When I was 16 I decided to finally take up the practice of martial arts. Like most kids my age, I thought ninjas were super cool, so why not become one? I started on my own, and at 17 I joined a local karate school in my small town in upstate New York, and after a few years I earned my black belt. I never thought at this point I would one day be a fitness coach, but life has many surprises in store for us.
The training was hard, but it instilled in me the value of hard work and also how training the body could improve your abilities physical. I studied from books that I could find on how to strengthen my body for the martial arts. But I still wanted to learn more and keep pushing my limits.
After high school I studied graphic design at a two year school, but it proved to be a dead end for me. I was too interested in martial arts and learning more about the human body, but I hadn't put the pieces together yet on how to make this into a career.
With the help of my dad I enlisted in the US Air Force, for a four year contact on active duty. There is no easy way to say it, these were the toughest four years of my life, but I will never, ever, regret them. They made me so much stronger mentally, and I needed that experience to grow as a person and see who I really was.
After the Air Force, I returned to my small town, not sure what I was going to do. I started working as a laborer and I loved the physical work but it didn't seem like a good long term plan. I also went back to my old karate school and took it over from my instructor to run it as my own business. This went on for about a year and a half when I decided I had to study the body in a formal setting and make coaching my career.
I attended Ithaca College and earned my bachelors degree in exercise science, which gave me the foundation I needed to really understand proper training principles. I learned about physiology, weight loss exercise, nutrition, biomechanics and more. While I was there I was also able to learn a great deal through internships. I worked with D1 College athletes in Syracuse NY, was an assistant strength coach to my own colleges swim team, worked in cardiac rehab, shadowed physical therapists and worked part time in the schools faculty training facility.
All of this practical knowledge led me to several different training jobs after graduation where I could further hone my skills as a coach, getting to work with hundreds of clients. I still work full time with clients in person, but I knew I could help more people if I had a better way.
And that thought, was the beginning of Everything But The Gym.