“Kenny, you’ll have to change everything.”
It was a comment I dismissed at the time though a few days later, limping home in the wind and rain, I realised that my employer was right. Only not in the limited sense that he had meant – in every sense. Briefly, this is my story of how and why I moved from finance to fitness.
I’m what you could call a talented accountant. (No, not a creative one; they’ve got a bad rep.) By talented, what I mean is that I was good at it though it was not where my passion lay. Nevertheless I was an able worker and could handle the legal and administrative aspects as well as the numerical side, chasing numbers. What I did enjoy about that line of work was the managing of processes and of developing talent. I think the coach, the educator was something within me right from the start.
The Happy Accident
One Sunday morning in late November 2010 I turned up to the spinning class at my local gym to find that the instructor was unwell. 16 of us on stationary bikes, warming up. The manageress came in and told us that we could do her aerobics class instead, unless someone wanted to take the class? I looked round the room. I thought to myself, ‘no-one here was planning on aerobics, there’s 15 other people here for spinning.’ So I put my hand up and volunteered to take the class. It was a disaster and triumph. No music, so the manageress gave me a CD to work with. I had no idea what was on it, or how long each song was. I didn’t have a headset, so I had to shout above the music. I left my water on the floor. Two people in the front row left within the first minute. I completely free-styled the class for 45 minutes with no previous education or experience. At the end, the manageress was waiting for me. I can remember her words to me; ‘What did you do in there? You just about killed half of them! But they all loved it!’ A coaching career was born.
Saturday, 31 March 2012, 6:00am. I wake to find I have a dead leg, as if someone has punched me in my right thigh. It strikes me as odd, I hadn’t trained that much earlier in the week. I had felt fine going to bed the previous night. I shrug it off and start about my day, aiming to be at the gym for 7:00am. Only that doesn’t happen, I feel like I’m hungover and it’s well after 10:00am before I arrive. I start to train. Nothing feels right, time seems to have slowed down. I manage three exercises before I leave, knowing there is no point in trying to continue.
The next morning I find I can’t place my right leg onto the ground properly. As if I am doing it in a series of stages. I manage through the day but something’s definitely not right. I hope it will pass, but by the following morning I know I can’t make it to work; the pain has become constant and my ability to move severely compromised. I end up seeing a doctor, I end up on crutches. I end up off work for three weeks, in constant pain. Sleeping for maybe two to three hours a day but not for what seems like more than ten minutes at a time. X-rays on my birthday. (I thought the medical receptionist was going to cry when she realised.) Physiotherapists and chiropractors become my new social group. Everyone has their own opinion, though there is no consensus as to what’s happened to me.
The Coach In Waiting
At this time I was still in an office job. But on the side I had become a fully qualified fitness professional. The manageress at my gym wasn’t about to let up on me; she was keen for me to take the spinning instructor qualification. Only to do so required me to take other fitness based qualifications first. So I did, and I enjoyed them so much I did more. I went to college on Friday evenings and all weekend, studied through the week when time allowed. I passed the anatomy and physiology exams with the highest pass mark achieved at the time of sitting. I enjoyed it all so much it didn’t even feel like work. Yet I never thought I would need this knowledge when sitting across from medical professionals talking about my condition, my illness, my injury. I am so grateful for this knowledge for what I did next was a game-changer.
Everything Must Change
I returned to work. I had the conversation with my employer. His intention was well-meant, (he was referring to the level of intensity I could previously physically train at) as was everyone else’s towards me. I knew in my heart that things couldn’t continue the way they had. If no-one could identify what had so suddenly pulled the quality of my life out from under me then it had to be because there was no one cause. What if it was a culmination of things? What if it was everything? If so, then everything must change.
Turning Adversity Into Opportunity
I took my time over my decision to leave finance. I took a long time to heal, physically and mentally. But through my experience I found myself studying further, going on more courses. Using my annual leave to do so where necessary. In doing so I deepened my knowledge and began to be able to help myself. And another wonderful thing occurred too. I realised the knowledge I was now gaining could help others as well. Whilst I was already a qualified fitness professional I had no wish to do it as a career. Yet now, armed with this knowledge, I couldn’t keep it to myself. I knew from my own treatment and from hearing the stories of others that there seemed to be a gap between the clinical treatment and the gym floor. The trainer doesn’t speak to the therapist and vice versa. I wanted to change that.
A Leap of Faith
In April 2013 I left finance. I didn’t really have any plan. Deciding to resign without one wasn’t an easy step. In doing so though I found myself, in simple conversation, beginning to explain why. Verbalising it, speaking my thoughts, putting them out into the world helped. I had a university place but I decided to turn it down. I wanted to be out in the ‘real world’, applying what I was learning. Playing with it. It wasn’t easy but I persevered. I decided to seek out the best in terms of my continuing fitness education. I travelled extensively to do so. (Learning and travelling are an irresistible mix for me.). I worked with caring, gracious mentors; people whom have helped me become the coach I am today. And during the times in between I worked diligently on becoming an even better coach. I still do, each and every day. And I will always do so.
About You: Can You Turn Your Adversity Into Your Opportunity?
So now you know a little about me. You can find out a bit more on my initial post here. It’ll explain more about my aims in my forthcoming posts. In closing, I would like you to think of any obstacles or adversity you may have or are experiencing. Could you turn these into an opportunity for you? Could you use them to become a better version of you? Could you use them to give something back? Over to you…