I have always tried to be athletic and fit. In high school I was never one of those jocks who had it all figured out, but I worked hard and tried everything to play sports and give it my best. All my hard work paid off a few times with a Gold Medal for 3 metre springboard diving at the BC Summer Games in Burnaby, 1984. As well I had success with Gymnastics, ranking 8th in Level 2 in BC at a High School tournament. A related back injury kind of finished that career and I switched to coaching kids for a few years while in College for Architecture. I ran a volleyball league or two, some ski trips, taught disabled skiers for a few years, climbed a lot of mountains, etc, all pretty good for keeping in shape. Then I got pretty motivated to do well at my career, and I got busy, real busy, like, no life except a desk kinda busy. Ok, great, so let’s fast forward about 11 years.
1998. 200 pounds. 29 years old. Worst shape of my life. At my desk all the time. I wanted to be a partner in the firm I was at, and they are a great bunch of people at Group 2, so I really pushed hard. Long days turned to long weeks and long months. I missed a whole Summer in 1998, pretty much living in the office from 8am until midnight or later. My body started to cave in. I was eating poorly, but I tried (from what I knew) to eat healthy-ish. Still, with my schedule, I limited myself to eating fast food and not very often, I skipped lunch or held off on Supper until very late, I missed breakfast sometimes, etc. Then I started to get sick, and doctors couldn’t figure out what was going on. I developed allergies to a lot of things, like pollen, dust, grass, etc. I became allergic to fruit with a peel that you eat, like apples, peaches, nectarines, pears, cherries, etc. All my favourites. I was not impressed. I was taking extra strength Claritin or Reactine all summer long and mowing the lawn with a mask. Then things began to get worse. I got sick a few times and it never really went away. I began getting dizzy at work and almost falling out of my desk chair. The dizziness made me nauseous, so the Doctor prescribed Gravol, an anti-vomit medicine which makes you tired. So I started drinking tea, which I hated slightly less than coffee, but if there was enough sugar it was ok. Often that didn’t work well enough so I took some caffeine tablets to help me get my high pressure, high stress work done. Soon I began to notice a ringing in my ears, especially at night when I was lying down. My Wife would try to talk to me and the ringing in my ears was louder than her voice so I had to ask her not to talk to me while we were in bed, or to just whisper which was tolerable. Test after test after test, specialists on and on to no avail. They could find nothing wrong. Months went by and I was a wreck, but still working my butt off to get that partnership!
Finally I went to my Doctor with a list of all the symptoms written down and all the test done and non-results received. He reluctantly reviewed the data, asking if it was a comment on the medical system. I said that it was not, but merely a chance for him to see all of my symptoms at once. After all, he saw dozens and dozens of patients a day, I was just another 5 minutes in his long work day, but to me, I’m all I have. He gave me a physical again, but this time he was patient about it and asked me some questions along the way.
“Are you eating well?” “No. Only things that can be micro waved and eaten in under 10 minutes total.”
“Are you getting enough sleep?” “Some nights around 5 or 6 hours, often less.”
“Are you exercising?” “I don’t have time to exercise, I’m too busy.”
“Are you under any stress?” “Uh, yah! I run a team that works very long and hard hours, I am in charge of millions of dollars worth of Architectural projects that are entirely deadline driven.”
“Well then you need to eat better, exercise, get more sleep, and try to ease up on the stress.”
Best advice I have EVER gotten! I went from his office and got brochures from every gym in town. The next day I began to ask a friend of mine named Pat some nutrition questions. Pat was one of those kids (18 years old) who was in great shape and was passionate about being in great shape. He really seemed to know his stuff so I asked him a LOT of nutrition questions. I compared the gyms I had toured and chose the place I was going to join. I bought a 3 year membership because I knew this would not be a short term thing. That night after work, at the gym, I was handed a video. Body of Work by Bill Phillips. The lady at the gym told me to watch it and tell me what I thought. I went home and sat in the basement and watched the video that night. The movie is a documentary about 7 people who change their lives and regain their fitness in the first ever contest called the “Body For Life Challenge”, which is now world wide and the industry standard in the fitness industry. I cried. I sat in the basement of my home alone and cried. (my Wife was off at school in another city) I knew that I could change my life and fix this mess that I was in and I was starting tomorrow with more effort than anyone had ever seen! The contest at that time was only open to US residents, so I made my own plan with the help of some friends and a trainer and off I went! I started out slowly to let my body adjust and then I began to work hard! I let my bosses know that I needed to slow down a little and de-stress, which they were very supportive of. I became a student of nutrition, learning everything I could find. In a week the ringing in my ears stopped and the dizziness went away. In two weeks the rest of my symptoms were gone too and I slept like a baby every night. After a month I had shed 20 pounds of excess fat and retained water. Now that I was drinking 3-4 litres of water a day my body no longer needed to hoard it in my cells and I got thinner. Soon a few months passed and I was feeling better than I had in years and years! Then the contest, Body For Life, opened up to Canada and I entered! I focused right in, set high goals and worked harder than I have ever worked in my life at anything. I was 100% focused and committed to this goal and I would surrender for nothing. My body responded in kind, getting stronger, faster and more efficient. I had more energy than I knew what to do with! I held my patience and trusted in the process as my midsection resisted the fat loss until about week 9. Then my abs began to show. It literally took a week from pudgy midsection to washboard abs, it was amazing! I began to get more and more lean and look better and better!
