First, Freak Out
“I want you to imagine the most stressful situation possible” began the consultant who was brought in to teach us tactics of how to de-stress. My mind immediately panned over to answering a slew of emails at 2am, or working on presentations all weekend while the weather was gorgeous outside, never-ending meetings and conference calls, or any multitude of items at my job that millions of over-worked office workers deal with constantly. Add to that the lifestyle of sitting in chairs for extended time periods, staring at computer screens until eyes blur, irregular (or sometimes foregone) eating habits, mounting lack of sleep, and simply not taking care of our own health, increases the magnitude of stress in any situation.
The process, called HeartMath, is used to get you, essentially, to “listen to your heart.” It has been used by emergency responders and SWAT teams to quickly assess and handle extremely intense scenarios which demand instinctual rapid-fire thinking and logical decision making.
Right around the time I felt envisioning current workplace activities had taken me to the brink of a panic attack, the moderator instructed us now to direct our minds to focusing on that which brings us the greatest joy. She recommended picturing loved ones such as spouses or children. As a single male, I had neither. What I did have was iron in the form of barbells. What I did have was a community of people just as excited about becoming strong as I was. What I had was Austin Simply Fit.
I had first found the Austin Simply Fit community when I had made a decision that I wanted to do something good for myself, and good for my health. Before going back to school for my MBA, I had already been a successful and accomplished personal trainer. I wasn’t new to fitness. However, I’m a firm believer that as soon as you think you know-it-all, you understand nothing. One area of health I was by no means an expert in was building true strength. I had previously been skinny, been fat, been lean, been ripped, been tan, but had never been truly STRONG.
My first step was to seek out the industry expert. If I was serious about getting strong, I wanted to work with the best. I wanted to find and learn from a coach that had a history of success with athletes, and would continually challenge me to be better. So I started asking around all my fitness buddies, “Hey, who is the coach in central Texas to work with to get strong?” Multiple voices pointed me in the direction of Mark Rogers.
Capitalizing on social media, I sent Mark a facebook message. When I asked to set up an appointment, he responded by saying “Powerlifting meet Saturday” and sent me the adress. Not only did I appreciate the brevity, but my interest was piqued by attending this event. The next day, I followed the sound of clanging metal into the hotel conference room. The smell of sweat and ammonia caps filled the room while particles of chalk dust and baby powder swirled in the air. Heavy metal played on the PA with the collective chorus of a hollering crowd rising above the music, cheering on each lifter. On the platform, giant mountains of men took turns grunting their way through their attempts. In their hands, was more weight than my feeble mind could even accurately comprehend.
Let’s backtrack… remember that I had already been working in the fitness industry. I knew my way around a weight room. What I quickly found out however, is that these behemoths didn’t train in corporate big-box gyms. No, they were stashed away in private training facilities or garage gyms where they were free to drop as many weights and use as much chalk and chains and bands as their hearts desired. It was like I had found a secret society of Goliaths. This was the society I had subconsciously been searching for since I was a kid, and would stay up late to watch “World’s Strongest Man” on ESPN2. Whatever this new-found world was that I had stumbled onto, I wanted in.
Training With A Crew
That next week, I hired Mark as my trainer and coach. We focused on what I was there for: Learning how to properly Squat, Bench, and Deadlift. Either he thought I was advanced enough, or he was just trying to clear me off his schedule, because after a handful of sessions, he invited me to come train with his crew. I like to tell myself he had enough foresight to see my enormous strength potential.
