There’s No Place Like Home
The True Essence of Community.
In March of 2010, Energia opened it’s doors as a first of it’s kind fitness facility in Western Mass, focusing solely on Spinning and yoga. Jennifer Siddall, of Amherst, founded the studio with a strong passion for health & wellness. She carried this passion and vision for a true mind-body connection through, year-after-year, making consistent changes and ultimately building the foundation for a successful business. She showed everyone that in one small room, truly remarkable things could happen.
Early in 2012, a nervous, awkward 22-year old UMass graduate stumbled across the facility, while job searching in the area.
He strongly disliked his current job, especially after this happened:
But, he at least continued to keep himself entertained…
And, so the story continues: Jennifer hired Justin as a personal trainer, and he got started with his first clients, a young couple from Granby, several weeks later. On the side, he began Pioneer Valley Fitness, an in-home personal training business, with a small office in Sunderland. Justin quickly quit his Raggedy Ann position, to focus solely on personal training. As Justin matured (many would say that’s debatable), he began to take on more responsibility…both within Energia, and his own business venture, as well. Without the expertise, guidance, and wholehearted faith his clients continued to exude on him, the journey would have stopped there.
Several months later, while walking through the UMass Dining Commons, I received a phone call from Jennifer. Robert (shown below), was going to be traveling for work and she needed a new spin instructor. “Uhhhmm, let me think about it”, is all I remember. For days, I deliberated. Me, a spin instructor? I had barely gotten over the broccoli days, which damn near sent me to therapy. How could I get in front of a huge group (by huge, I mean 12) people? But, this was my chance. I needed to branch out, to make a name for myself. Shortly after my certification class, I was put on the schedule for a Saturday Spin class. Ironically, it’s the same class I teach to this day, now four years later. Anyways, Friday night rolled around and I went to Dick’s to buy a new outfit (awwww). I returned home to find that my roommate had invited about 15 people over, music blasting, drinks everywhere. Horrified, I left and rented a room at the hotel up the road. 6 hours later, I had crafted (what I believed to be) the perfect workout. By crafted, I mean I went to Michael’s to buy a poster board, Popsicle sticks, and markers (you can’t make this stuff up). My goal was to write the entire workout onto the poster board and bring it with me onto the bike. How could I screw up if I wrote down all of my lines on the sheet? Oh, and don’t worry, just in case the sheet were to bend, I bought the Popsicle sticks for extra security.
Within about 4 minutes on the bike, while I was introducing myself and going over the positions, my sweat must’ve continuously dripped down onto the poster board…because when I looked down to start my cueing, all I could see was a bigggg old smear of magic markers. At this point, all I could do was smile. “Really Justin? You buy yourself an outfit, you remember the damn Popsicle sticks that look ridiculous taped to the back of this page, but you couldn’t think to laminate the sheet”.
So there you have it Jennifer, there’s the true story of what happened that day!
Oh yeah, and here’s Robert, back in the old studio! If Robert didn’t go away, I wouldn’t be here today. I still don’t know where you went, but THANKS Robert!
Needless to say, I survived. My success was SO wild and apparent, the next day I bought the business. KIDDING!
Before that could happen, there was a whole lot of this:
So without further ado…
“All is connected … no one thing can change by itself.”
There’s no denying that we are creatures of habit. We are efficient and effective when we put routine systems in place for ourselves, at work and in everyday life. I have talked (sometimes incessantly) about the importance of setting goals, planning ahead, and following through by method of practice. The desire to put routines in place is natural and healthy, for sure, but it’s also important to remember that these routines get interrupted all the time. One thing that is constant in our lives is change, and over the past week, particularly, I’ve been contemplating what I’ve dubbed as “certain uncertainty”—the knowing and accepting of the inevitable transitions we endure. I was sifting through Katie’s Corners of yore and realized that I have never solely addressed the topic of change. Probably because it can be so effin’ scary.
Change is standard and tenacious, and yet, we can be so resistant to it. In my view, there are two types of change: that which we expect, such as a change in weather, and that which we don’t, such as getting into a car accident. And then there are those changes we expect but are still incredibly averse to, such as a decline in a loved one who has a terminal disease.
For all the many reasons we have for being resistant to change, our ability to adapt makes us beautifully human. And once we adapt, we become more equipped to mentally accept the changes present in our lives, no matter how daunting or overwhelming they may seem. We often think of change negatively, which is natural, as it “interferes with” the ability to accomplish our everyday tasks efficiently. But this negative view is not especially growthful.
My challenges for you this week are twofold. The first is to find small ways in which you can alter the environment around you. Choose the front row in spin class rather than the back, or try that new recipe you pinned on Pinterest last week instead of making meatloaf for the thousandth time. Note how these controlled, seemingly insignificant acts affect you. See if they vary your perspective and/or encourage you to learn something. Simple practices like these can help prepare you subconsciously for those big changes that are sure to come your way every now and again.
The second is to recognize and understand your patterns when dealing with change. Do you immediately get overwhelmed? Or maybe you become indecisive. Maybe you’re doing a helluva lot better than the rest of us, and you are flexible and easily adaptable. Whatever your specific pattern, gathering this knowledge will only help you to know yourself better and how to move forward.