I kept training right up until the deadline I had set for myself and was really amazed at my progress. Some challenges then came about. I had hired a professional photographer to take the “after” photo’s and they looked TERRIBLE! I was devastated! I called the Body For Life challenge help line and they told me not to worry. Set a new deadline for myself (you were allowed to go past 12 weeks back then – which has since changed) and find a new photographer. I did so. turns out that the first photographer, despite 3 sessions, kept using portrait lighting – soft and gentle. That’s flattering if you are getting wedding or graduation photo’s done, but horrible if you want to show off your hard earned muscle separation! The new photographer understood this and took way better shots! In the meantime though, several other things happened to challenge me!
A month before completion, I bulged a disc in my back! It was a silly little jump over a rope that was a foot high! I landed funny and boom! I could barely walk. With my Chiropractor and Physiotherapist working double time, I was back up and running right away. I kept on training my upper body (in pain, but bearable) and soon could use a few of the non impact cardio machines like the cross trainer and bike. I pressed on! Then, a week before completion of the challenge, a 15 pound dumbbell rolled off a bench and landed on the top of my foot! Ouch! More limping, but again, I was able to work through it.
Finally the “after” photo’s were done and I celebrated and waited. I finished in September, and the judging wasn’t until after Christmas. It didn’t matter, I had a new body, a new life and a new attitude! It was amazing how much more fun I was having and how much energy I had! People kept asking what I had done, how I had learned everything and changed so much. I ended up training a lot of friends and co-workers. It was SO rewarding to see them change and grow too. In the early part of 2000, I got a letter from Bill Phillips of Body For Life and EAS. Inside was a gold medal, t-shirt and some other cool stuff. I stood in my kitchen and grinned while my eyes leaked a little. I did not win, but I was in the absolute top percentage of all of Canada and had done very well. It was awesome!
From there, things moved forward in an amazing direction. After the challenge I had begun talking to Pat about us owning our own gym. I wanted to have a rock climbing facility and a fitness centre combination. We started working on business plans, read books, attended a few courses and learned a bunch. Sadly, our initial idea proved to be way over our heads financially and we shelved it, comfortable in our jobs that we were tired of, but well paid for.
In April of 2000, I was given a ticket to go see T.Harv Eker, a Tony Robbins sort of fellow from Vancouver, B.C. For whatever reason, I was available and my Wife and I went to see this man and his course called “SpeedWealth”. I was blown away and could not WAIT to take his next course: Money Mind and Spirit!!! My Wife, was not interested. His style did not appeal to her, but she saw that I was fired up, so I went ahead and bought tickets to the next course. At that course, so many things changed about me and my life, I cannot begin to tell you! My Wife, Hilary, ended up joining me for the final day, and she too, learned a lot! It changed so many things and created so much of a shift in our lives, it was stunning! Our marriage had always been great, now it was better. We no longer fought about money at all, as we had been taught where our money issues and attitudes had come from, and how to work with them, instead of fight about them. At the course, Harv promoted his new Business Coaching program: Success Tracs. I jumped in. then he promoted Enlightened Warrior Training Camp, again, I knew I had to go. Hilary said no way – “one course is fine, two is way over our head.” We talked and eventually I offered to sell my car to go. she was shocked, but agreed I could go. As it turned out, I got a bonus a month later that covered the cost of the course. First time ever and since that the firm gave summer bonuses. Cool.
The Success Tracs program taught me to set goals and break them down, so I wrote about big my dream to own a gym. That got placed in my 3 year intention, then broken down into smaller pieces and eventually to what I could do that week to move forward. I ordered the study material to become a certified Personal Trainer. the summer went quickly, I got certified and in September, took Warrior. I returned Sunday night from camp, wrote my resignation and on Monday, handed it in. 3 weeks from becoming an associate partner. They were shocked, but understood my decision. I left Architecture and went to work in a gym for $6 an hour. It was a real learning curve and I jumped in to every part of the gym business; I cleaned, scrubbed, fixed, built, ordered, sold memberships, opened the gym, closed the gym, covered shifts, and more. All I could learn, I took on. I started a newsletter in the club and trained all the beginners. I quickly found that this would not pay the bills, so did some contract work with the firm to make ends meet. A perfect fit!