When I showed up after work to train with Mark and his crew (Jeremy Schraw and Jake Brown), no introductions were made. The guys were already deep into their warm-up routine with music blaring. On the agenda that day was dynamic effort box squats. It would be my first time squatting with additional band resistance. I remember that session moving at a feverish pace as I rushed to load weights for the next lifter before he approached the bar. When it was my turn to squat, my form was picked apart by the crew… a common occurrence that would continue with me until this day. The weight these guys were moving effortlessly was more than I had ever had on my back, and more than I had ever seen done correctly in a commercial gym. 6 total plates on the bar turned to 8 plates and then later 10 plates as the day progressed. And then I learned this was their LIGHT DAY! I kept reminding myself that this was day 1 for me, and these guys had been doing this for years, and to just trust the process. I’m fairly certain that entire training session I never said more than 2 words. Instead, I morphed into a human sponge, attempting to soak up each and every ounce of strength-based wisdom I could.
The Change Up
Ok, so to take us back to the beginning of this story, I was working a job that was high-stress, out of alignment for my goals, and I didn’t have passion for. At the same time, I had found an environment that relieved stress, was in perfect alignment with what I wanted to do and achieve, and that I had great passion for.
Change only takes place when current pain exceeds future uncertainty. This was an important takeaway I had from a dinner with my close friend, author and life coach, Christine Hassler. Let’s break down what this statement means: You either need to have such distaste and disdain for your current situation that any alternative is better, no matter what it looks like… OR… you need to know with picture-perfect clarity what your other options look like. If you don’t have suffering or clarity, why change? I want to expand upon this, so let me use another personal example. When I was in my early 20s I was overweight and unhealthy. However, I was comfortable. I wasn’t so fat and sick that it made me want to make a change, neither did I know much about how to properly eat and train. So my pain was low and my uncertainty was high = NO CHANGE. It wasn’t until a doctor told me I was pre-diabetic (pain increase) that I began to educate myself on effective ways to reduce body fat and build muscle (uncertainty reduction), and therefore, made a lasting change.
Back to our story: I don’t want to paint the picture that I was working in some type of soviet gulag. It was a fine working environment, and a great company, filled with friendly and extraordinarily intelligent humans. It just wasn’t the right place for Lance. In all fairness, if you know me personally, you know I’m 1) a pretty weird guy and 2) won’t stop until I get what I want. So, my “pain” wasn’t unbearable. However, in my mind I had a vision of how great Austin SImply Fit could be. I truly felt it’s potential running through my veins. When I thought about ASF as a business, I saw it through a crystal ball of what was possible. In effect, my uncertainty was almost nil. My pain was moderate and my uncertainty was vanquished, so I knew it was time to make a change.
The Bold Proposal
After one of our training sessions I asked Mark if I could meet with him in his office. I’m not sure of the exact words I used, but in that meeting, I told him I want to run his company. Pretty outrageous thing to say to someone who you’ve only known a few months. However, I knew I was entitled to nothing, so I offered to begin working for him entry level. I knew once I was working, I could contribute, build trust, and work my way up gradually into more and more responsibilities with each success. To my surprise, Mark and his business partner, Krista, both said “yes” and I put in my notice at my job the next day.
Good Things Take Time, Great Things Happen All-at-once
In the span of two years at ASF, I’ve gone from Personal Trainer to Facility Manager to General Manager, and now captaining the ship as Chief Growth Officer. I’ve learned an immeasurable amount from my co-workers, experienced a high-dose of personal growth, and have also started to get strong along the way.
I was speaking to a classroom of college students recently when one of them asked me, how were you able to accomplish this so fast? First off, I did nothing alone. I only really started advancing once I relinquished control and began trusting others. You start by deciding what you value and what you are willing to contribute. Once you know this, seek out the activities and environments that are in alignment with those values and contributions. For me the core value of “We Will Not Accept Mediocrity” was the only thing I needed to hear to be sold on Austin Simply Fit.
The slogan continues to resonate for me, as mentioned before, I can’t stop until I get what I want. And as for being a weird guy, I couldn’t be happier leading a team of fellow strong weirdoes.
About the Author: Lance is Austin Simply Fit’s Chief Growth Officer. Having himself been previously weak, fat, and injured, he is motivated to help you reach your optimal health. Lance currently trains as a competitive powerlifter. Click here to read more about Lance