Of course, it’s much easier to accept change when those things are new and exciting. Hint, hint, nudge, nudge—stay tuned, ya’ll!
In an age where we are consumed by and inundated with stimulation from ads, text messages, social media, news, (I mean, I could go on), we rarely take time to be fully present in a given moment. We don’t have time to do everything the day calls for, and many times we don’t take a second to look up from the whirlwind that is our life. Many of you might not know that I graduated with a degree in Religious Studies and took to meditation pretty eagerly during my college years. Vipassana meditation, in which the practitioner focuses on the breath, has helped me immensely with being in the present moment and to manage general anxiety, and it’s something I still practice today. I encourage you to take a break one or two times over the next week and quiet your mind in an effort to deal with daily stressors and general goings-on in your life by following this meditation guide below.
Chances are, you will feel lighter, taller, freer, and/or more aware than when you started!
Many times, people will ask us what we eat during the day to get an idea of foods that might be healthy for them. Verging slightly from my regular routine of Katie’s Corner, I thought I would bring to you one of the most vulnerable parts of my house-my kitchen! So I sifted through items in my own refrigerator and pantry and am presenting them to you here in hopes that you are able to get an idea of items that might be great for you to eat for meals and snacks. This is not intended to be a guideline for your own diet, but I do think it’s helpful to get an inside view of someone else’s kitchen. I’ve made notes here and there, but if you have specific questions, please reach out to me in the studio or by emailing me at email@example.com.
Most of these items you’ll want to use sparingly, as they can be high in calories, but they can provide bursts of flavor even when used sparingly. Healthy food does not equal bland food!Items that you don’t want to use sparingly in this list, however, are the storage containers. Plan your meals in advance and portion them into these, so that you have grab-and-go options for lunches or snacks during the day. I cannot stress this point enough-planning and preparing your meals in advance are the keys to staying on track and in your ultimate success. You will spend less time planning and prepping your meals in advance than if you wing every meal.
Fage 0% or 2% Greek Yogurt
Go Lean Crunch
Greek Yogurt Sorbet with a teaspoon of honey
Last week, I wrote about motivation versus commitment. This week, let’s take a step back and delve into what brought about these goals you have set for yourself, whether it be because of the New Year, or because you simply wanted to make a change. Maybe something was lacking or you may have felt disappointed, embarrassed, worried, or angry about a certain event or situation taking place in your life. It is important to note here that’s it’s wonderful that you have the desire to set a goal for yourself, but you must first acknowledge why you wanted to make a change rather than simply what you wanted to change. Identifying and coming to terms with those difficult feelings instead of brushing them all pain under the rug will help you immensely in your success and will keep you from repeating the same mistakes again.
For example, you have decided that you want to drop a pants size in the next two months. You’ve figured out all the logistical steps you need to take to do it: you’ve planned your meals, you’ve got a workout routine in place, you have set a specific time to wake up and go to bed. Good job! Now it’s time to focus on your feelings around your goal, rather than just creating plans for success. Reflect on the way you felt before you decided to change. Why did you decide set your goal of losing a pants size, for instance? Maybe you didn’t like the way you looked, or you felt sluggish during the day. Maybe you don’t want to put yourself at a greater risk of heart disease, or you know that you feel alive and active at a smaller size. You may have to make it a practice once a week to call to mind the reasons let led you to set your goals because, many times, once isn’t enough. Dwelling on the past won’t help you move forward, but understanding the reasons for your motivations will.
Many times, I speak about health and fitness in my Corners, but this could pertain to anything you have goals for. Other examples could be to laugh more in the new year, to forgive yourself or another person, to cut down on spending, etc. Your challenge this week is to think about why you’ve decided that there was a need for change. Because sometimes, in order to move forward, we must go backward first. And once you acknowledge why you finally decided to change your mindset, beautiful things will happen: you will begin to heal and get one step closer toward success.
Your Success is our Success,
Justin, Katie, and the entire 50/50 team!
As we approach the month of February, many of us find ourselves falling into a pattern, a routine, one that may ultimately define our “new year”. Inevitably, many will struggle with continuing to progress and persevere as time ticks on. It’s something about the month of February that really presents a whole new slew of challenges to us all. Momentum wanes and the cold weather takes it’s toll. So how do we make this year different? How do we not fade off into 2016 with our sights forever set on new beginnings? I write this now, because we see it every year. It’s not at all about deciding to make change; it’s about continuing to make change. And the latter takes a lot more work, dedication, and commitment. So we challenge you to forget the last month, throw it away…the good, the bad, the ugly. The real challenge starts now. Your year, your life, all of it.
It means keeping food journals so you can monitor your diet consciously. It means setting up a reminder on your phone to notify you every day to take some time to exercise. It means fighting every inclination to drive straight home after work or to take that seat on that couch.
Accountability is EVERYTHING.
If you’re not working towards a specific goal, how likely are you to find success? Where does the passion come from? …the motivation?…the drive? And how can you realistically expect to overcome the obstacles that are constantly thrown your way?
Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. But, we can help. We are here to hold you accountable. To work through obstacles, excuses, and insecurities. To challenge and support you in ways you never thought possible.
So what’s your biggest downfall? Ask yourself why you can’t exercise on a consistent basis. Or maybe ask yourself why your diet is in pieces. Have the two ever really come together for you?