The Gratitude Experiment

I don’t know how I stumbled on the notion to do this but if you’ve been following my posts on Facebook over the last several weeks, you may already be aware.

I’ve utilized bouts of writing a daily gratitude journal in the past and while I did find it useful, I got away from it some time back.

But I also find myself frequently in position to remind myself how fortunate I am to be connected with all of the people I have been during my life and career. So, I took it upon myself to start this Gratitude Experiment where each day for 30 days I gave my thanks to many of the individuals who have made my life, the way I know it, possible.

I opted to not go the easy route of thanking my immediate family: my wife, my mother, my sons or my father. I do a fair amount of writing about each of them already and I wanted to stretch myself a bit with this project to call out or refresh my gratitude to so many others.

And what did it do for me?

Well, it let me put another piece of positive thoughts out into the world and that always feels really good to me. I love showing my gratitude towards others and it made the process more special to know that no one knew if I would be writing a post about them or not. So, there was an element of surprise in each day. In addition, I just really looked forward to starting my day with a post like that.

Along the way, I got some really nice comments back as well. Not just from those who were mentioned but those who liked the idea of what I was doing and sent a kind word along.

Coincidentally and not on purpose, it just so happens that Day 30 wraps up on a day I typically publish my weekly blog. So, what you’ll find below is all 29 previous days wrapped into one post and the final day 30 at the end.

I hope you enjoy.

A Gratitude Experiment:

***I thought I would take a few moments every day for the next 30 days and express gratitude to people who have in some way, shape or form helped me personally or professionally. I will probably focus more on the professional ones and this will not be a comprehensive list. If you’d like to join me in a similar experiment to help put a little bit more good back into social media, I’d love to see how this experiment has inspired you to show gratitude. There will be no rhyme or reason to which order I post about people. I will be picking at random and due to the nature of some of these relationships some of these thoughts will be lengthier than others.***

Day 1: Jeanne Verser

Several years ago around my second year of business (circa 2010), I taught a free class to a group of students who were transitioning from junior high into high school. I was asked to teach two classes each summer session and did this (I think) three years in a row. Each class was roughly an hour long where I would speak about the importance of a good food plan and then give a short tutorial on a base of exercises for students to perform.

At the time, I had some flyers to hand out with my contact information and a young man by the name of Jack Verser took the flyer home to his mom.

A couple of days later, Jeanne M. Verser called to set up a consultation. Having recovered from an unfortunate incident at a local fitness facility, she wanted to try something different. She and I have trained together in some capacity ever since. Not only that, but I’ve had the pleasure and honor of working with all of her family: Jack, her husband Gregg and their daughter Jamie Verser.

In addition, through knowing the Verser’s, another gentleman was referred to me (Grant M.) I started working with Grant around 2012 and in a similar fashion, got to work with him, his wife Margot Vilim McGimpsey, and their boys Craig McGimpsey and Ian McGimpsey. While the McGimpsey clan has since moved out of state and country, I still work with Grant via online training and every week that you hear my podcast, that’s none other than the guitar work of Ian McGimpsey on my intro track.

Through working with Grant, he referred no fewer than four people to me: Chris Malcuit, Suguna R., Paulette Rudinsky Washko and Walter Horton. It’s amazing how networking works!

This is something of a longer gratitude post to begin. I wanted to highlight and thank Jack for starting this chain of events that has led to many years of great relationships and literally hundreds of training sessions.

Sometimes you never know what can come of a little bit of free time spent and some goodwill extended to offer your services. These families and individuals have been a significant part of our success here.

So, to Jack (and of course everyone referenced here): Thank you. I am sincerely grateful.

Day 2: Eric Cressey

It may have been around 2011, I attended a fitness seminar in Kentucky. One of the speakers that day was Eric Cressey. He put on a great presentation and I was really looking forward to meeting him afterwards. When I did, I asked him about some particular pains I was having in my back and Eric was kind enough to take 5 or so minutes to give me his thoughts.

Over the next couple of years, I think I sent him two separate emails regarding some biomechanic questions about clients I was seeing at the time. He was always very prompt with his responses and gave me just the info I was looking for. There was not a great deal of back and forth, just simply my question, his answer and a short thank you for his time.

So, you can imagine my pleasant surprise when about two years ago, Eric forwarded the correspondence of a woman who was looking for a personal trainer near her home (Hi Randy!) Randy’s son is a personal trainer in the Chicago area and he is also a fan of Cressey’s. So, Randy reached out to him to see what connections he had.

I was (and still am to this day) shocked that Eric remembered where I was located and knew who to connect Randy to. And I can proudly say that Randy is still working with me two years later.

When I had my sights set on moving and expanding RevFit into our largest location to date, Eric was the first person I thought of to give me advice on the situation so I would know if I was getting in over my head or not. I reached out to him to set up the mentor call and we made it happen.

Eric’s guidance and candor with my situation prior to moving was both uplifting and educational. There were a lot of great things that we had accomplished and plenty of things we had left to consider. Having successfully built and expanded his business as well, I knew the insight would be invaluable and I wasn’t wrong.

So, for Day 2 in my Gratitude Experiment, I wanted to thank Eric for not only being available to offer some quick advice on a couple of occasions but for considering our studio as a place he trusted to send business to. When it came time to ask someone if RevFit was truly in a place to expand, he gave me all of the information I needed. So to Eric, Thank You. I am sincerely grateful.

Day 3: Shon Christy

I had been hearing the name Shon Christy for a few months before I happened to run into him at a special needs fundraiser a couple of years ago. All I knew was that he seemed to be a social media whiz and, like me, has a son with special needs. I’m not normally the type of person to just walk up to someone and introduce myself but Shon was someone I had heard great things about and I wanted to make the connection.

Shon became a client and quickly became a friend.

We talked about how my business could be postively affected by some changes in social media strategy. Since I tend to be something of a control freak, I knew there were many things I could do on my own and even though Shon’s specialty was not necessarily in fitness facilities, there were still certain principles that were consistent across the service industry that he had seen work with other clients of his.

My relentless and frequent photo posting was not directly his idea but once Shon saw how big a fan I was of posting client progress pictures, he helped me form some more strategies to have them create as much of an impact as they have.

So, when the time came for me to consider revamping my website, Shon was my go-to. We tinkered around with concepts, aesthetics and feel for several months before the trigger was pulled and the work began. While my website still has some little things that will be added over time, it does capture what we wanted from it.

Most importantly, even after being in business all these years, I have pulled in more new business from my website than ever before. I had honestly relegated myself to assuming my website would never be a significant driver of business for me but at least existed on the web in the event of a Google search. Shon and his team did enough effective behind-the-scenes work on the site to make this a thought of the past.

In the few months that the new website has been up, I have not only covered the original cost of the site but quadrupled it in terms of revenue generated…and we’re barely halfway through 2018. I’d say that was a decision well made.

Shon is a busy guy with a big family, so when he’s here actively training he’s all in. Sometimes life gets in the way but he’s been a faithful friend all of these years and when I was ready to take my business to the next level with his help, he came through a thousand percent.

So for this day of my gratitude experiment, I wanted to thank Shon. For you, I am sincerely grateful.

Day 4: Leigh Peele

It’s no exaggeration that I really like the people who I’ve been fortunate to have on my podcast. Of course, there are always those who you have an instant connection with and those people tend to stick in your mind a bit more when you’re considering the voices you come to learn from and trust.

Early on, I was honored to share an episode with Leigh Peele and it was one of those instant connections. Leigh tends to operate slightly off the grid in the fitness industry, so while she is not as prolific with output as others, when she puts something out into the world it is generally to a very favorable response and she has unequivocally found her tribe.

So, when I had the opportunity to get acclimated to that tribe myself, (Hello Clutch!) I knew I was in the midst of something special. And what I think is one of the special qualities of social media, is you can connect with people all over the globe and find folks of a kindred spirit who are also looking to find their secure footing in this world.

After engaging and interacting with many of those people, Leigh reached out and expressed an interest in learning more about how my business operates. Since Leigh works almost exclusively in the online capacity and I serve clients both face-to-face and online, there were many things we had in common and some unique differences as well.

