In November 2008 I passed my first audition to be a fitness instructor. In December I started teaching group fitness classes for a popular fitness chain all over the Dallas Fort Worth area. A lot had changed since January. I’ve liberated sixty pounds, transitioned into a vegetarian lifestyle, (that’s another blog) and there was no looking back. I had gone from the outside looking in, into the back of the class,all the way front and center in less than a year.
A year earlier I was setting goals to get my health in check. I could not visualize anything for myself, at the time, other than being a mom. I had let myself go and was not too content with my new frumpy mom life. I knew I wanted FEEL better so the goal was simple. LOSE WEIGHT. With the support of my friends, family, and new gym crew I achieved that goal. By January 2009 my lifestyle had done a complete 180.
I did not have much of a work history other than a few high school jobs at the mall and fast food. I got pregnant during my first year of college, dropped out, and became a stay at home mom at twenty. Fitness was my first “real” job that I could truly see a future with.
My friends started coming to me for advice and fitness guidance. My world was revolving around helping others I was having FUN doing it.
I was now a FIT mom! It was all happening really fast. I was thriving in my new instructor gig and hungry to learn more. I started taking every certification training that I could get my hands on! Over the course of that year I completed over fifteen certifications. I was teaching EVERYTHING including dance, weights, kickboxing, water classes, you name it. Of course we did not have iPhones and Instagram then, so unfortunately, there are not a lot of sweaty selfies and sweat sister pictures from this time.
The first dance video I ever uploaded to YouTube...
“All great changes are preceded by chaos.”
Let’s fast forward to Labor Day 2009. I was packing out classes and loving life. I was totally freaking out when the gym management crew popped into my Wednesday night barbell class.
It was rare to see the gym manager, group fitness manager, and regional manager all together in one gym let alone MY class! They came in and presented me with an “elite instructor” award.
WOW! It was all totally unexpected and confirmed that I was on the right track. Planted where I was suppose to be.
Things change fast.
That Friday I the regional manager called. She said I needed to go to the Dallas corporate office on Tuesday but could not tell me what for. Seriously, in my head, I was convinced that I was being awarded some sort of “instructor of the year” award. Did “instructor of the year” even exist? Who know, probably not, but what ELSE COULD it be for? I was CRUSHING it.
Tuesday rolled in, I dolled up, and jumped in the car for the hour drive to corporate. I was in a great mood, a little anxious, but totally prepared with my acceptance speech. Were they trying to surprise me again? Keep me in the dark until I arrived at the party? You know, because every corporate company throws employee parties on Tuesday. (Insert eye roll)
I walk into the corporate office where I’m greeted by Jerry. Jerry escorts me into a empty conference room, shuts the door behind us, and I realize there is no party. Out of curiosity Jerry asks if I know why I’m sitting at corporate. “No sir. I do not.” He goes on to explain that he is with loss prevention, worked several years for law enforcement, and if at any time during our meeting I feel uncomfortable I am welcome to leave.
He proceeds to ask me about training clients outside of my group fitness classes. Apparently, the personal trainer crew had witnessed me working out with FRIENDS in the weight room where they train. In their eyes, I was stealing business, and training clients.
Moving on, Jerry asks me about selling fitness trackers to members through the company website.
I had ordered fitness trackers through the company website for friends. He asks how many. I tell him that I’m not sure, but over the course of several months, I had ordered at least ten to fifteen trackers. I honestly did not know I had done anything wrong. I truly I thought I was helping members and helping the company.
I was wrong. If I had known I was breaking policy I would have NEVER compromised my position. Apparently, members were to only purchase trackers through the member site or through the personal training department. I was about to experience a hard lesson that would forever change my career and opinion toward the corporate world.
Jerry put me on administrative leave and told me not to contact anyone from 24 or step on any 24 property until I heard from my regional manager. I was devastated. Tears poured from my face and I’m pretty sure Jerry felt a little bit sorry for me. I think he knew I genuinely meant well and never intended to break any rules.
I walked to my car, checked my class schedule, and saw that ALL of my classes had been subbed out. I cried the entire way home. I was five minutes from my house when the regional manager called.
“We’re letting you go.”
I felt numb.
I immediately thought of all of the members who might think that I abandoned them. I wanted to say my goodbyes. I wanted to hug the little old ladies in my water classes. I wanted to apologize to the manager. I was finished with a lot of loose ends clueless on what would happen next. I was totally invested and suddenly it was all over.
Wednesday was hard. Word started to spread and my inbox started to explode.
“Where are you!?”
“Why is XYZ subbing your class!?”
“Are you okay?! You’re not on the schedule at ALL this week?”
“What is GOING ON!?”
Word got around that I had been fired and people wanted to know where I was going next.
Next?! I did not want to go ANYWHERE. I was happy where I was! Regardless, my friends wanted to workout. And they wanted to workout with ME.
“Where are we going?”
I was fired on Tuesday. By Friday my sweat sister friends had secured a karate studio for me to use for class. The owner offered free rent until I got my feet off the ground.
What was happening!? I arrived that Friday to a room of about thirty women ready to workout. I instantly felt calm and confident that I was going to be just fine.
I started charging $5 a class and suddenly I was in business.
I knew pretty quickly that getting fired was probably the best thing to happen to me. I would have never left the corporate gym on my own. I had a great opportunity in front of me and knew If I was going to be earning money offering independent services I needed a business name.
In September 2009 Fired Up Fitness was born.
To be continued…