My Story

18


I was a loner in high school. Chubby and shy, I tried to fit in here and there but never really seemed to “get it”. I played sports, but sucked at them as I was never strong enough to compete with the other guys. I was in all the advanced classes, but didn’t fit in with the smart kids because I could never work up the energy to try (even a little bit) in my classes. Most of my friends from my younger years grew up to be stoners, so I could sort of hang out with that group, but I didn’t really do drugs. As I’m sure you know, people who do drugs don’t tend to trust those who don’t. So my situation was there were a lot of groups I was loosely accepted in but never felt a part of.

I was pretty sensitive and when I garnered the usual high school treatment, which apparently is now considered “hazing”, it just made me retreat more. During that period of time my home life left a little bit to be desired (who’s didn’t?), so I didn’t feel happy there. So instead of making it in school and with other people I played a lot of video and role-playing games to escape. I built a suit of armor around myself, shrouding myself in stoicism, being smarter than most people, and a dark, gothic, and “mysterious” personality. I pretty much went out of my way to alienate potential friends so they couldn’t hurt me. I’d rather have been alone than vulnerable and hurt. Oh, and women? Pfft. As you can imagine, that was a scary and unknown territory that I failed in whenever I (rarely) ventured to it.

All of that started changing around the time I headed off for college. I’d participated in a summer program that allowed me to get away from my high school and the people in it and helped me become a little more “me”. It taught me that I could be who I wanted to be, even if I had no clue as to who that was. When I hit college I was determined to reinvent myself. I hit the gym and fell in love with it. I became (a bit) more open and met some great new people. I started to reinvent myself and “grow up”. This is what I really learned during the years I was in college. Oh yeah, I picked up some calculus, art history, and ocean science for sure. However, what I really learned is that you can reinvent yourself anywhere and at anytime. You just need to do it. Luckily, you don’t have to go to a university to learn this if you don’t want to. I’ll be providing the tools to do that here.

Moving on… After finishing my Bachelor’s in Finance (and being the unwilling participant in one of the most severe and impressive break-up stories ever) I ended up returning to school to get my grad degree in Exercise Science. Somewhere along the line I’d become a trainer instead of a banker and chosen to work with athletes, focused adults, and struggling teens (like myself). I continued to develop my strength, my personality, and my mind. I was feeling pretty good about myself at this point.

After graduation my girlfriend at the time (oh yeah, I managed to get a bit better with the ladies as time went on) and I moved from Maine to South Carolina where I assumed I’d whip the world. What followed was four years of the worst and (at rare moments) best times of my life. While there are a lot of painful memories from that venture, it also provided the best lessons I could ever hope to learn. I learned that my shy personality didn’t lend itself to business success in the really-real world, especially in one as competitive as personal training. I was convinced that I was smarter than most of the trainers where I worked, far more educated, and yet I sucked. Sucked as in cashing $100 paychecks every two weeks, having two clients that were given to me by the gym, and getting my business pants beaten off me by far worse trainers than I. This wasn’t a short-term thing. It kept going, on and on, week after week. It was the first time in my life I’d really failed at anything that I expected to be good at and I was crushed. You know how some people get hit with adversity and muster up the power to move on? I had thought I was one of those people. It turned out I wasn’t. I retreated into my hole and hid.

See, I still was wearing this suit of armor that I’d crafted. The one that hid my personality. The armor of aloofness and assumed superiority. I didn’t need to ask for help because I was already better than those around me. Right. Yet they were far more successful, and the proof’s in the pudding. Needless to say, my resulting depression and the hard times (financially and otherwise) made the relationship I was in turn very toxic, very fast. She responded poorly to the whole thing and in turn I responded worse. Yet we kept limping the relationship along.

Fast forward a few years. I’d finally learned to ask for help and improve myself. So business (and training)-wise I was doing far better, although things were still a struggle as I was so unhappy that I couldn’t apply myself. The relationship had only degraded and both of us were hurting each other far more than could have been imagined. I found myself doing things that I never thought I’d do, and things that are against my personality, character, and nobility. At the same time she was treating me in a way that I can only assume she never wanted to.