But Leigh spent more time with me than I think many others would in the same position. I would count Leigh as one of those early adopters in the fitness industry who got in to the boom and made a name for herself long before others knew it was possible to do so. She’s someone I consider to be cream of the crop in an elite group of fitness professionals who, in my opinion, has cemented her status as someone who cares so deeply about the progress of others that she will set aside much of her own valuable time to see them thrive. I can assure you, I am not alone in this sentiment.

Social media can be a funny thing. As I said to Leigh, it’s easy to toil in relative obscurity and not really know who’s paying attention to what you’re doing until they tell you otherwise. So, it was a huge compliment when Leigh not only assured she had been paying attention to the work we’ve been doing at RevFit but apparently we’re making ripples that might be spreading farther than I ever knew.

As Leigh has contributed more and more of her time to watching me grow this RevFit monster bigger and better than ever, I told her “I will find some way to give you the recognition you deserve.” While a little Facebook post showing some love might not be groundbreaking, I do hope those ripples continue to spread.

If you’re a fitness professional who wants someone to take a caring, candid look at how you are presenting your message to the world, you should consider reaching out to Leigh. Your monetary investment in having someone like her coach you closer to the vision you deserve to unveil will reap rewards I can’t possibly put into words. And as I half-jokingly said to Leigh, “I hope I get you so busy with new mentoring opportunities that you text me mad that you can’t take any more on.”

I think every business person needs a “Leigh” in their corner. Someone who thinks beyond the dollar sign and beyond the profit margin. Someone who spends concerted time watching what you do so they can piece together a strategy that has more compassion wrapped into it rather than just something that generates a fatter bank account.

On Day 4 of my gratitude experiment, I wanted to say to Leigh: Thank You. I am sincerely grateful.

Day 5: Kristie Warner

I credit Randy Bright (love you brother!) for being the person who introduced me to Kristie Warner. When she and I met, I was still in my first location in Hudson and Kristie started training with me. As one half of the business owners for Gavin Scott Salon & Spa, Kristie was then and remains to this day one of my team of mentors and friends.

Over the roughly 7 years that she and I have known one another, she has entrusted me with her mom, stepdad, nephew (Alex Lostetter), brother (Brian Shaffer) and one of her sisters (Kelly Shaffer Warner). They have all been clients here and some of them remain. In addition, she has had numerous stylists come through our doors over the years as clients too.

When it was time for my business to make it’s first relocation/expansion, Kristie was the one who knew where to put me: right next door to her salon.

We were in that spot for about 5 years before we made the next big leap, which was the same plaza but on the opposite end and with nearly double the space.

Kristie and I have always had each other’s backs. When you’re in the service industry, there are a lot of parallels. Personal training and hairstyling have more similarities than you can imagine. And since Kristie’s forte has always been of the marketing/administrative/philanthropic type, there is so much I’ve been able to learn from her over the years.

That she continues to support what we do by sending employees and clients from Gavin Scott our way, shows that we must be doing something right over here. But there have been times when we’ve each had to turn to the other and ask “How in the hell am I going to solve this problem?”

And while she and I both can be unerringly honest, the truth, as they say, can hurt.

But we’ve always been able to look each other dead in the face and say “I know you’re coming from a good place when you give me this advice.”

Like a lot of folks I have had the honor of knowing, she’s become like an adopted older sister that I never had so, it’s on Day 5 of my Gratitude Experiment that I say to Kristie, Thank You. I am sincerely grateful.

Day 6: Laura Goodman

When you own a business and you go through all the ups, downs, zigs and zags of growth, relocation, expansion, etc., it stands to reason you’re going to need some financial help along the way.

Laura Beller Goodman was a name I heard early on by other business owners in the area. And to put it bluntly, she was a person to turn to when you needed an asset who could “get sh*t done.”

And I can confidently say, the buzz around town was right.

When it came time to turn to the bank to help with some of the expenses and growing pains of having a thriving small business, Laura has been in many ways the ace up my sleeve.

Aside from being tremendously resourceful, Laura has arguably one of the finest personalities you could ask for. She is kind, caring, and always wants to see you succeed.

Whenever anyone asks me about a banking relationship for their business, there is no hesitation from me: You need to meet Laura Goodman.

About the only thing that could make Laura cooler is if she were a RevFit client, but you know…it will happen when the time is right (wink wink nudge nudge.)🙂

All kidding aside, I can’t speak more highly of her and the staff she surrounds herself with. She has been so helpful to me with her time, her patience and her ability to come through when I’ve needed her over the years.

So on Day 6 of my Gratitude Experiment, I say to Laura: Thank You. I am sincerely grateful.

Day 7: Amanda Montigney

A lot of businesses save and frame the first dollar from their first customer. I can’t remember if I have that first dollar or not but because I don’t do moderation very well, I think I trumped that ritual anyway.

My first client was Amanda Carlin Montigney. She was co-owner of a commercial and residential glass company in the same plaza where I originally started my business. I went around to all of my neighboring businesses to introduce myself and let them know I was opening up a personal training studio.

Amanda kindly said “I’ll be your first client!”

And I remember walking into that glass shop to see a collection of photos of a young woman who I recall telling myself “Wow, she’s really pretty.”

At the time, my first marriage was just a couple of months away from being dissolved. And that young woman I saw the pictures of was also just a few months away from ending a long-term relationship of her own.

We briefly met that summer and it was as quick as a handshake, a hello and a “Hi, I train your mom.”

A mere 5-6 months later, she and I would be going out on our first not-so-much date.

And that same young woman is now my wife.

Clearly, saving and framing my first dollar from my first customer wasn’t really in the cards.

So, this post is really dedicated to my mother-in-law and my first client. Amanda (Mandy), you took a chance on me before anyone else.

You were a constant presence 3x/week for about the first two years of my business. I know it wasn’t your master plan to have me marry your daughter but I owe you a great deal of gratitude on both a professional and personal level.

We have seen each other endure a great deal over the last 9+ years that we have known one another. That’s putting it mildly. 😉

But you gave me two great gifts: my first opportunity to train someone when I opened my doors and your only child’s hand in marriage.

Throughout this gratitude experiment, I won’t be going the obvious route by thanking my parents, my wife or my boys. I do a significant amount of writing about all of them and I didn’t want to be terribly predictable with this experiment to begin with. That is not meant to slight anyone. I love my immediate family more than words can express.

But every day I wake up with many gifts and blessings in the life that I have.

And when it comes to family and how I will express gratitude to them in this experiment, you are one of the handful I extend it to in efforts to say Thank You. I think the best gift I could have reciprocated with was with a grandson (the Biscuit.)

As I conclude Day 7 of my Gratitude Experiment, I say to you Amanda, I am sincerely grateful.

Day 8: Georgie Fear

When I started my podcast, there were two primary goals that I wanted to accomplish: to educate myself better from the wisdom of my guests and to build a platform of information that would inspire others to change.

I think I have succeeded at both.

I knew that I would have to step outside of conventional conversations of mindset, food and exercise and start to tackle some of the really sensitive problems that affect those who are trying to improve their lives. So, I have tackled subjects like depression, abuse and addiction because they are as real as anything else that could be discussed.

Enter: Georgie Fear.

For those who don’t know, Georgie runs One By One Nutrition with a fantastic group of folks who I hold in very high regard. When I invited her on the show for the first time, she and I had shared a bit of dialogue about some things that she had been going through at the time.

I just thought, “Well, if she’s willing to dive down the rabbit hole of depression, I’ll tell my story if she will tell hers.”

And to this day, I am not sure if there is any episode I have recorded that has received more positive response in regards to life-changing conversation.

If you’re looking through the back catalog of my shows, it’s episode 51 and is still one of my most downloaded shows ever.

I believe that it was the candor on both ends for two health professionals to talk about their less than perfect or ideal paths to self-improvement and understanding the best way to navigate adversity to live a more fulfilled life.

Georgie’s own testimony has inspired others to look at their current situation and determine how to change its course for the better.

While I am immensely proud of every episode I’ve released, it would have been this particular episode that I think I could have only dreamed about releasing.

As the saying goes, “It takes two” and Georgie was not only a wonderful guest to share the time with but someone who has the respect of so many in the industry that when she speaks, folks listen.

