As you know, we like to share our own personal experiences with our readers, so I thought I might share with you why I wrote this blog. It’s because I know first hand how powerful a positive influence can be. At age 19 I was your typical college kid, I may not have had 50lbs to lose, but by no means was I in good shape. Further, I didn’t realize it at the time, but I wasn’t in great mental shape either. I lived day to day looking forward to trivial things like parties or failing miserably at meeting girls (I’ve matured since then). I had no ambition, not even a thought of what I wanted to be or how I was gonna get there. Those things weren’t even on my radar, I was too pre-occupied scraping together 6 bucks for hot-n-ready pizzas and cruising around town video taping my friends doing foolish things.
Just One Workout
I wasn’t looking for it, but one summer day I came into contact with the positive influence that literally set my future (now my present) into motion. I ran into my cousin at a family gathering. You might even know him, it’s Jared, the Fitness Director of AFS in Ann Arbor. I hadn’t seen the guy in about 8 months and he had completely transformed! He was ripped! Considering my low self esteem and negative body image at the time (I was a skinny-fat kid) I was in awe, how did he do this in such a seemingly short time? Was he eating whole chickens? Hurling atlas stones? taking steroids?? When I got the chance I approached him and started firing question after question faster than he could get a word out. His response was short and simple: “Why don’t you just come to the gym with me tomorrow and I’ll show you.”
I admit I was pretty nervous for that first day considering I was 6’4 and my arms and legs were the circumference of a tube of chap stick, but I didn’t want to let Jared down so I went. I still remember my first set of squats; Jared demonstrated proper posture and breathing and I stood back nodding, “this looks pretty simple,” I thought. He put 15lbs on each side of the bar and motioned for me to give it a go. He had been cue-ing me to keep my weight through my heels and as I lowered the weight I abided..Actually I abided a little too well- slowly leaning I lost my balance and began to fall straight backward. Luckily Jared caught the bar and only 30 people saw me fall (there were about 35 in the gym that day and a few were in the locker room 😉 ) . Needless to say I had a lot to learn, but I left that workout feeling great that I didn’t wimp out.
So why is this one workout with my cousin such a big deal? How could 60 mins at the gym have changed my life? Well, because I went back the next day. And the next day. And the next. In fact I’ve gone back every day for the past 10 years (minus rest days of course). Each week I grew stronger, I started eating better, I got more structured with how I planned my days.. It was almost like the exercise was a catalyst for the drive I had been missing. My desire to better myself in the gym carried over into other parts of my life. I thought about my future and started constructing a plan of who I wanted to be. Jared and I would ride to the gym together and we would discuss new training methods, he would talk about his plans of becoming a certified personal trainer, and we fantasized about one day running a gym and helping people find the same passion that we had discovered. We ended up transferring to the same school together back in 2006 (Oakland University). Jared pursued his degree in exercise science while I focused on marketing and communications (he’s more of a science guy than me). It was at OU where one of Jared’s first professors made a good impression on him. He was a relatively young guy named Mike Stack.. A few years later, Jared graduated and took a job with that professor to go work at a new gym he was starting called Applied Fitness Solutions. I googled it and at the time the marketing guy in me wasn’t impressed.. The website was out-dated, the logo looked like a tai chi symbol, and the photos of the facility itself looked like a storage unit. Of course I tabled those thoughts because I didn’t want to burst Jared’s bubble. We said our “goodbye for nows” and went our separate ways.
Fast forward another two years, I was still in Rochester working as a gym manager while I finished up school and Jared was helping Mike get his business off the ground in Ann Arbor. One day I got a call from Jared. He was audibly excited; “This place is starting to blow up, we aren’t even doing any advertising.. people are just referring friends like crazy!” I was intrigued as he described the progress they’d made, but still a little confused on how it all worked. I congratulated Jared and we caught up for a few minutes. Just as our conversation trailed off and I was about to say “so long,” Jared said: “Do you want to come out for a workout and I’ll show you how it all works?” Just like before, I said yes. On my visit I finally met this Mike Stack guy Jared had been telling me about. After Jared and I worked out, Mike took the time to personally show me all of the details Jared had been trying to describe to me over the phone (how AFS manages clients, etc). I was in awe of the potential and all at once I began firing off ideas on what they could do to get more followers and to reach more people. I was hired on as the marketing director of Applied Fitness Solutions 3 weeks later. I was on my way to Ann Arbor to reunite with Jared, the guy who put me on this path in the first place.
Thinking back, it’s mesmerizing to think that I’ve gotten where I am today because I said yes to a workout when I was 19. Sure other things came into play, but that was the spark. Jared was the positive influence I needed to get myself on track. For all of those who attend AFS Ann Arbor and work with Jared either directly on the workout floor or indirectly via his program design I can assure you (as his very first client) that you’re in great hands! Thank you Jared!