My Open Letter to 2020
Updated: Jan 4
I must get something off my chest and tell you how I truly feel about our relationship.
On December 31, 2019, I was honestly excited to meet you. You weren't even around yet and you were already famous as the year that promised a "clear vision" or "20/20 vision" for the following twelve months. Although, we felt like you had a bit baggage and didn't think anything of it, you gave us the drive, the motivation, and the inspiration to seize opportunities to achieve their goals and dreams. You didn't have to knock on the door, it was wide open for you.
Our relationship started off so splendidly. You delivered on your promise. My work as a fitness professional was continuing to grow. My name would appear more frequently in community social media groups as a recommendation to posts seeking in-home personal trainers. In an effort to back up my reputation and enhance my knowledge, I enrolled in a Fascia, Movement, and Assessments Course offered by Canfitpro. It felt good having that little coaching level-up. My Tactical Fit group fitness classes were getting busier and continued to see the nurturing of a micro-community out of my home basement studio. The workouts evolved with longer mindful cool-down segments that were welcomed by the members as they felt their resilience tanks fill-up. I was even contemplating on creating a 30-minute version of program for the online space to reach more people. However, I wasn't really forcing myself to open up a time for it. I guess I didn't have enough motivation.
The Mindfully Resilient Podcast was 3 episodes in and had already adopted an international following. I remember starting the podcast because I had applied to be a presenter for the 2020 Canfitpro Conference in Toronto, ON, and I decided to hone my speaking skills through podcasting. I believed it was also an opportunity to intentionally put on that "butt-glue" and develop content that can coach the listeners to discover their own resilience and create opportunities to achieve their goals and realize their dreams. Little did I know how much The Mindfully Resilient Podcast would be needed down the road.
My wife, Suzanne, fitness entrepreneur and "mom-boss," was well underway in the search of a home for The WOMB Vaughan, her new baby. A place where moms and their families can gather in "a space of origin, growth and love. It is an [integrative healthcare and] wholeness centre that nurtures and nourishes families by providing and inspiring community and connection." It's a place that the community needed.
Then, all of sudden, you decided to throw in a wrench into our seemingly awesome relationship. You unpacked your "baggage"and gave us COVID-19, among many other atrocities. I don't know what possessed you to ruin a beautiful thing.
What did we ever do to you?
You unleashed a pandemic that made people sick, that brought death, and locked us down from March to May, then again in November and December. It extended our children's Spring break by 6 months. It prompted authorities to impose restrictions on communities that stifled business, including ours, and even forcing some to shut their doors. I lost business some business and the development of The WOMB Vaughan has been challenged. I'd sit in front of the computer or scroll on my phone aimlessly looking for people seeking personal training, taking away time for what matters most, like sleep or spending time with the kids.
We created the ugliest term in the English language: social distancing. You facilitated the amplification of tension between neighbours within the community.
I have yet to meet my niece in Montreal.
Like, seriously! WTF! You blind-sided us. Not cool, man! I've been fighting to keep my resilience tank full since March and it's emotionally draining.
Despite all of that, however, I must say "Thank you." Had it not been for the chaos you brought upon us leading to the scramble of keeping my business from hanging by a thread, figuring out how to provide for my family, and ensuring I keep my resilience in check, I wouldn't have discovered and experienced so many beautiful opportunities.
First off, I embraced the power and unity of a community. I met and connected with an extremely supportive family of peers through Project H.O.P.E, an international initiative and webinar series, created by my friends Ken and Stephanie Weichert, to bring hope through presentations of testimonies. As a keynote speaker on two occasions, the webinar series gave me the opportunity to fulfill my big hairy audacious goal of being a presenter. I outlined my 5 Principles of Resilience, Resilience Readiness Checklist, and the Resilience Defence Protocol, what have now become the foundations of my resiliency mindset coaching program. It has given me a boost of confidence. It has also offered me new meaningful friendships around the world.
I also had the opportunity to train with Eric The Trainer, Hollywood Physique Expert and all-around awesome guy, who I met a while back at a Canfitpro conference. Because in-person fitness training was restricted pretty much everywhere, fitness professionals were forced to expand their service offerings into the virtual world. Eric started an online, live workout program, known as Morning Glory Live, that ran Mondays through Fridays. I had the chance to not only have Eric as a trainer, but to work out with an amazing community of people from all over, including some amazing celebrity guests.
At a business level, we joined a local BNI (Business Networking International) chapter where the objective is referral networking and members of the group refer each other, if it makes sense. It's made us say "we know someone who can help" quite a bit. A chapter can only have one member of a certain profession; meaning, I'm the only personal trainer in the group, as there can only be one accountant and one real estate agent, for example. I once visited the chapter over a year ago, but the one-payment yearly membership was too high for us to afford. However, due to limited income your mess has caused for many, the organization made available a 3-month payment plan. Suzanne and I seized the sweet deal and joined as CLG Fitness. Since signing up, we've already paid off the membership by gaining new clients through internal referrals.
Through these networking experiences, I made some amazing friends and colleagues. And dare I say, life-long?