It would be difficult to not have gratitude towards someone who I’ve had on the show not once but three times in total (all of which were wildly successful episodes) but to say: “Georgie, we changed people’s lives with that one.”

That’s a gift and I give credit to Georgie for helping me put that little gem out into the world.

On Day 8 of my Gratitude Experiment, I say to Georgie: Thank You, I am sincerely grateful.

Day 9: Bruce Cusmano

When I knew I wanted to open a business of my own, I had very few people to turn to for advice. While there are certainly similarities between running a business that sells products versus running a business that sells services, almost every business owner I knew at the time had experience selling products.

Nevertheless, I reached out to my Uncle Bruce because I knew he had been a successful business owner for most, if not all, of my life.

Bruce listened carefully to what I wanted to do with my business and, as I had hoped, he had a wealth of information and insight to offer me.

There were two bits of advice that I recall most clearly. One of which I followed to the “T” and one I should have listened to and made the costly mistake of not doing so.

I’ll start with the advice I didn’t take at the time.

Bruce advised me to look into used equipment as opposed to new. He knew that I would get a far better price on gently used equipment and he would have been correct in that assumption.

However, I was really hellbent on having nice, shiny new equipment ready for my clients the day I opened my doors.

But I paid a hefty price for that quality.

Looking back, if I had been patient and willing to shop around for awhile, I easily could have saved 30-50% on the pieces I ultimately went with if I had just taken his path instead of mine. But, being the stubborn bastard that I am, I wanted the shiny penny. Damn that shiny penny.

If I could give myself the advice (that I might actually listen to), it would have been to buy everything used except for the cardio equipment which takes the biggest beating in the gym and unlike a 45lb weight plate, a treadmill does not hold up over time with the same level of quality.

The bit of advice I did take which was of huge help was this: Start small. You can always expand but you never want to be in the position of getting a place larger than what you can handle and having to downsize. It could send the wrong message to your clientele.

And man, oh man, am I glad I took that advice.

With each move and increase in size, I added another element of more expenses and to some degree, more challenges than I had when I was a smaller one-man show.

It’s amazing that what seemed to be a little piece of advice has served me so well for all of these years. I can’t imagine what life would have been like had RevFit grown any other way.

So on Day 9 of my Gratitude Experiment, I write this message to my Uncle Bruce to say Thank You, I am sincerely grateful.

Day 10: Dr. Robert Ault

Within a matter of months after starting my business, there was a name that kept coming up in conversation with people in town: Dr. Robert Ault.

And if I recall, the remark would go something like this: Have you met Dr. Robert yet? You really should meet him. He’s an amazing doctor.

They couldn’t have been more correct.

Robert (Dr. Ault) is not just an amazing chiropractor but a sports med doctor and truly one of the greatest people I’ve known in the health/wellness industry.

Funny thing, when I first went to his office, contrary to what one might think I didn’t go there initially for back issues. I was actually having some problems with my right arm and right shoulder. So much so, that it was difficult holding my son, Jackson who would have been only a year and a half old at the time.

There’s another story to tell as well.

When I sat down for my initial consultation with Dr. Ault, I said “I keep hearing great things about you but to be honest, I haven’t always heard the best things about chiropractors.” He gave me a slight glance, cracked a bit of a smile and said “That’s funny, I hear the same thing about personal trainers!”

I couldn’t help myself, I laughed my ass off. I knew I was going to like him a lot.

And I do.

I don’t just trust my own body to his care, but my wife, and my clients.

And I have sent all sorts of things his direction: wonky backs, sore wrists, bum elbows, bad knees, you name it. If it has to do with the human body, I have probably sent something he could sort out his way.

And the feedback, with the rarest of exceptions, is exemplary.

One of the greatest gifts of working with a medical professional who I trust is knowing that when I send my clients his way, they will almost undoubtedly improve. He has the patience and understanding to know what he can and cannot treat and if he knows that he is out of his depth to resolve a problem, he always knows the person to refer out to.

I can say without question, that there is no health professional I have entrusted so many people to as I have to him. He has easily been my greatest professional asset as someone to confide in who will always seek the best for my clients.

On Day 10 of my Gratitude Experiment, I say to Robert Thank You for all of the years of exceptional care of my RevFit family and for just being a great friend. I am sincerely grateful.

(P.S. Rest in peace, Bumbles Ault) 

Day 11: Heather Robertson

I had been hosting my podcast for nearly two years when a fellow podcaster named Heather Robertson reached out to have me on her show, Half Size Me.

If you’ve not heard it yet, I highly recommend it for anyone who is on a weight loss journey themselves. It is not only the name of her show but her community where she works with individuals day in and day out to get closer to their weight loss goals in the healthiest manner possible.

But I have to be honest, when Heather asked me to appear on her show, it was going to be my first time in the guest seat as opposed to being the host. You can ask her yourself, I was legitimately nervous.

Heather has been at the podcast game a lot longer than I have and I have learned a lot just from listening to the way she navigates conversations with her guests who are primarily composed of her Half Size Me community members.

What I have continued to love and respect about her is that she walks the talk and teaches her community the staples of maintaining long-term weight loss and body acceptance: a healthy approach to the diet conversation and a focus on resistance training.

So, it was a sincere pleasure to share the time with her on an episode that came out earlier this year. It also, in some ways, paved the way for me to be a guest on some other great shows like Pat Flynn‘s “The Pat Flynn Show”, Rafal Matuszewski‘s “Cut the S#!t, Get Fit” and more recently, Julie Tussey‘s “The Julie Tussey Show.”

But what I found pleasantly suprising, is that little by little I’ve continued to grow my online training clientele by people who heard me on Heather’s show. Here we are, six months down the line from when that episode came out, and I’m still being contacted by new applicants who want the RevFit experience wherever they happen to be located.

In all fairness, Julie Tussey’s show has been a big contributor to that factor as well, and she is the third corner of this triad of people focused on improving the lives of others. Julie just so happens to be a part of the Half Size Me community too and it really does help to have this realistic approach to self-improvement with these two amazing women.

But I credit Heather for seeing something in this strange, skinny bald man to share me with her community. Heather remains a beacon of inspiration and wisdom to the health and wellness community. Someone who has not only succeeded at losing and maintaining an incredible amount of weight but who cuts through the noise and B.S. of an industry unfortunately clouded by it.

So, on Day 11 of my Gratitude Experiment I say to Heather: Thank You, I am sincerely grateful.

Day 12: Christine Gurbis

It’s been said that the best friends are the ones who you can go extended amounts of time not communicating with and then just pick up right where you left off when you reconnect.

I will emphatically say, that’s how I feel about Christine Gurbis.

I have known Crissy (I call her “Gurb”) almost as long as I have been living back in America. For those who don’t know, my family was transferred to Brasil in the early 90’s and we moved back to the states in 1992.

Around that time, Crissy had started dating a friend of mine and that’s how we first connected.

However, we wouldn’t become friends until we both got hired at a now defunct local video store in late 96-early 97.

If you’ve been following my writings for much time, you’ll know that I had a particularly wild and dark period of my life from about 1996-2006. I won’t go into the details here but I will say that Crissy has seen me through virtually all of it.

Sometimes when you go through these periods of life, it’s hard to keep friendships intact along the way. There is just too much collateral damage and I had PLENTY.

But Crissy has been that one constant in my life for over twenty years. In many ways, we’re very much alike. I’ve never known Crissy to hold a grudge and she has always had this uncanny ability to let most of life’s struggles just roll right off of her.

We have seen each other through really hysterical and really traumatic moments of life. There are things that Crissy has gone through that I wouldn’t have wished on my enemies and she just soldiers on despite all of it. That, my friends, is true strength in my book.

Funny story, it was through Crissy that I first met our Amy Francesconi, who if you’ve been following my RevFit posts you will recognize because Amy is kicking all sorts of ass over here. It’s amazing how life works in that regard.

I have always and will always love my friendship with Crissy. even today, there are looks and glances we can give that basically say “Don’t say a word, I already know.”

Life, as always, can have a funny way of interrupting the schedules and social lives of relationships and friendships. So, admittedly, I don’t get to see Crissy as much as I’d like. Between family and work, time is limited but I won’t hang on that excuse for long.