So, with head down and tail between my legs I had to ask my father to drive from Maine to South Carolina (well over 1000 miles) in a pick-up truck to gather my stuff and drive me home. You can only imagine how painful that ride home was, although my father was extremely supportive and I’ll always be thankful for that. I arrived in Maine with $137 in my pocket, at the losing end of a five-year relationship (four in co-habitation), over $60,000 in debt, and pretty much nothing else. That’s a pretty low point.

So why do you give a shit about any of that? Who knows? Most people just like stories and they like to see that people on the internet as messed up as they are.

Here’s where we make the dramatic shift.

I realized that, at 28 years old, I still hadn’t really grown up and become a man. I could keep living like a little kid and keep crying about “poor me”, or I could get my head out of my ass and change my life. I also realized that it was time to do that. That’s when this journey really begins.

First I looked at my profession. I was already a good trainer, but I knew I could become better. So I sought out mentors. Guys that really knew how to take it to the next level. I learned everything I could from them. Then I paid them money that I didn’t really have (I’m not advising that) to meet them and learn more from them. If you take nothing else from anything I write, take this: Whatever you want to do in life, be it professional, social, or personal, find mentors and people that are already good at what you want to do. Treat them with respect, pay for their time, and listen to what they say. Their knowledge and experience will set you light-years ahead.

One of my biggest mentors, Zach Even-Esh and I outside his training facility in Edison, NJ

Then I looked at my own training. My time in the gym has treated me well and been the backbone by which my life has changed, that’s why I harp on it so much. It has taught me about pain and strife, and how to overcome them. It taught me the value of hard work and how you can transform yourself by it. I’m now considered a very capable athlete by almost everyone but myself (that douche-bag will probably never change his mind). My physical development will only improve with time and more aggression. I have confidence wherever I step because I face and overcome physical challenges nearly every day.

Once I sorted out my business and training life I started looking at how I approached interpersonal relationships. I’ve lost my fear of relationships and women. I love women and think that they’re tremendous, if frightfully irrational, creatures. My relationship skills have increased dramatically and continue to get better. I also learned that finding women, meeting women, “getting laid”, and all of that is not the challenge that I or most guys made it out to be. You know what? Women are people, too. While they may think a little differently than us guys, they still have insecurities, patterns, and goals. I also realized along the way that simply “getting laid” is a pretty sad goal, but I’m not knocking those who are still at that stage. We all develop over time.

I now am now a socially-capable creature and live largely free of fear in of social situations. Where before I used to literally choke when going into a strange donkey show (just making sure you’re still paying attention!) or gathering, I now can make myself part of any group and be the observer or life of the party, depending on my needs and desires.

I realized that my suit of armor wasn’t helping me anymore, if it ever did. So I slowly took it off, piece by piece. Am I a wide-open and blindingly trusting soul now? Hell no. I spent years working as a bouncer/door man, and living life in a variety of places in the country, all while studying people so it’d be hard to call me naive. What I’m saying is that I’m not out there to get stepped on, but I realize who I am, why I’m here, and that in order to be happy I need to be true to that.

I’m a teacher. I teach people about their bodies and how to get the most out of them. I teach people about the insights on success I’ve made in life and the barriers I’ve overcome so they can avoid them. I teach people how to develop and unify their mind, body, and nutrition to create the physique and life that they want. This is my contribution to society and my passion.

I’m a student. I learn from those who’ve been places I haven’t. I learn from those who have a different perspective on life. As a man I am constantly trying to learn how to be better at everything I do.

I’m a citizen. Of the world. I am an American to the core and I think that we have the greatest country in the world, despite our problems. That being said, we’re all in this together and every single person on this planet has something to teach you if you look hard enough.

I’m a man who feels that the world is there for us to explore. I believe in the “Renaissance Man”, or the “Polymath”. All of us have the capacity for so much more than what we’re doing now and it is our duty to develop all capacities of ourselves. Don’t be the simpleton jock. Be an athlete and a scholar. Don’t be the blindly obsessed gamer. Be a competitor and a music connoisseur. Don’t be a simple asshole. Be a discriminating personality with refined tastes and openness to discussion.

Life is there for our taking, not the other way around. I’ve learned how to stop trying to survive life and instead focus on crafting it to the way I desire it and be the man I want to be. Along the way and with the bumps and bruises I’ve picked up a lot on how to do that. I’m here to help you do the same and save you some of the trouble that I’ve gone through.

