Life on the Other Side

As many of you know, I left my marketing job about 2 months ago to pursue a full time career in fitness. To some, this may seem like a pretty risky move. It completely goes against any traditional career path or definition of “success” that has been drilled into most of our brains. And believe me when I say, I’m typically a pretty risk-averse person. Hence why I put off this career move for so many years despite the fact that there was always something in the back of my mind telling me I wouldn’t be happy unless I worked in fitness. But I chose to ignore that nagging thought in an attempt to find a “real” career. I mean after all, I do have student loans to pay. I’d be leaving a steady salary and benefits. Plus, wouldn’t my parents be disappointed to find out that their studious daughter with “so much potential” and an Economics degree from Duke was just going to become a personal trainer?

So I spent two years working in investor relations and two years working in marketing only to find that I was never completely happy. Sure, I went through phases, but I always kind of felt like I was wasting my time. Going through the motions because I felt I had to, and doing enough to get by but never really giving it my all. I could never be that great at my job if I wasn’t passionate about it, no matter how hard I tried. That’s just not me. My heart has to be there. And it wasn’t.

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(I felt that this post was lacking in pictures, so I decided to show you what I’m eating at this moment. Yes, that is a chocolate peanut butter milkshake. If you haven’t had Bareburger yet, I highly recommend you get with the program.)

One day I was browsing Craig’s List (yes, they list jobs there too) for anything fitness related that I might be able to squeeze in outside the hours of 9 and 6. I was fortunate enough to stumble across a listing from the Fhitting Room. I hadn’t heard of it, but I scoured the website and everything seemed very in line with my outlook on fitness. Functional training? Strong is the new skinny? Kettlebells? I could get into this. So I sent in my resume and hoped for the best. Lo and behold, they asked me to come in and take a class! Before I knew it, I had been hired and was co-instructing alongside Eric Salvador (I didn’t realize at the time the amazing learning experience that had just been handed to me with this one), Daury Dross, Ben Wegman and Amanda Butler. All star crew right there, if you ask me.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure at first how I was going to feel about teaching. I knew I loved working out, but would I love helping a room full of people work out? More importantly, would I be good at it? There was definitely an adjustment period. I am a shy person by nature and performing in front of a room is something that is VERY far outside of my comfort zone, so it took me a little while to come out of my shell. Because I have been working out on my own for so long, things like demonstrating, correcting form and programming came somewhat naturally to me. But learning how to own a room and really inspire people, now that takes work! Slowly but surely I started to get the hang of it, and I can now say that I absolutely love it. Yes, it’s exhausting, but it’s so much fun and best of all, it’s rewarding. Especially when you see people who show up consistently starting to get stronger, starting to move better. It’s an awesome feeling to know that you had something to do with that.

Ok, back to my saga. For about 5 months, I was teaching classes, going to work and trying to figure out how to squeeze in my own workouts in between (which usually happened at 5:00am before teaching class). I was so happy to finally be able to fit my passion into my life, that at first I didn’t mind the crazy hours. But after a couple of months, I was starting to burn out. A couple nights with 5 hours or less of sleep, fine. After a third or fourth night, I start to get the old eye twitch. I wasn’t able to focus at work, my workouts were starting to suffer, and I new that I wasn’t going to be able to maintain my schedule much longer. Not to mention that I was teaching on the weekends, which meant my social life was pretty much non existent at this point (although if I’m being honest, it still pretty much is, but I’m ok with that right now).

Finally, after bitching and moaning about wanting to quit my job, I realized what a brat I was being. The situation was completely in my hands and I needed to stop whining and take action. So, I set a date for myself. December 20th. That was going to be my last day of work. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to pay my rent, but something told me that this was the right move and that it would all work out. And believe it or not, things are going great. I’m teaching, training private clients and working some front desk shifts at the Fhitting Room to make ends meet. I’m able to focus completely on building out my career doing something that I love, and that is such a relief. Am I still exhausted all the time? Sure. But it’s a different type of exhausted. It’s not from lack of sleep, but from busting my ass and putting all my energy into what I love each and every day.