I truly believe that Crissy and I will remain friends until we’re old and gray.

So, on Day 12 of my Gratitude Experiment it’s to say to my longtime friend Crissy, I love you and our friendship and have since the 90’s (damn we’re old!) Thank You, I am sincerely grateful.

Day 13: LaRue Wright

I can tell you, with no hesitation, that RevFit would not exist if it were not without the gift of my grandmother, LaRue Wright.

In 2008, I had been let go from my job and lost both my maternal grandfather and my uncle within two months of each other. My grandmother had to say goodbye to not only her husband but her youngest son.

My grandfather had owned several pieces of rental property in my hometown of Union City, TN and both he and my uncle Joe oversaw the care and maintenance of these properties.

When they passed, my grandmother was left with those properties, something which she had no desire to hold onto. She asked the family if anyone had an interest in taking them.

Here I was: jobless, freshly graduated with a degree in business management, a certification in personal training and a marriage that was headed for dissolution. I had no idea what the hell I was going to do with my circumstances.

It was 2008, the economy was tanking and I thought “Well, the properties are mostly rented, maybe I’ll just go to Union City and try to open up a personal training facility there while taking care of the rental units.”

If you know me at all, you will know that I am not remotely handy. It’s borderline embarrassing. Yet, here I was trying to take care of these rental properties and collect rent each month when it was due.

Because of what was happening with the economy, the bank wouldn’t let me use the properties as collateral to open up a business of my own.

So, I basically did a fire sale and sold all the properties off for a fraction of what they were worth on paper.

I paid off the majority of the debt I had at the time, moved back to Ohio and started RevFit in spring of 2009 with the money that was left over.

When I opened my doors, I was flat broke but I owned all of my equipment outright and just had to build the business the best way I knew how.

None of this would have been possible without the gift of those properties from my grandmother.

To this day, my grandmother symbolizes nearly every great attribute in a person to me. She is strong, she is kind, she has a heart of pure gold and she gave me a gift I could never really repay her for.

When you see what I’ve done with the help of my staff and my clients with this business over 9 years, you see something I did as my only way of showing gratitude to my Gram.

She inadvertently gave me something that has allowed me the possibilities of raising my boys and living a good life with my wife.

I am completely in her debt.

On Day 13 of my Gratitude Experiment, I say to my Gram: I love you, Thank You. I am sincerely grateful.

Day 14: Lee Callaghan

When you start a business, obviously things like finding the right name are important.

But beyond the name, you start to dive into the world of logos and tagline and however in the world you want people to visually know who you are and what you’re about.

Through the rise of social media and the world of blogging, I crossed paths with the very talented Lee Callaghan.

Lee helped me develop my original red arrow logo. What most people commonly see now as just RevFit, was originally the drawn out name of Revolution Fitness & Therapy.

And back then, Lee set up designs and templates around that original logo. I had and have everything from business cards and flyers to tee-shirts, water bottles, and letterheads.

There wasn’t much of anything that Lee didn’t help me put the logo onto so that I could start to build my brand.

And even though the name and the design of the business have slowly morphed into the much easier to say “RevFit” and the designs have changed over time to make printing easier, it all began with Lee.

Lee has now taken his creative talents to the world of designing guitar pedals. And if you’re in the market, you can find his wildly unique and fascinating work at Fuzz Dog’s Pedal Parts.

Lee was there for me at a time when I had next to no budget and no idea what in the world would draw people in to my business if all they had was a logo to go by before they met me.

And every day when I drive into work, I look above our doors and see my signage with that original logo and a banner flag placed prominently in the window with the same.

I’m still very fond of my original logo because it signifies so much to me: how we started, how we evolved and what we try to do for our clients (start a revolution.) 😉

So, to my dear friend Lee who has been with me since the beginning of this journey, I say on Day 14 of my Gratitude Experiment, Thank You. I am sincerely grateful.

Day 15: Nate Mannan

Yesterday, I spoke about my friend Lee and while I’m on the design topic, I have to bring up my friend Nate Mannan.

After Lee made his foray into the world of guitar pedals, I didn’t want to bother him with additional design work when I started writing my book.

Having met Nate through the web and some music based blogs we were all connected through, I had seen some of his design work and I really loved it.

I have always loved clean, simple design and Nate’s work speaks to me on that level.

He agreed to come on board to design the cover for my book, which then transitioned into the thumbnail art for my current podcast, Revolutionary You and my other show that I used to do with my buddy Blake, called Someone Has To Say It.

Suffice to say, I couldn’t be happier with the work that he did.

But there was one little element of both my book and podcast that Nate honed in on that I didn’t give credit to at the time which I think was particularly brilliant.

There are three icons beneath the title of the book and the podcast. Those same three inhabit space beneath our RevFit logo on the wall here at the gym.

And in this order, it’s a brain, a knife/fork and a dumbbell.

Seen another way: it’s mindset, diet, exercise.

And if you know anything about me, my approach to this whole wellness conversation, that’s the order that I believe it all has to be tackled in. Get your mind right, get your food right, get your training right. That’s the overarching solution.

And whether it was intentional or not to place them each in that order, Nate nailed it.

I’m not sure what else I’ll be in need of design work for in the future (although I have an itch for something on my mind) but I will continue to use Nate because of how happy I’ve been with what he’s done.

So, if you’re in the market, send Nate a message. I’m sure he can do a bang up job for you too.

And on Day 15 of my Gratitude Experiment, I say to my longtime bud, Nate: Thank You, I am sincerely grateful.

Day 16: Julie Tussey

I mentioned her the other day, but Julie Tussey deserves a shout out of her own.

Having initially discovered me through Heather Robertson‘s Half Size Me podcast, Julie (who hosts a podcast of her own called The Julie Tussey Show) doubled-back to start listening to my show as well.

We connected so that she could bring me on as guest for her podcast and our working relationship began there.

Unlike Heather, who has successfully lost an amazing amount of weight and now coaches others to do the same, Julie is still on her weight loss journey.

And I think there is much to credit for both sides of that coin.

While there is so much inspiration to glean from someone who has been successful at losing weight and maintaining that loss, there is equal parts inspiration to take from someone who is not only still pushing to get to maintenance weight but is unflinching and honest in her struggles along the way.

Julie proudly discusses all of this and more on her show. I believe it’s why her story resonates with women not only in America but across the globe. Her challenges, obstacles, triumphs and successes speak to every woman who is dealing with peri-menopause, menopause, and every curve ball life has to throw which can derail their weight loss efforts.

And because we’ve found a connection with each other, she has led more women to start online training with me as well. Since Julie and I both subscribe to the belief that you can’t get to where you want to go if you’re not honest with yourself about the struggle, that message continues to sharpen itself to her listeners.

We just wrapped up our third show together yesterday and, as I said to her, I think we’re really starting to find our groove together. As I mentioned on that episode, which is yet to be released, what many people might find fascinating is where our work together has gone at this point.

Thus far, most of our conversations together have little to do with exercise and little to do with the actual diet process. Most of my work with Julie has been on more of a mindset conversation. Since that has been the biggest struggle for her up until us working together, it’s a constant dialogue about where the mind is at and how to keep it focused on the task at hand. I knew that once she was ready, we could start to put exercise and more into the equation but sometimes you just have to cleanse the palette a bit and remove some of the distractions.

Julie has not only been a great client but has become a true friend in this process. It’s been an honor to work with her and to now have this growing community of online clients who not only follow her work but are starting to get a little RevFit in their lives from across the country. I love that “team effort” approach to wellness.

On Day 16 of my Gratitude Experiment, I say to my friend Julie, Thank You. I am sincerely grateful.

Day 17: Cherie and Roger Evans

Every day here at the Rev, I find myself in this unique and fascinating position. I get to watch, learn from and be inspired by my clients day in and day out.

So, over the last few years I’ve recognized the Moms I train on Mother’s Day and the Dads I train on Father’s Day because I find them all truly inspiring.

There is no recognized national holiday (that I know of) for couples aside from Valentine’s Day so while I’m going to target one particular couple in this post for reasons I’ll mention soon, I will also recognize the many other couples I’ve been drawn to as well.