Next, Tactical Fit became Tactical Fit Online. An idea, that was just an idea with good intentions, became a reality. By bringing my group workout program into the online space, I made fitness accessible not just locally, but on an international scale as well. I have participants from the US working out with us. It also allowed me to rethink delivery, pricing, and branding strategies, things that required reviewing.
Additionally, it required me to tap into my creativity. People don't necessarily have fitness equipment at home. Therefore, each program is a bodyweight-based workout with the option to amplify with weights. Sometimes, we'll use a beach towel for isometric movements for certain muscle groups. Oh! and I can't forget to mention that each class is different in terms of protocol. However, beyond all of that, Tactical Fit Online has still maintained the essence of a micro-community, where there's no competition, only inspiration.
In October, I hosted a session presented by SGT Ken, Takes Two to Tango®, at the Canfitpro Virtual Conference. This was an experience I can never forget. My role was to introduce Ken and the session, as well relay any questions from the delegates, but technical glitches had me jump in a couple of times to cover for Ken. I guess it was the universe's way of telling me that I'm ready for the next level.
I also took the opportunity to grow professionally through continuing education. DTS Fitness Education, a reputable Canadian fitness education company, was aware that people were financially struggling and offered free webinars and discounted certification courses. I took advantages of the free webinars and even completed a full Kettlebell Coach certification. I finally learned how to properly perform a kettlebell swing.
In December, I had the honour of joining the amazing Lawrence Biscontini (@findLawrence) and 20 other inspiring fitness professionals and influencers from around the world at the #FitnessWorks Global Virtual Town Hall, a 5-hour online event. For 15 minutes, we talked about our holiday traditions, the state of fitness in our geographical regions, how we’ve adapted to this current season of life with the pandemic, resilience, and our favourite holiday treats. I must admit that I was pretty nervous to be in the presence of fitness royalty, but I had an extremely fun time.
Finally, knowing that people needed a dose of hope and resilience during the pandemic, I amped up my podcasting game. I ensured the messages in each episode of The Mindfully Resilient Podcast helped the listeners thrive during the difficult times. I even had some amazing guests, like SGT Ken, Eric The Trainer, Stephanie Weichert, Todd Durkin, and Tricia Silverman, on the show who shared their own wisdom on creating opportunity in the adversity.
These are just some of the highlights I managed to experience during your 10-month tantrum. I've also added a few lessons to my resilience playbook, lessons that will help me rise against challenges.
Shift perspective rather than just looking for positivity. When shifting perspective, our eyes are opened to wonderful opportunities in a sea of calamity… and lockdowns. We see the path before us. We’re able to transform our challenges into our greatest allies. Heck, Yeah!!!
I'm not behind or missing out. I'm simply living a different season of life. In the beginning, I felt I was competing for social media attention with live workouts. I believed I needed to be providing free online workouts. Later on, there was an opportunity to enrol in Todd Durkin's IMPACT Coaching Certification program. The fear of missing out was settling in, but I knew I couldn't afford it. I had other financial priorities. It took me a while to figure out that I needed to prioritize what works for me, not based on what others are doing. For the certification, I realized that the people who I knew signing up were in different stages of life and I'd have other occasions in the future to take the course. I've learned to be more mindful of what I need versus want I want.
If I'm not "productive busy," then I have time for nurturing growth and relationships. If I'm scrolling aimlessly through my computer or phone, then I can afford time to be present with my family, go work out in my home gym, read a good personal development book, meditate, immerse myself in some prayer, or call a friend.
I can let go of my ego and rely on my supportive network of peers. Project H.O.P.E. and the Todd Durkin Get Your Mind Right Book Launch Team have gifted me with circles of people who only want to see you grow and succeed. I've opened up about my depression, how my wheels have been spinning, and the emotional drain I've been experiencing. All I've seen was genuine kindness and help; the desire to be my lighthouse. There's nothing wrong with asking for help. It's something I preach all the time, but to be on the other side is hard.
Be more confident. No matter how many times I feel the imposter syndrome take over, I know people work with me because I'm amazing at what I do. I'm not boasting. I'm just stating the fact that I'm a perpetual student of my craft. No matter how much I know, there's always room to grow further and this translates to enhanced coaching experience for my clients. Did you know that having a black belt in karate doesn't mean you're a master? It means you're a master student. When I see other fitness professionals ahead of me, I remind myself that they have traveled an arduous road to get to where they are. And if someone tries my class and doesn't join, I acknowledge that the class was not for them and it wasn't because of who I am.
So, all this to say, 2020, I HATE YOU! I'm now, officially, cutting ties with you. I am over you. You're now a blip in my rearview mirror. But, I'm grateful for the challenges you dished out that, unintentionally, helped me grow. I'm taking the lessons I picked up during your shit show of a stay and going to thrive and create some amazing impact with 2021. We're going to reach new heights without you. We're already good friends.
P.S. Please book an appointment with your eye doctor. Your vision isn't that clear.
The WOMB Vaughan. (2020). MISSION AND VISION | The WOMB Vaughan. Retrieved from https://www.thewombvaughan.ca/mission-and-vision