The owner of the gym had talked to me about buying it from her, but after a few months, she changed her tune. She would not even look at the legal offer to purchase and disclosure documents that I had brought in from my lawyers office. Things went sour quickly and I retreated to my old career on a more full time contract basis. I kept personal training and started up at a second gym as a trainer – seems they had heard what a great job I was doing at the first gym and wanted me to come over. I started once again to find a place to buy.
My search led me to small towns near where I lived, and I became pretty serious about buying a gym called Fitco in Innisfail, a half hour drive from our house. Since the current location was poor, I began to do investigations into land, lease buildings, demographics etc. The owner and I talked about many different parts of his business and the price of his membership and equipment. We were in the midst of those negotiations, when my Wife and I drove to Sylvan Lake to look at houses. If I was to be working in Innisfail, it didn’t matter to me whether we lived in Sylvan Lake or Red Deer, it was a half hour drive. For Hilary though, it was a big difference! Sylvan was 30 minutes closer to her work! We looked around Sylvan and were impressed. I decided to come out for an afternoon and check out the gym in town, since I would likely be using it when we moved. What a dump! In the phone book, Sylvan Lake registered 3 gyms for a town of 7000 people. No room there I had previously thought. By was I wrong! One of the gyms was a Curves ladies only hydraulic, the other was a little bit of equipment in the basement of the smoky legion. The third was the place I was horrified to be standing in. The equipment was poorly maintained, the colours were dark and depressing: black, low ceilings with dark burgundy walls. The screen saver on the front computer (that clients could see) was a playboy model or something exiting a hot tub in a skimpy wet tank top. Not appropriate for a co-ed facility in my eyes. The gym was small and run down. I knew I had found my opportunity and I went for it!
Months of research led me to be 100% confident about building in Sylvan Lake, and with our new house and an acre of land for the gym purchased, things looked great! I forgot one thing though: I was working contract Architecture 4 days a week, personal training nights and weekends, getting the business plan done, meeting with town council on permits and bylaws, plus finishing the basement of our new house. I was hardly sleeping at all, and constantly in high gear. I was hit with a thyroid virus that had me drop 31 pounds in less than 3 weeks. I was not well! I was in bed for a month straight and not very mobile much after that. It took 3 months to get over the virus, and thankfully I found an immune system rebuilding herbal product that saved me from the return visit that the virus is patterned after.
Finally I was well enough to resume things and construction began in December of 2001. On February 13th, we had a problem. the bank had gone under new management for the commercial sector and they cancelled my financing. With construction over $350,000 complete, I did not have the money to pay the bills. I told the contractor the news and asked him what he wanted to do. He told me that he strongly believed in me, and that I needed to just find a way to get the money and keep going. He knew I had a winner on my hands, and that I had the guts to make it succeed. That was all I needed to go for it! I hit the street hard and talked to 13 banks before coming back to the first one, and asking what it would take to change their mind. I needed to come up with some more money into the project. That was it. I quickly got on the phone with my parents and relatives and raised the money needed to get the project rolling again.
On May 27th, 2002 BodyFit Fitness Centre, Sylvan Lake opened it’s doors to a long line up of people waiting to get in and buy memberships. We were packed solid for 5 hours straight with 5 of us writing up agreements and 3 others handling the crowd. Within 2 months we had enough members to pay the bills and hire more staff. One of the BEST things I did, was hire my old training partner, Pat Lessard to be my Assistant Manager. He is the most amazing person you will ever meet, and absolutely a foundation of the success of my business. Actually, I could say that of all of my staff – they are spectacular!
From there, things just got better and better! The gym became more and more successful and all of the new costs, taxes, start ups and such seemed to be manageable. So far, so good!
With more staff, I have been able to concentrate on my own health, writing my book (www.yourbodycar.com for more info) and more!
In 2004, we were awarded the Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year for 2003! A HUGE accomplishment and a tremendous honour! It’s been a challenging road, but through it all, I wouldn’t change a thing! Now we are finding a way to expand so we can incorporate a bigger child care operation, bigger studio, more personal trainers, and indoor rock climbing! I am personally training to compete in the Half Ironman July, 2005, speaking to people around North America on my book subject of health and fitness, and things look great!