As some of you know, Marissa and I have never had what folks would consider a traditional relationship. The first 16 months of it, she was in Florida and I was here in Ohio. Those 16 months set the stage for what has always been a very unorthodox approach to our bond together.

Then, you throw in our work schedules and what Marissa and I ultimately have is a very concentrated and limited amount of time on a weekly basis to see one another and raise Sebastian.

The adage we’ve carried with us throughout the nearly 9 years of our relationship together is: Focus on the quality of time not the quantity.

So, when I think about the couples that I have had the pleasure of training over the years, I always look to see how they interact, how they raise their children (if they have any), how they treat their own parents and honestly, how are they as role models?

I’m going to pinpoint Roger A. Evans and Cherie Carano Evans specifically for two major reasons aside from what I mentioned above: their proximity in age to Marissa and myself and the age of their children (because it’s close to Jackson’s age.)

Roger and Cherie joined here at the same time. Never mind the fact that they are a ridiculously photogenic couple, they are unfailingly kind, considerate, loving and awe-inspiring.

I see how they treat one another, how they behave with their parents, the lessons they try to impart on their kids and the dynamic they hold here in the studio as they interact with the other clients.

Frankly, people love them.

I will take a slight detour from the Evans to mention the other couples we are currently training who also need to be mentioned in this post for very similar reasons (Mark and Krissy, Pete and Beth, Chris and Beth, John and Matt, Jeanne and Gregg) Having worked with each of you for the time that I have, your commitments to your health and to one another is an ongoing inspiration to me. I try to carry that inspiration into my own marriage every day. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I need to improve.

While making comparisons between couples is both unfair and difficult to emulate, it’s easy to look at others and ask “They seem happy. What do they do to stay happy?”

And so, as I mentioned before, I watch, I learn and I try to pass those lessons into my own marriage so that Marissa and I can have the same happiness as well.

But I give credit to every couple who trains here right now because you’ve made your health a priority and, I believe, it reflects in the positive attributes you bring into the world. From what your friends see to what your children see.

Coming back to Cherie and Roger as I pull this to something of a conclusion, thank you for being not only huge advocates of what we do here but being great advertisements for your experience here and continuing to inspire others in your dedication to one another.

I love the friendships we’ve forged over your time here, and as I always try to say, being a part of what we’re doing at the Rev has a lot more to do with life than just exercise.

So, to all of our RevFit couples, Thank You for being a constant inspiration of love and commitment that Marissa and I can carry into our own home.

And to Cherie and Roger, on Day 17 of my Gratitude Experiment, I say Thank You, I am sincerely grateful.

Day 18: Jack Leenaarts

After my Dad passed in 2011, I didn’t (and sometimes still don’t) know quite where to focus my energy and efforts. My father was in many ways my true north and so I would use his advice and his guidance to help me steer through situations I didn’t have a resolution for.

Thankfully, my Mom has been able to fill in some of those gaps along the way and that’s been helpful. As the woman who was married to him for so many years, she knew a lot about how my Dad would react to situations and could provide advice accordingly.

The other person has been my Uncle Jack.

I am an only child so I can’t speak much on how siblings grow and relate to one another. The fact that my Uncle and my Dad were only separated by a year makes me think they probably had as much in common as they did to differentiate them.

But over the last 7 years since he passed, Uncle Jack has been that periodic voice of wisdom who mirrors much of what my Dad would have said.

Jack has more of an eye for marketing and, like me, an insatiable appetite for reading. Like my father, Jack can retain amazing amounts of information…that is not a gift that I inherited unfortunately!

But Jack has also paid close attention to how I’ve run and operated RevFit since it started. He’s kind enough to take time out of his own busy days and weeks to let me know how things look and occasionally give a bit of advice for things he believes might be advantageous for my clients to experience.

I don’t always reach out for the help of others. Sometimes I am so blinded my own efforts and just trying to stay laser-focused on the results of my clients that it can be hard to step out of my bubble and ask someone with an educated opinion to say “Hey, what do you think about this?”

But Jack has always been unerringly kind and gracious with his time. Not only in checking in on my Mom and I over the years to see how life is going without Dad but just to keep a constant connection of love and support along the way.

I know without hesitation that if I were struggling in any way, Jack would be available at a moment’s notice to offer that same loving advice that my Dad was always so good at.

I guess that’s where it’s appropriate to say, “They were cut from the same cloth.”

This is in no way meant to minimize the love and support I have received from my Aunt Emke (Dad’s sister.) I know that in so many ways, she has always and will always be well-equipped to offer so many of the same great things that my Dad was so loved for.

I think there is that paternal void that I miss so much that where even my Mom can’t fill the gap, Jack is able to assist in a different way.

When I got married to Jackson’s mom, Dad was my best man. It was the obvious choice because true to the term, Dad WAS the best man in my life. So, it stood to reason that when Marissa and I got married, 3 years after Dad’s passing, Jack was my best man.

On Day 18, of my Gratitude Experiment I say to my Uncle Jack, I love you, Thank You. I am sincerely grateful.

Day 19: Ken Klika

I can probably say that every client who has walked through our doors has, in some way, made me think a little outside the box to help them solve a problem.

Whether that comes from dietary preference, history of injury, personality dynamics, etc. I can say that everyone makes me look at situations a little bit differently so that we both have the potential to grow.

When Ken Klika started training with me, we realized very quickly that he had a lot of natural strength. By looking at his frame, he’s basically custom-built for powerlifting. The funny thing is that he spent most of the activity in his life doing more cardiovascular work: running, soccer, etc.

It was on a leisurely run one day when he was leaving home that Ken slipped and broke his foot. I remember getting that text message like it was yesterday.

It’s easy to get discouraged when you no longer have full capacity of your body. I’ve learned over the years with my own injuries that if you are patient and just creative enough, you can keep progressing with your workouts as long as you don’t continue to re-aggravate the injured area.

So, Ken, the trooper that he is, would come in twice a week, crutches in hand and a boot on his foot and he basically let me go after his upper body.

And we did that for many, many weeks.

When he was fully healed, we started to build the lower body work back into the plan.

And Ken has continued to progress in strength ever since that injury.

So, you can imagine my slight surprise when I got a message from Ken a couple of months ago saying “I think I want to compete in a powerlifting meet by time I’m 50.”

Now, if you don’t know much about what we do at RevFit, I can tell you that we do incorporate heavy lifting where we can. It is not for everyone, so not everyone does it. But, we are able to successfully add it to the regimen of men, women, and children with typically favorable results.

However, there is a significant difference between just lifting heavy weight and preparing for a powerlifting meet. But there was no way I was going to tell Ken it was a bad idea. He’s strong, he’s motivated, he’s capable. And I think he will very easily hold his own with any 50+ at a competition.

When I started talking about the possibility of this, the conversation began to attract attention of some other clients. Amanda Ulaszewski and Jessica Ganslein, two sisters in their twenties, expressed a sincere desire to compete as well.

And since then, two other ladies that we train have started setting their eyes on joining the crew as well.

So, because I will do anything I can to not disappoint my clients and have them fully prepared to be confident on a powerlifting platform, I am going to be taking my education once step further as well.

Next month, I’ll be aiming for my certification as USAPL (powerlifting) Coach.

I think it’s these types of scenarios, as I mentioned at the beginning, that propel us to be better. Not just for ourselves with continued education but for one another as trainer to client.

So, as it stands it will be Ken (aka King Klika) and four of these exceptionally motivated and strong young ladies to venture out to our first competition in a little over a year. That’s plenty of time, to get better, stronger, more confident and prepared to dominate.

I thank Ken, in more ways than I have fully expressed in this post, for continuing this journey with me. The road ahead will be no less easy to navigate but we now have a small group who is ready to succeed together.

It’s these types of relationships that you try to look at from the outside in and say “Wow, we’re all going to be vastly different people on this road together.”

So, I am taking this day to thank Ken not only for the time and effort he’s put into himself but for putting me in position to better myself as well. It was his initial motivation that has and will lead us to greater things together.

I think that makes for a very special relationship.

So on Day 19 of my Gratitude Experiment I say to Ken, Thank You. I am sincerely grateful.

