“The task ahead of you should never be as great as the support behind you.”
Six years ago I was fired from my personal training job for being a cocky prick. Kicked out of my apartment. Traveled across the country with my aspirations of becoming a police officer. Was denied that dream. Came back and tried again around here. Denied again. Moved into my parents’ house with no money, got a job at a local Bally’s Fitness as a sales manager, and it was the worst job I’ve ever had in my life.
One day I was working out in my old gym that I used to train for and my old boss came up to me and said, “Do you want a job?”
Knowing that this was the same boss who fired me some-years ago I replied, “Sure.”
He gave me a position as a front desk attendant. He purposely gave me jobs of cleaning toilets. Picking up trash outside. Shoveling snow. Anything to make me a better person. After one year of going through that hell, because my true passion was training people or law enforcement, I finally walked into his office.
I looked at him and said, “You are wasting me here behind this desk. I’m better than saying ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ to people.”
“What do you want?”, he said.
“I want to train. I want to help people.”
He gave me a shot and within a couple months, I built a 6AM program up 3 days a week from 4 people to 20 people. I stormed back into his office.
I said, “I want to create Jungle Gym.”
Little did I know, with that little support from a person who terminated me in the past and a couple of faces in the dirt, that I could live the American dream and get paid for what I absolutely love to do.
The feeling of helping people stupefies me. This weekend stupefied me even more.
Stupefy – verb:
As in, “This weekend was stupefying.”
This weekend was full of mind-boggling amazement of a group coming together. Jungle Gym hosted it’s first annual Jungle Gym Charity Golf Tournament. We raised $1,743 in that said tournament. That feeling. . .that stupefying feeling of coming together for a goal is breathtaking.
It got me thinking. What other stupefying feelings have I experienced? It all led me to this list. Maybe it can motivate another person somewhere across the country or right next door to be a part of a group that gives incentives to helping other people reach great potentials. The great thing is that myself and my clients can do it through the art of fitness.
Not all of these moments involve the accomplishments of charity, but if I had to rank the top 10 moments of Jungle Gym, it would definitely be in this order.
11.) The Celebrity Giant: This was a Cystic Fibrosis event that I was nominated for back in November of 2014. The “local celebrity” who raised the most money was deemed as the Celebrity Giant of Hampton Roads. Tons of local celebrities raised money for a good cause. That’s what charity work is all about. To me, the reason why I do so much charity work resembles my fitness life. It’s about starting with nothing, forging a group together, and raising support for someone who has less than us. The award wasn’t even the big deal to me. What really stupefied my nerves, butterflies, and goosebumps were the people who showed up to the event to support me. A whole kickball team who all attend Jungle Gym showed up in their uniforms after a game. My family showed up. Friends who don’t attend my class came to help the cause. Jungle Gymers left and right showed up. People cared. People who had no obligation to Cystic Fibrosis or even the event in general spent their time by my side. That’s why this is on the list.
10.) First 5AM Class Ever: You may not think it would be a big deal, but there was a random Monday morning 3 years ago that involved four former fabulous clients (I love alliteration).
It was Jungle Gym’s first ever 5AM class. It all started with 4 ladies who begged me the day before at a Sunday morning boot camp class to drag my ass into work early to train them. Needless to say I did. I remember having them do seated sledgehammer hits, crossing my arms, and thinking to myself that this wasn’t too bad. Now 5AM has grown to a 25+ student class time and shows some of the greatest team work I’ve seen in a gym. This moment sticks out in my head as a pivotal moment for Jungle Gym into making it as stupefying as it really is 5 days a week.
9.) Push Up Contest: Once upon a time, there was a battle of two knights against two fire breathing dragons after a full on war. The dragons won. The end.
That’s about the scenario that Adam Shelton and Brian Yohn had after a workout one day in Jungle Gym. Those dragon’s names were Randi Evans and Susan Burke.
The rule was “Boys vs. Girls” in a push up contest as a finisher to one of our workouts. The guidelines were that you had to break 90 degrees in your elbows and shoulders for the push ups and you couldn’t pause for more than 3 seconds at the top of your plank. The battle began. Bodies kept dropping everywhere. Four warriors were left. Spectators roared and cheered on their respective gender. It turned into one of the biggest cheer-fests we have ever had in a class setting. Even though I hate to do it to these boys but when they dropped, the eruption from the ladies was stupefying. It will always be a memory that brought us together even if Adam and Brian refuse to go near those two ladies again.
8.) September 1st, 2014: The infamous picture of me standing on a box with almost 100 clients on the floor around me was taken on September 1st, 2014. It was a Labor Day 90 Minute Holiday Workout. I remember that moment when I was standing on the box. I was looking around telling myself, “This is what I want to do the rest of my life.”
The gasp at the end of the finisher and the hand clapping after a 90 minute group class stupefied this moment into the top 10.
7.) Shake It Off: Some people look forward to the Super Bowl every year. Some people look forward to a beach vacation. I can honestly say that one event that I really look forward to every year is the Jungle Gym Christmas party. Little did I know that last year, a group of clients started a tradition that will probably last all of Jungle Gym’s existence. They surprised myself and the rest of my clients with a homemade music video. When this was revealed, every person who came on screen was cheered for and so many laughs were had. I remember standing in the back of the room seeing clients have their arms around the person next to them and a drink in the other hand just enjoying the spectacle. Friendships and memories were made over this video and the reveal still gives me chills to this day.
