Where Will Your Journey Take You?

There are no wrong turnings. Only paths we had not known we were meant to walk.

Guy Gavriel Kay, Tigana

Every student that I have taught has walked into AFNA with some idea of how they want to help people. It may be coaching, training, nutrition, or a little bit of everything. This tends to be the primary motivation behind enrolling into the curriculum. However, the idea often reshapes itself over time as the students continue to contemplate on what exactly they want to be doing after graduating. It’s not easy to figure this out at first. I ended up miles away from where I thought I was heading. It’s very important to recognize that this is all a process. And it’s usually a long process. Nonetheless, when I meet the students for the first time, I always ask:

What do you want to do as a coach?

I don’t intend to intimidate anyone with this question. It’s not intended to be an existential question, either. Rather, I just want to get to know the student a little bit more. As a teacher, it’s my job to try and guide them into the role they see themselves being most successful in. But what these students don’t know is that this question is the beginning of a process. It’s the beginning of their journey. I think many of us in our younger days started out with an idea of what we wanted to do when we grow up. Usually, somewhere along the path of adulthood, we stray away from that dream. So when the students want to enter into the fitness world and enroll in AFNA, I want to help them rediscover that journey.

I wanted to become a physical therapist for a major league sports team when I began my degree in Kinesiology.

I thought it would be the perfect job: working on the sidelines with athletes, helping them recover from their injuries back to elite form. As soon as I graduated from college I immediately came across an opportunity to work for LA Fitness. This club had just opened, and they needed trainers and staff. I was young and freshly graduated, so I figured ‘why not’. I applied for a job and began my fitness career as a Personal Training Counselor. This became the first major pivotal moment of my career. I didn’t know at that moment that my journey to becoming a physical therapist just ended. 

Remember: there are no wrong turns–only paths we had not known we were meant to walk. At LA Fitness, I quickly became one of the top sales associates and soon thereafter I got promoted into management. I remained in that position for about a year before deciding to transition to the Personal Training department. I grew tired of management and wanted to get into training and coaching, since this is what I had studied for in college. As it turned out, I made the transition and shortly after I found myself training about 10 – 12 people per day, usually working from 8am – 6pm, Monday through Friday. It was very exciting in the beginning. I had the freedom to curate my schedule, and I had an opportunity to work as much or as little as I wanted. However, days quickly grew long and nights got shorter and shorter.

I only lasted two more years.

The daily grind thinned me out as each day was more draining than the last. It was a never ending struggle just trying to catch up on sleep. Two years later, I called quits and decided to move to Los Angeles. I just needed to get out of the fitness industry. I was physically and emotionally drained after training so many people through the years. Don’t get me wrong, there were many rewarding instances. For example, I had many client breakthroughs as they set new personal records, I curated friendships and relationships, and I gained valuable experience working with so many unique people. But I was burned out and I needed something different.

In this time, I grew more and more interested about the idea of massage therapy. I figured, this could be a great transition year into the world of physical therapy. I could use massage to help my clients manage their pain, and then use training to keep them strong and healthy. Add a nutrition certification in there and I’d be the triple whammy: workout, regeneration, nutrition! So I decided to enroll in the NHI Massage School in Studio City. This was the second major pivotal moment of my career. 

Massage School, Baristas, and Investopedia

While I studied massage therapy, I got a part time job as a Barista at my favorite coffee shop: Philz Coffee. I enjoyed the balance between a tough day at school and and easy day at work. Working at Philz Coffee taught me two very valuable life lessons: how to create conversation with strangers, and how to make a perfect cup of joe. I still use both skills to this very day! Daily conversations with strangers became a joy I was not accustomed to. I felt myself getting more and more intuitive with these conversations as I improved my ability to relate to people.

After graduating from Massage Therapy School I got a job working in the spa at Equinox. The prestigious gym gave me an avenue of highly skilled colleagues to learn from. Although I wasn’t directly involved with the fitness side of business, I still kept my skill set tuned. I massaged, I poured coffee, and I trained. Over and over again. Before I knew it I was back in the very same grind I wanted to leave.

At this point in my life I was having serious doubts if the health and fitness industry was the right place for me. I was working my ass off 6 – 7 days a week but the paychecks didn’t reflect it. So, I spent my extensive downtime at the spa studying finance and personal investment strategies. I read a ton of books on financial literature, I took free courses on economics, and I started studying to take the series 7 and 66 financial advisor license tests.

The Best Worst Accidental Decision of My Life

Eventually the day came and I decided to leave the fitness world (again) and pursue the ambitious career of being a financial advisor. Disclaimer: I still to this day believe learning how to manage your finances and invest intelligently is one of the greatest skills every human being needs to learn. My passion has always been to help people, so I figured I might be good at helping them create financial success. After a few months of interviews at hundreds of different banks and investment branches I finally got an opportunity to join an internship at J.P. Morgan Stanley. It is a paid, 3 year job that is designed to teach someone how to become a registered financial advisory (aka a fiduciary advisor). I planned to start the following week.

But, the very next day, my friend from Philz Coffee calls me to ask if I wanted to meet with the owner of this gym she started working for. She told me I should come check it out, no pressure, just to see what it was about. I saw no harm in the invitation, so I decided to head over for one of the workouts where I could then meet the owner. Little did I know this would be the 3rd, and most important, pivotal moment of my career.