at my first gym.
In Summer 2018, I had a home workout article featured in YEG Fitness that was photographed at my first gym I worked at.
July 2018 I hosted the first ever Chris Liddle Goal Crushing Event at Central Social Hall St. Albert. I talked about self awareness, how we see ourselves, how we can reach our full potential and collaborated with about 12 local businesses to provide swag for attendees. The even also included brunch. It was a really cool experience.
In September 2018, I started The Lifestyle Chase Podcast.
October 2018, I became self employed and started using my website www.invigoratetraining.com to brand myself. Long story short, myself and a couple training friends almost decided to open a gym and decided that might be a little too naive and just created a brand together for a few months and I took over the website.
At the end of 2018, I was recognized as one of the Top 5 Community Supporters by YEG Fitness Magazine - an amazing achievement that meant a lot to me just to be nominated.
In January 2019, myself and many other beautiful souls got put on the cover and featured in YEG Fitness Magazine. An amazing experience. Throughout that year, I did a few collaboration workouts at Cyclebar where I led a strength workout after the regularly scheduled spin class.
In March 2019, I led a community workout at Southgate centre in collaboration with my friends at Southgate lululemon.
June 2019, I collaborated with Sarah Lindquist to lead a Strength and Yoga Workout with all proceeds going directly to the Alberta Cancer Foundation. We raised about $600.
In September 2019, I was featured in an article in YEG Fitness about Breaking out in the Fitness Industry.
At the end of 2019, I was recognized as a Top 5 Community Supporter as well as a Top 5 Personal Trainer by YEG Fitness Magazine which I was extremely excited to be nominated for.
During the year 2020, I worked a lot on my fitness business and my development as a trainer. I took part in a 3 month mentorship with Compound Performance, finally completed my Precision Nutrition Certification (it was in the works for 2 years), and went to a tonne of online seminars since travel wasn't possible.
At then end of 2020, I was recognized as a Top 5 Community Supporter and at Top 5 Personal Trainer by YEG Fitness Magazine. Honestly I can't tell you how much that moved me, after what that year had been for me emotionally. The nomination means a lot; truly, and always will regardless of awards night in a week.
There are 161 Episodes of The Lifestyle Chase
At the end of all of this, I just wanted to say. I have worked my ass off to be here, and I will always work my ass off to be here.
I will do everything I can possibly do to take care of anyone who hires me. I am relentless, and I will never quit.
I will continue to work on myself, and I have a deep understanding of what exercise and nutrition can do for someone. I will empower as many people as I can, no matter what it takes.
A lot of fitness professionals have a story. This is mine; and I am still in the midst of writing it. We are just getting started here.
I am taking on new clients.