6.) Kettlebells On The Beach: This picture explains it all and if you had 60 people come see you on a Sunday in 100 degree heat, you’d feel stupefied too.
5.) July 4th, 2015: I love America as much as I love Jungle Gym. The fourth of July class in the year of 2015 will always stick out in my mind. Everyone (and by everyone, I mean 70+ people) dressed up in red, white, and blue. I separated the groups by making them pick out of a big Uncle Sam hat. The group names were America, Stars, Stripes, Fireworks, Flags, USA, and Freedom. Each group had to work together to complete a workout. The unity and team work that it portrayed reminded me of this great country. As a spectator of the class, I wanted to be in everyone’s group dishing out high fives and chest bumps. Blood, sweat, and tears. Red, white, and blue. No matter which way you put it, it’s stupefying.
4.) The Kettlebell Class: I have two families. My immediate family that made me the man that I am today and my Jungle Gym family that gets to see and experience that man that I am today. One of the best days of my life was when I experienced the both of them experiencing each other at the same time.
It was a Thursday night Kettlebell class. The room was full of 75 or more Jungle Gymers and others. Three of those 75 people were my mother, my brother, and my sister in law. First of all, a simple Kettlebell class isn’t just any type of feeling. Alone, the energy gets me through most of my weeks. Having my immediate family there in the midst of all that energy was stupefying. I remember looking at my brother during a song that I knew he would go berzerk over (Coheed and Cambria – Welcome Home). I remember the look of being stoked on his face and I remember choking up. To this date, it was still the greatest Kettlebell class of my life because of the fact that they could experience the energy and love that I experience at my work place on a daily basis.
3.) Mama MB: There was a knock on my door at around 9PM on a week night. I was sitting in my living eating my second dinner and saying to myself, “Who the hell is that?”
Let’s spring back about 2 years. I have a client named Marybeth, who I have been training for close to 6 years now. I can honestly say that she is now one of my best friends. Without putting her business out here, she needed to lose weight. So we decided to have an ultimate goal. That goal was to be a mother. We trained and dieted, and dieted and trained our asses off to lose just enough weight for her to be a healthy weight to be able to have a healthy pregnancy. Pregnancy was tough for her. Someone was testing her. Someone was testing her strength. Her perseverance. All we talked about was her getting pregnant from her supportive husband. We had many cry sessions. Laugh sessions. Sweat sessions. She updated me her every move.
Fast forward back to the knock on my door. I open up the door and there’s Marybeth. Holding up a onesie that read “World’s Greatest Uncle”.
Pardon my language but my exact words were, “Get the f*** out of here!!” This my friends, is why I train. Moments like these. It’s not about how many abs or seeing a vein in your quad. Its about the things that you will remember for the rest of your life.
2.) Burpee Fest 2014: When people hear the word Burpee Fest, they cringe. Not me. I think of “stupefy”. Burpee Fest is Jungle Gym’s version of the CrossFit Games. However, we don’t make it a competition based event and we do everything for charity. One of the workouts was bodyweight based. Competitors had to Hex Bar Deadlift their bodyweight as many times as they could in 4 minutes. Then they had to Renegade Row 40 pound dumbbells (for men) and 30 pound dumbbells (for women) as many times as they could in 4 minutes. Then they had to hold a handstand as long as they could.
Brian Pittman, a cancer survivor that I refer to as Pitt Daddy, held a handstand for 4 minutes. It wasn’t the hold that makes this top 2 moments of all stupefication. It wasn’t the person, even though Pitt Daddy is a role model for me. It was the community support. It was the cheers. It was like the dad who runs out to carry his little girl across the finish line when she cramps up or injures herself. It was the fact that Pitt held probably the most impressive thing that I’ve seen in all of my years of training, the fact that he did it for charity, and the fact that everyone in the room had his back. Thank you Jungle Gym and Pitt Daddy for making this a moment I will never forget.
1.) The Best Feeling Ever: On October 15th, 2013 I broke my leg and tore my ACL in the same incident. On November 15th, 2013 I had surgery on that said knee. I was devastated. It was honestly the hardest obstacle in my life to overcome. More than financial. More than losing my job. I was borderline depressed. That changed instantly. November 18th on a Monday morning, two of my clients picked me up at 5AM (because I couldn’t drive), and brought me into Jungle Gym so I could just watch. That was just the beginning of it. A week later when I was able to teach my first class since surgery, the best moment in Jungle Gym history happened.
During the down time between 5AM class and 6AM class there was a huge huddle around the water fountain. I knew something was wrong. About 50 clients cornered me into the room and one made a speech. Little did I know, they did a little charity for me. They handed me a check to cover my surgery costs that was collected from the group. It was this moment that I knew 100% that we weren’t just a workout program anymore, and that we were truly a family. You may have seen a tear run down my cheek, but then I immediately grabbed 200 pound dumbbells and repped out some farmer’s walks to bring my toughness level back up to a stupefying level.
I hope this inspired you to join a support group, help others, and take care of yourself.
This is where your body stupefies,