Day 20: Gillian McKnight-Tutein

Have you ever read one of those pieces of advice that tells you to periodically call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while and tell them they have been on your mind?

One person who always comes to mind when I see something like that is Gillian McKnight-Tutein (Dr. Gee)

We first met through Robert Ault many years ago when I was still in my first location in Hudson.

Dr. Gee started training with me shortly thereafter and there was a time we spent working together that I hope to never forget.

At the time, Dr. Gee was at a place with her body weight where her back pain was frequent and exercise was excruciating.

This may seem strange to people who’ve only come to know me recently and follow the work that we do today but I remember just going for a walk with her back then.

She could barely walk an entire block without being doubled over in pain and fatigue.

A few months later, she could walk a mile…

Sadly, Dr. Gee and her lovely wife Reg moved away.

But I have had some of the most enlightening, profound and inspirational conversations of my life with this radiant and wonderful woman.

And as I alluded in a previous post regarding my marriage and the life I enjoy with my wife, sometimes it isn’t about the quantity of time but the quality.

Dr. Gee is someone I can go spans of time not connecting with and then pick up a phone, talk for twenty minutes and feel like we’ve covered years of time together.

Some time back, she asked me a favor I have still not found I deserved to be asked.

She was assembling a group of friends, almost like a committee of people she could turn to when she needed certain areas of her life improved on. She kindly asked if I would be part of that group.

Maybe it’s my own level of self-deprecation that I don’t always feel like an expert in much of anything. I learn what I can, I teach what I can, and then I rinse and repeat that process over and over.

Dr. Gee is light years beyond me in intelligence. She is someone who, even from a distance, I wonder would approve of how I handle certain situations. She has become, possibly unbeknownst to her, a guidepost of wisdom who I will look to from time to time (and never often enough) to ask “Am I doing this right?”

And like any great friend, she will reach out to me sometimes and say just those certain words that can get me teary-eyed and emotional at the drop of a hat.

Like when she connected with me a few months ago to say “I’m really proud of all you’ve done. You are a building a legacy for those boys.”

Because, I guess in my mind, if I don’t leave something of note and integrity for my sons to remember their Dad by, I will not have fulfilled my role as a proper father to them

Lessons my own father taught me. Lessons Dr. Gee will not allow me to forget.

So, when I get that inkling of a reminder, I will pick up my phone, dial her number and if all I get is 10 seconds to say it, I say “Hey buddy, I just called to tell you I miss you and I love you.”

And I can feel and see that smile of hers across the country come beaming through the phone.

I think everyone needs someone like her in their lives. If you don’t have someone like that, find them, cherish them, remind them of their importance in your life.

On Day 20, of my Gratitude Experiment I say to my dear friend Dr. Gee, Thank You. I am sincerely grateful.

Day 21: Mike Battershell

There’s a question I get with a fair amount of frequency when I work with clients:

Who’s been here the longest?

And the answer has remained the same: Mike Battershell

Mike and I originally met in a local networking group when I was still basically in infancy as a business. This particular group would meet once a week and it was comprised of several representatives of businesses or business owners who were looking for a place to share referrals.

At the time, Mike had been given a diagnosis by a local doctor who encouraged him to start making some diet and lifestyle changes.

Around the time that he started, I had attended a nutrition seminar in the area where the presenter offered some dietary interventions that could assist with what Mike had been working to solve.

Not being a dietitian, I can’t prescribe diets by law but I asked Mike what he thought about trying the diet out to see if any changes took place. Upon recollection, that diet would have been approximately 40% fat, 40% protein and 20% carb.

He was game to experiment with it and it worked like a charm. He dropped fat mass at a steady level, reversed all of the markers that he previously started with and got in really fantastic shape.

Since then, taking a similar individual, I’ve learned that the breakdown mentioned above was less the predictor of success and more that we found a diet plan he could stick to long enough to drop the weight and change the numbers his doctor wanted to see.

And Mike has continued to train with me for nearly 9 years in a business that has been open for going on 10.

Mike is a computer repair whiz and has serviced all of my needs in that regard in the time we’ve known each other as well as my family’s needs and many of my clients.

While I’m certain Mike has evolved the way he’s done his own business, I can’t begin to express all the changes he has seen me go through as a business owner either. From our humble beginnings in Hudson, to our attempt at a second location, the closing of that business and the combination/expansion of both to move into Stow and yet again when we expanded before Thanksgiving last year into where we are today.

As the adage goes in the fitness industry: evolve or die.

And evolve we basically have.

Mike has been there as a constant: a support, and a friend every step of the way since we started. He has been there to see me make every successful and every failing step that it takes to build a business we could all be proud to be a part of.

I can’t overestimate the patience it takes on behalf of the client to endure change the way we have at RevFit. From the change in dynamics of clientele, to the environmental and aesthetic changes of a new studio, it says a lot about an individual to say: Wherever you are, I’ll be there too.

Mike is held in good company by some others who will likely get mention in my gratitude experiment but for today, this post is just about him: my longest standing client and someone I have always been happy to have within a trusted circle of friends. I love you, brother.

On Day 21 of my Gratitude Experiment, I say to Mike, Thank You. I am sincerely grateful.

Day 22: Keith Blain

Within my first few months of business, I had connected with a gentleman who (at the time) was a business growth coach.

There was a piece of advice he gave me way back then that I would argue has changed the way I look at my business more than anything else.

Keith Blain had invited me to attend a seminar with a small group of other business professionals who were in a similar position to myself.

And I’ll paraphrase the advice because time is only so kind to my memory:

“If something fails in your business, it’s YOUR fault.”

My knee-jerk reaction to this was immediate disagreement. In my mind, there were too many variables that could determine whether or not I succeeded with this business.

One of which, very simply, was the fact that personal training essentially lives and breathes by the results of the clients. So, if a client didn’t follow their diet and didn’t lose weight, that’s the fault of the client, right?

Wrong.

Or at least, that was the perspective Keith wanted us to view things from.

Looked at differently, if a client didn’t follow their diet and didn’t lose weight, it was because I failed them in teaching a better and more effective way.

Granted, the “personal” part of personal training can mean that sometimes the client/trainer relationship is not a great fit. Assuming to be one size fits all is already a foundation for failure.

But we live in a world where it’s so easy to point a finger at others and not take responsibility for things we have control over that Keith’s bit of advice has changed me not only professionally but personally as well.

It is far easier for me to take a self-critical look when things get tough and say “Jason, this is your fault it ended this way.” And then determine the path it takes to fix it.

I don’t always self-correct as quickly as I’d like but putting the onus on myself instead of becoming negative and critical of others has been pivotal for me.

It also keeps me in a constant state of learning. I know I’ll never have all the answers and I know I won’t overcome every client’s obstacles. But the advice Keith gave me all those years ago planted itself so firmly in my mind, that I have to believe it has been another reason for our success.

Keith might have been one of my first four or five clients. Time and business have changed tremendously since then. I know Keith doesn’t hop on Facebook very much so I don’t know when he’ll see this.

For the rest of you, especially those who’ve taken the time to read these posts every day, maybe Keith’s advice to me can help you too.

On Day 22 of my Gratitude Experiment, I say to Keith: Thank You. I am sincerely grateful.

Day 23: Corey Verchio

Over the years that I’ve spent trying to build the right kind of business, something that continues to evolve and morph over time, I’ve somehow managed to build a brand.

And if you’ve been reading these posts so far, I’ve tipped my hat to many of the people who’ve made that a possibility and a reality.

Another ace up my sleeve over the last several years has been Corey Verchio.

When I first approached him regarding the customizing of shirts for the business, I had no idea how important that relationship would become.

Corey (and staff) designed the RevFit the way you see it today. We shifted away from the original logo to make something simpler to design and more cost-effective to print since the original logo has three colors and far more going on visually than our simple font that you see on the shirts (and on our wall-Thanks Katie!) now.

What began as the apparel we wear as staff with our last names on the back has turned into my personalized gift to new clients welcoming them on board and as a gift to my podcast guests for taking time to chat with me on the show.

I’ve even sent shirts across the globe to people who have gone above and beyond to support my clients, share episodes of the podcast or just for being great people.

As a result, and thanks to social media, the Rev keeps popping up all over the place.

