I discovered AFS back in March of 2015. I was overweight, unhealthy, and unhappy. In November I actually wrote out “Chapter 1” of the the first 8 months of my story. You can read it here if you want. Basically, I knew something needed to change and I just had this gut feeling that AFS was going to help bring about the change I needed (spoiler alert – it did!). I had no idea just how big that change would end up being and how it would affect my life in more ways than I could have dreamed! I find myself here, 8 months later, writing out “Chapter 2”! Maybe I’ll be back in another 8 months with a “Chapter 3”, who knows? But for now, read on to see what Chapter 2 is all about!
My Teacher Life
Patience. Empathy. Joy. Teamwork. Growth. Empowerment. These are all qualities that made me a great teacher. When I was in high school, I was highly involved in the choir and drama programs, I did Show Choir camps every summer, and I even worked in the theatre department at the local community college! I always seemed to know that music would be my career path. Education was something that naturally followed.
I was accepted into Grand Valley State University as a Music Ed. major in 2001 and graduated with honors after 4 years of classes and a full year student teaching. Immediately after college I was offered a job teaching Kindergarten through 8th grade music. I loved it, especially the little ones. “Kindergarten therapy” as I call it! Kids are so great; they’re funny, loving, forgiving, funny, full of energy… did I mention funny?!?! They absorb so quickly and retain so much, it is truly amazing to watch.
My AFS Life
It was in my 9th year of teaching that I discovered AFS. I loved my kids, but I didn’t love myself. I was overweight, unhealthy, and unhappy. Little by little, AFS helped change that. As I stared losing weight, I started gaining self-confidence. I started to like myself again. The community at AFS is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced outside of my theatre community. They are so supportive, caring, and encouraging. I developed true friendships with these people, and AFS quickly became my second home.
Most people think having summers off is a great perk of teaching. Honestly, it drives me crazy. I like structure, and 10 weeks without it is just too much for me. I knew I would get bored quickly, so I asked Devin (the owner of the Plymouth facility) if I could help out with childcare over the summer months. He said yes, and POOF, I had something to do! I totally didn’t care that I was the oldest person there or that I was answering phones and mopping floors. I was with my friends in an environment that cared about me.
After summer ended, Mike Stack met with me to talk about the growth of the company and the possibilities of me being involved in that growth. I was flattered, but quickly dismissed it. I am a teacher. I have no background in fitness. I don’t even like sports! I was just there during the summer to keep me occupied and have a little fun doing it. Thanks, but no thanks.
In these past 16 months I have lost a significant amount of weight through the programs here. But it was my joy that people started noticing and commenting on. Kelly was back! I started telling just about anyone who would listen about my experiences with AFS. Most often they would see my enthusiasm and politely listen, but I frequently got skeptical looks because people think, “it’s just a gym”. It’s not though, it’s so much more!
I remember sitting down with Devin one day just talking about what makes me happy. My answer can be summed up in one word, “people”. I love getting to know people, figuring out what makes them tick. I find it fascinating that we are all so different and yet so much the same. I love listening to people’s stories and how they process life. Devin helped me realize that I can be truly happy in many careers; education was not my only option.
My New Life
I may have dismissed the possibility of working full time for AFS originally, but the “what ifs” were there. So when Devin called me up, sat me down, and offered me a salaried position with the company, I jumped at the opportunity. As I write this, I’m still in a bit of shock! Never in a million years did I think I would end up working in the fitness industry. But it’s so much more than that! AFS recently released their vision/mission statements and their core values. It was a big deal for them, but it just confirmed what I knew all along. It’s why I feel so at home here. Humility. Empathy. Empowerment. Teamwork. Growth. Joy. That’s AFS. That’s who we are; it’s genuinely what we believe. It’s why I feel so confident leaving behind the only career I know for a field I never thought I’d be in. People, loving people, helping people. It’s why I got into education, it’s why I’m here. And that’s a really happy thing.
I’ve been in this new position for almost 3 weeks now and I love it. I love the learning, the team, and even the challenges. As the Assistant Marketing Director, I get to meet new and prospective clients, tell them what we’re about, spread joy, and inspire people to take that first step. What an awesome responsibility! Thank you so much for reading my story, let me help you write yours!
Schedule a consult with Kelly today!
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