For anyone out there who is considering following their passion but is hesitating because of the insecurity or negative stigma that comes along with it, I hope that maybe my story will inspire you. I’m not saying to quit your job right this second, but rather, start finding ways to incorporate your passion into your life, and when the time is right, take the leap. There is always going to be a little risk involved, but keep in mind that the hardest step is the first one. Once you’ve made the decision and decide not to look back, you’ll find a way to make it work. You’ll never regret leaving something that was comfortable, but you will regret not following you heart, especially when it’s too late.

Some Make it Happen

Ok, enough sappy talk for tonight. I’d like to end this post by sharing with you a few (very random) observations that I’ve made since beginning my career in fitness:

1. I don’t remember the last time I put on shorts or pants without an elastic waist band. Or shoes other than sneakers. Or a regular bra for that matter.

2. I’m hungry all the time. And I eat a lot of bacon. And a lot of ice-cream.

3. People assume that I have hours and hours of free time just because I’m not sitting behind a desk. If only this were true.

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4. When I’m not working (or working out), all I really want to do is veg on the couch and decompress.

5. I don’t really consume alcohol anymore. I just can’t afford to be hungover. That being said, I could really go for a margarita right now.

6. I need to be with someone that understands and accepts my lifestyle, which will most likely be someone in the fitness industry.

7. There are always going to be critics out there. And all you can do is try to extract any value that you can from their critique, and then forget they exist and move on.

8. A killer workout can change someone’s entire day.

9. No matter how tired or run down I feel, I’ve learned to find that last ounce of energy and run with it.

10. Mondays are so much better to have off than Sundays.

11. You really can live your dream. It’s not a myth! But it’s up to you to make that happen.

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11 thoughts on “Life on the Other Side

  1. I just read your blog post and I did the exactly same thing you did! Your blog post actually put a smile on my face(Not cause of the burger, but because I was in the same shoes as you). I worked at a bank, I was happy/unhappy at times but it felt like I was going on a slanted road instead of going up. I then realized I rather do what I love to do which was to exercise and compete. I made the change and I’m happy, I feel more alive(even though all I do is workout haha), and I meet great people. This proves that whoever is living a stressful life of working a job they aren’t happy about, should make a change. If the change doesn’t work out then you haven’t tried hard enough.

    Enjoy that burger and keep up the good work!
    -Henry

  2. So happy for you, Hool. This post reminds me a lot of a great one I read about leaving Google (highly suggest you read — https://medium.com/this-happened-to-me/c02f1ff471c6).

    The only thing I’d recommend is (regarding #7) to not forget that those people exist. Share your thoughts, hope that they can grow up, and while you don’t want to live with any grudges, don’t fully close the doors on them either. There’s hope that they turn a corner, and you may feel like a better person for helping them grow. It’s something I’m trying to learn to do right now, so figured I’d share 🙂

  3. Very cool to read this, im about half way through my PT course an loving every second of it my partner an I have a goal an thatz to have our own gym, an we are on the right track to get there, u can get shit done it uust yourself stopping you! thanks for being such an inspiration

  4. Julia, this is INCREDIBLE!!!! I love your journey. You are super inspiring and are changing lives on a daily basis. I’ve personally seen your transformation. It’s something you (…and your parents!) should be incredibly proud of. XOXO, from a converted fan (aka Sweat Pump!)

  5. Nice! You can always have a career; following your passion and making it happen isn’t as easy. I say this after taking the time to do it when I was younger…perhaps I should rethink myself! Good luck. PS great burger photo.

  6. Great post and congratulations for making the leap! I’ve been feeling the itch to make a fitness related career move as well, so it was nice to read this. I’m getting my Crossfit Level 1 certification in March and then will be trying to add coaching to my full advertising work day, so we’ll see where that takes me!

  7. Hi Julia. Could you email me? I wanted to ask you a few questions about setting up personal training sessions for my sister-in-law!

  8. Great post and congratulations! My dream is do what you did… take the leap and QUIT! lol. The day will come. Your post did make me feel more hopeful that one day it will happen.

  9. congrats julia! so happy you finally made the move 🙂

  10. I TOTALLY GET YOU 🙂

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