Corey has been patient and flexible with me every step of the way. Since the majority of the shirts I order get personalized and I’m ordering at such a frequent pace, I’m bouncing in and out of his shop sometimes multiple times a week to pick up orders.

But to me, it’s worth it.

Little by little, that logo has hit Australia, Japan, Canada, Europe, and damn near every state in the continental U.S. I’ve seen my buddies Yoni Freedhoffand James Fell at the clinic getting bloodwork rocking their Rev gear, people like Coach Scott AbelSumi SinghJames KriegerPatrick Umphrey and Ross Leppala putting in some sweat equity in their shirts (which I would love to think is helping each of them set new personal records) Spencer Nadolskyis sporting his frequently while he’s on Daddy duty with that beautiful daughter of his and Jenna’s. The list goes on.

And of course, there have been the variations to our logo like the “Squat Because No One Raps About Little Butts” with the RevFit centered below it (Thanks Cherie!) and the brand new limited edition RevFit pride tees which were ridiculously popular.

It’s all been little steps with myriad other points of reference over the years to help us build and cement a platform to say “We can help you improve.” Or, as I’ve become more attached to saying “We Make Great People Greater.”

And it’s due to Corey’s simple but effective design, the perfect pick for arguably the most comfortable workout shirt on the planet and literally hundreds of people in the world who wear theirs. You never realize the ripples you make until you see something you’ve been a part of pop up the way we’ve seen. All this from just a shirt.

So, to everyone who proudly rocks their Rev whenever and however they do, Thank You for spreading the RevFit word.

And to my buddy Corey, thanks for all the years of great service to me and my business. It has not and will not go unnoticed.

On Day 23 of my Gratitude Experiment, I say to Corey, Thank You, I am sincerely grateful.

Day 24: Brandon Huth

Like Mike Battershell, who I referenced in a separate post a couple of days ago, I met Brandon Huth in the same networking group many years ago.

Brandon’s business offering was in credit card processing and I really liked my conversations with him so I wanted to give him my business. At the time, I was using another company and the up-front cost was more than I was ready to pay at the time.

Brandon was extremely patient and understanding and left his offer on the table for when I was ready to proceed. So, when the company I had been using had a rather large and unacceptable hiccup in services, it opened the door for me to move forward with Brandon.

He is now the ONLY person I recommend for similar services to my business owner friends. Yes, there may be an upfront cost for these things but almost without fail, Brandon’s offerings end up saving a merchant more money in the long run (Sorry Square and Paypal) 😉

But beyond our business affiliation, Brandon has been a client of mine almost as long as Mike has and has become a great friend too.

Brandon, as I’ve half-joked over the years, was essentially the gateway client to usher in many of our most awesome folks to date into the Rev like: Matthew KajderJohn F. GarofaloMatt MeltonChristopher MunteanDan TysonRick Charles, and Brandon Vansil

And yet again, this is not only the beauty of networking from a business perspective but the fostering of friendships and relationships within our community here. For those who are already here, they know what these great men have brought to the Rev in terms of support, camaraderie and brotherhood.

I’ve always tried to make it known how much long-standing clients become more like family than friends and it’s relationships like these which are the proof in the pudding.

For those in the fitness industry who know the reference, Steven Michael Ledbetter (aka Coach Stevo) mentioned once how pivotal it can be for a fitness business to embrace the members of the LGBTQ community and I can’t agree more. We always have, we always will and we’ve always thrived as a result of doing so.

So, while I will continue to see guys like the aforementioned as siblings I never had, I thank Brandon for being not only the walking advertisement for RevFit but essentially the guiding voice to say: I trust my health to this place and others should too.

That is a wonderful experience to share.

On Day 24 of my Gratitude Experiment, I say to my friend and brother Brandon Huth (and every name mentioned above), love you crazy animals.Thank You. I am sincerely grateful.

Day 25: Tatsyana Havel

When you run a business, you may come across literature that discusses the importance of ambassadors for what you do. Another term I’ve heard frequently would be something like a “raving fan.”

Put simply, you want as many people as you can find who not only will share the word of their experience working with you to others but you want it from people whose opinion carries some weight.

When I first met Tatsyana Pruszynski Havel, I had no idea she would become one of those RevFit “ambassadors.”

We met initially through a local special needs fundraiser and she had previously won a gift certificate to the studio in a raffle.

Normally, when I donate sessions to fundraisers, it’s a bit of a crapshoot. Sometimes the winners redeem their sessions and sometimes they don’t. And if memory serves, I think Tatsyana may have turned out to be one of the latter if we hadn’t actually met in person as well.

Due to the relationship of mutual friends, my Mom, Jackson and myself were at a get-together where Tatsyana was as well and we were able to finally connect. When she mentioned that she had a gift certificate to the studio, I think her initial concern was that it may have already expired and she wouldn’t be able to use it.

I’ve never been the type to let gift certificates expire so I put her concerns at ease and told her I’d be happy to work with her when it worked best for her schedule.

So, before she stepped foot into the studio, she started focusing on her diet plan. By time we set up our first consultation, she was already down in weight.

Tatsyana, to me, signifies a kind of person (I find typically maternal in role) who spends their life giving, giving and giving only to find they’ve forgotten how to give to themselves in return. As a result, health and well-being can take a backseat in priorities.

And like a lot of people in that position who can relate to that, it’s tough to justify that taking care of one’s self should be a priority too.

Or the way we tend to ask it in the health and wellness community is: How can you give your best to others if you haven’t given your best to yourself? Sometimes also phrased as “How can you love others if you don’t love yourself?”

But Tatsyana became not only one of those raving fans of RevFit by her verbal testimony but a physical testimony as well. She dropped a fantastic amount of weight in a relatively short time and she really blew us up. Almost every opportunity she got was a moment to tell others, THIS is the the place you need to train.

Now, I’ve had some really great raving fans over the years and I still do. But Tatsyana has a way of swelling an ego. And I think more businesses, or should I say, more people in life need a raving fan like that in theirs.

For as long as I’ve known her, Tatsyana puts a lot of weight on her shoulders. It is, I believe, how she thrives. If we did anything at all positive in her life, it was to give her hope, strength and belief that she deserved to put the same focus into her life that she put into others.

She’s raised a tremendous family, both biological and foster children, and continues to persevere no matter what life throws her way. That, to me, is an inspiration. Not just for other women who can relate but to anyone who hopes to better themselves.

As you’ve no doubt heard me describe in previous posts, she’s become something of an adopted sibling to me along the way because as I’m fond of saying, what we try to do at the Rev is remind people that there’s more to this relationship than just diet and exercise. There’s a life to live, stories to tell, and obstacles to conquer.

If you are a business owner, you need ambassadors like Tatsyana who can stand on that imaginary street corner with that imaginary megaphone (also known as Facebook!) and not only raise attention to what you do but be the “poster child” for progress as she has been for us.

So on Day 25 of my Gratitude Experiment, I say to my friend Tatsyana, Thank You. I am sincerely grateful.

Day 26: Dr. James Jones

Like most of my graduating class, I went to college right out of high school. My first two years were spent at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. However, due to a lot of the circumstances going on in my life circa 1996, I dropped out just after I started my junior year.

I tried going back to college (Tennessee Tech) in 1998 but I still had not sorted a lot of my own personal drama out so I dropped out again.

It would be several years before I would be in a good headspace to try and tackle college once more.

When I did, at least from a grade standpoint, it was the right move to make. I wrapped up an Associate’s Degree from Nashville State and when I was transferred to South Carolina, I transitioned my credits over to Charleston Southern University and graduated (finally) in 2008 with a Bachelor’s in Business Management.

There are a handful of teachers/professors who I look back on that I believe were major guiding forces for me at certain points of my life.

And at Charleston Southern, I was in one of those “certain points” where I needed a guiding force more than I realized.

Dr. James Jones was both a guidance counselor to me and one of my professors. Little did I know at the time, that his ability to see something of promise in me when I saw so little in myself would be coming at such a pivotal point.

My professional career was about to stall (this was pre-RevFit days) and my marriage to Jackson’s mom was on the rocks as well. Suffice to say, things were not terribly optimistic for me. Dr. Jones was able to help me navigate through what he saw as relative strengths in character and performance that, unbeknownst to me at the time, would continue to shape my life and career.

