When I first started working at Equinox in 2008 as a floor trainer, I would bring one bag into the city from Long Island on Monday mornings. I would ask my fellow trainer employees who lived close to the gym, “Yo, can I crash on your couch tonight, tomorrow, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday?"
I was determined to get clients in order to become a full-time trainer.
Working as a “floor trainer” meant you got paid minimum wage to walk the gym floor and basically keep the gym clean. You make next to nothing salary wise and you are expected to not train clients during those floor hours. Needless to say, in order to “get off the floor”, you have to hustle and grind your ass off.
So, I made sacrifices.
- I slept in cars.
- On people’s floors.
- I had no idea what my next move was or where my next meal was going to come from.
- I was more stressed than I ever was in my life.
- I was broke and alone.
- I was sleep deprived and constantly sick.
- I got the worst case of staph infection - ever.
To put it simply, it was not a fun time in my life - I was fu*king terrified!!
And I had no idea if I would succeed as a trainer. I knew I could - I just needed to create the opportunity for that success.
Right before I started working at Equinox, I was in college. I went from a four-year safe college campus to the cutthroat working force world in New York City. On top of it, the market just crashed (hello 2008!) and basically, all my friends who also just graduated college, couldn’t find jobs. So most of them lived at home with their parents. This wasn’t an option for me since my mother was an abusive addict and my father was in prison. I also knew I would need to start paying back my student loans shortly. So the pressure was on to make steady money.
I consider the years after college to be one of the toughest times in my life. I missed the structure of college and the comradery of my team. I was more stressed, sick and unhealthy then I had ever been. But I knew I had to make it work.
So I kept pushing. I kept going.
This became my mantra. I thank God for my perspective and perseverance. My inherited ability to adapt, cope with hardship and to never give up on myself.
By sleeping at my co-workers' places nearby, I created more opportunity for myself by being able to take on early morning clients and acquire that "full-time trainer" status at the gym I so desperately needed; thereby making more, steady money and having health insurance (!!!).
Graduating college had been a goal of mine since I was in elementary school, and I was so proud of myself when I did it. No one in my family had gone to college, and I was determined to change that. And I did- (yay!) But I hadn't really thought of the next step after college. I didn’t really think about what I could do with a public health degree once I graduated. Sure, I loved healthcare, learning about diseases, epidemiology, all that good stuff. Loved it! But I didn’t want to go for my masters and work in health administration or become a doctor. I did know that I was a leader by nature, I thrived in a team environment and I knew I could inspire others. While in college I was a Division I XC team captain for our school's cross country running team. I knew there was an opportunity in the city for me and I knew (not to sound cliche) if I could make it there, I could make it anywhere.
I made sacrifices back then. Yes, I was stressed, unhealthy and afraid. But I learned so much. I didn’t have the answers initially and I was uncertain if it would all work out in the end. But I just kept going.
I always had perseverance. I’m still not sure if this is something I was born with or something I learned, but I always knew that I wasn’t a quitter. If I was to go down, I was going to go down knowing I gave it my all. This always rang true in all aspects of my life.
I’m older now, more accomplished and am running my own personal training business. Looking back reminds me that yes, life gets hard and inevitably it will throw us curve balls. Sometimes we have to create opportunities if they don’t exist, just like I did back then. But it was for the greater good of my future. Even at 22 years old, I was able to put it in perspective. Sometimes, we need to be our own shoulder to cry on. Our own biggest fan. Failure does not mean to give up: it just means to try again!
Fail again. Fail better. AND GET THE HECK UP!
I expect many more challenges and hardships to come my way in my life. And you know what? I welcome them! I know with those challenges will come an evolved, wiser, more determined version of myself. I look at obstacles differently from my younger self.
By sharing my story with you; I hope to not only inspire you but also help you realize that failure does not mean to give up. I have failed in life, in my business, in my personal life and even in relationships. But I have learned from those failures. They have made me better and stronger than ever and they have shaped me into the coach and woman I am today. For that, I’m forever grateful.