I spent a great deal of time sitting in his office just trying to keep clutching to whatever strands of hope I could hold onto at the time. Dr. Jones’s faith in me was far stronger that I had of my own merit.

So, as something of a father figure to me over the last 12 years, he has watched me go through a lot of changes as I have undoubtedly seen him through as well. And every so often, he’s dropped a line to say how proud he is of how far I’ve come.

You can imagine my delight when he reached out one day to say “Hey, I need a little help with weight loss and diet…”

To be in service to a man who gave me more than I deserved at a time when I needed it most, was not just a pleasure but an honor.

I truly do not know how I would have gotten through that period of my life without someone like him in my corner.

And if it taught me nothing else, it was a perfect parallel to what we do here at the Rev: Believe in people when they’ve lost faith in themselves. Get them closer to where they need to be.

On Day 26 of my Gratitude Experiment, I say to my dear friend and mentor, Dr. James Jones: Thank You. I am sincerely grateful.

Day 27: Jackie Wolf

Have you ever met someone so good at what they do, it’s almost as if they were born into it?

Jackie Wolf is one of those people.

Jackie and I met at the end of my first year in business, late 2009, at a local networking event.

While she was educated in engineering and worked in the field for some time, she transitioned into massotherapy.

I have always marveled at the fact that she took that engineering mindset and found a way to apply it to the human body.

The end result became a woman who is so gifted in human touch that it almost surpasses definition.

But, Jackie is far more than just her chosen profession.

We clicked almost instantly at that networking event and she has been a client of mine off and on throughout my career.

Jackie has always been one of the kindest and most giving people I know. I’ve always admired anyone who can listen as well as they speak but when they speak, you know they mean business.

As Jackie’s own massage practice has grown, she has brought with her a stable of practitioners who can also service those in need. We happen to share a particular client, who I will refer to as Susie for privacy reasons.

Susie had only ever been seeing other massotherapists at Jackie’s spot and I kept asking her “Have you had a massage with Jackie yet?”

To which Susie replied “No, only her other staff members but they’ve all been great.”

And it’s easy to understand why that would be the case. Jackie is so in demand that she can’t physically take every one who has in interest.

So when Susie finally had the opportunity to see Jackie for the first time, she knew what I had been raving about. Now, she’s hooked.

It may have been the first or second time Jackie ever gave me a massage, I drifted off into some other world for a spell and I will swear to you, to this day, I think she had me speaking in tongues. It was beyond my ability to put into words! Jackie, ever the diplomat, refuses to tell me if I was babbling, drooling, or both. She’s THAT good.

Over the years, she has been not only a client but close friend and a wonderful source of referrals. I knew that if Jackie was introducing someone to me, they had her seal of approval and that spoke volumes.

It has helped tremendously as well to have someone in that field that I could refer out to. Sometimes you need more than just a relaxation massage to solve a problem your body is having.

We have seen each other through a great deal of ups and downs in this life as well. Much of which I will not divulge here in matters of confidence. What I can say is that she has been a tremendous influence to me in the way I see both life and business. For that, I will forever be in her debt.

As with so many people I have referenced over the last few weeks, I think certain people are placed in your life at a particular time for a special reason. Jackie is, and will remain, one of those people.

On Day 27 of my Gratitude Experiment, I say to Jackie, Thank You. I am sincerely grateful.

Day 28: Mark Stratis

As yet another post in this series, I have to sit in wonder of the powers of networking.

Yesterday, I referenced Jackie Wolf and if my memory serves she referred Barbara Gerber who then referred Debbie Marsh Stratis and through Debbie, she sent her husband Mark Stratis to me.

Barbara and Debbie deserve posts of their own for the relationships we formed over the years together. But there was something that drew me to Mark immediately.

I believe it had something to do with the fact that he reminded me (in appearance) of my Opa.

So, throughout the years of training him, there would be a glance I would catch of him that would remind me of my paternal grandfather and always give me a good feeling. My Opa passed in 1993 so my memories of him would come and go over time.

And Mark would have been in a small group of men I gravitated to as some sort of moral compass after my Dad passed in 2011. Grant M. and Walter Horton would be considered in this conversation as well. Those men are worthy of posts of their own also.

It’s one of the many things I’ve loved about the work that I do. It’s the relationships. When business is less hectic, I have more time for more in-depth conversations and just learn more about what makes people tick.

And Mark and I had many of those conversations. He had suffered with some health issues before he started training with me and we always had to be mindful of how his workouts would feel because on any given day, those pre-existing health obstacles could be the difference between a good workout or one that may have to be cut short because the body refused to behave.

Affectionately, there were a couple of us in the studio who referred to him as our resident “grumpy old man” not unlike Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon from the movie of a similar name. Mark’s always had a bit of curmudgeon to him that could have me rolling in laughter in no time flat. Gotta love that!

But I’ll speak for Mark and I both in saying we had a lot of time to chat together and learn more about life together. When he lost his father, it broke my heart to know he’d be going through similar pains as I have had.

Sadly, all of the people (except Jackie) mentioned in this post have moved away. Of course, social media and good old email allow communications to continue but it’s never quite the same as those face to face interactions.

And because Mark was such a constant at the Rev for so many years before he and Debbie moved away, there were a lot of things both personal and professional that I leaned on him to help me with.

So, on Day 28 of my Gratitude Experiment I say to Mark, Thank You. I am sincerely grateful.

Day 29: Irene Leenaarts

My entire life, through until she passed in 2015, I never heard my Oma say an unkind word about anyone.

And I guess, when you’ve survived the holocaust, life takes on a vastly different perspective.

Many trainers in my industry reference Victor Frankl’s “Man’s Search For Meaning” as a highly influential book for them. When I asked Oma if she knew anything about him or that book she said she did not.

I told her, “You know he was in four different concentration camps, and like you, he was in Auschwitz.”

Her response: “He was in four? Hmm, I was in fourteen.” And if you knew her, you knew she wasn’t saying it to boast.

There were great lengths to measure in order of patience, kindness, gratitude, and consideration when I think about every conversation she and I ever had. After my Opa passed, she spoke more freely about what life was like through the war until she was rescued.

But I learned so much from her and it breaks my heart to know that she had to see my Dad leave this world before it was her time to go. Many of our conversations between those four years (2011 of his passing and 2015 for hers) were about him and rightfully so. There was a lot to discuss.

In as much as I’ve used my father as a reference point for my own behaviors, I also have to consider how much of what he exhibited was a direct line from his own parents. Oma was truly a wonder and you would have been hard pressed to find a more loving individual in this world.

She was always so supportive of everything I ever got involved in. But with this business, everything changed. She knew how much of myself I was putting into it and certainly when it started, she knew how much of a help my Dad was in getting this business off the ground as well. He literally helped me put together every piece of equipment I had when I started.

So when she would say those words to me: “Your Dad would have been so proud.” I was usually reduced to tears.

It is their voices that I think remain in my mind for much of what I do today. Would they be proud? Are we fulfilling the hope of everything we can do to improve the lives of others?

I hope so.

On Day 29 of my Gratitude Experiment I say to my Oma, I miss you, I love you. Thank You. I am sincerely grateful.

Day 30: You

If you have in any way consumed what I write, what I publish with my podcast or if you’ve ever liked, loved, shared or been inspired by something I’ve put out into the world, thank you.

There is always an assumed risk that any content you put into the world will be met with crickets but I’ve been fortunate to have many people engage with my work. As a result, my business grows, I can support my family and I can spend every day just trying to get better at what I do. That to me, is a race that cannot be won but a path that can always be traveled.

I am fortunate to have a roster of clientele who make our face-to-face business churn.

I am fortunate to have an online stable of clientele who help me spread the RevFit word across the globe.

I am fortunate to have a staff of trainers who can assist in building this business beyond my original expectations.

I am fortunate to have a family who have not only stood by my side over these years but propel me to be better constantly.

And I am grateful to you, faithful reader for being that whisper in my ear to say…keep improving. Something’s working. To each of you, I say Thank You. I am sincerely grateful.

“We Make Great People Greater”

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