This little write-up is both a deep look into me and a cursory glance, depending on what you take from it. The objective has been to get the ball rolling and to let you know a bit about me as I write a website dedicated to improving men, their physiques, careers, and lifestyles. That, and above all it’s just a blog about a dude finding his way, having a kick-ass time, enjoying good beer, rock shows, cool experiences, and helping other guys achieve the same.


Along the way I learned that when you see something you want, grab it!

*dark and lonely road photo courtesy of Keith McGaughran

Pings on My Story

March 14, 2011
December 1, 2011
June 11, 2012

Comments on My Story Leave a Comment

May 13, 2011

Lucile @ 4:22 am #

Well I’ve been trying to succeed as a personal trainer in Los Angeles and so far not so good, be my mentor!!!!!! hahaha
I got certified only a year and a half ago when I realized sitting at a desk wasn’t making me the happiest (I was working as a marketing coordinator) – and since i had always been into dancing and fitness I thought maybe I could do it professionally but maybe I started too late?
I am turned off by corporate gyms because I hate the sales part of it, in other smaller places it’s just hard to get paid so little so I stopped applying. So without that it’s hard to build a name for myself, I keep teaching kids (group classes) but as of now that’s about it!
Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

May 16, 2011

Isaac @ 7:29 pm #

Lucile,

Drop me an email with some specific issues and we can figure something out!

Isaac

December 27, 2011

Anthony J. Yeung @ 12:47 am #

Isaac,

Wow, good read buddy. Saw more than a few similarities in my story and yours; I also earned a Bachelors in finance – Economics, actually, but same stuff – and struggled to overcome social phobias. It’s quite inspiring to see how well you’ve advanced throughout your career and battled back after moving back to Maine. I graduated back in 2009 and spent a lot of time teaching English abroad; then headed to Australia to get my assed kicked in financial work. It was then when I finally realized the true passion six inches in front of my face. Currently, I’m at the stage of meeting/finding mentors – your blog seems a good place to start.

Oh, and about getting laid, here’s an awesome quote that came to mind: “guys who think they are ‘men’ because they get women are like Don Quixotes who think they are knights because they caught windmills.”

January 8, 2012

Isaac @ 2:19 pm #

Anthony,

Thanks for chiming in, man. It’s amazing the twists and turns life can take sometimes before we find what we’re really passionate about. Sometimes I envy those who just seemed to be on a path from day one. Their life looks so simple (I know everyone has challenges, even if they’re not obvious) and every once in a while I admit that simple looks good! However, I’ve rarely seen those people do great things with their life. Not that they necessarily have a bad life, but the path well-traveled rarely leads to great rewards. Those of us who roughed it a little bit usually end up with the prize.

As for your quote, that’s a great one and I might end up stealing it down the road! I’m certainly not against getting some action *wink*, but it’s setting the bar pretty low if it’s your sole pursuit.

Cheers!

March 8, 2012

Jose @ 4:52 pm #

Great stuff, my old friend…I find great joy in your success!

March 9, 2012

Isaac @ 2:11 pm #

Hey bro, great to hear from you! We’ve had some times, haven’t we?

Don’t be a stranger. You know how to get in touch!

Isaac

March 16, 2012

Marcos Torres @ 11:22 pm #

Brother cool to have “My Story” i always enjoying reading where people are and where they are going!

March 19, 2012

Isaac @ 6:40 pm #

Marcos,

Thanks for writing in, man! It’s a constant journey, what can I say? In my mind, though, if you don’t think about where you’ve been then it’s likely that you’re going to end up repeating some things that you don’t want!

Isaac

April 17, 2012

Jim Vander Hooven @ 3:13 pm #

Awesome to see how you’ve come out on this side! Great to see you and your website looks awesome. Hope all is well.

April 19, 2012

Isaac @ 7:36 pm #

Hey Jim! Great to hear from you, and I hope all is well with you! Thanks for swinging through.

July 8, 2012

Chris K @ 3:12 pm #

Issac,

I just wanted to say congrats.

You have achieved and overcome a LOT and it says a lot about there that you put it out for the world to read.

Like Anthony, I see many similarities between our stories (I began as a trainer in NYC, bought at a gym and experienced 5 years of the greatest/worst period of my life, etc etc). I am also in the stage of seeking out mentors as well as those who share passion for what we do.

You have made a reader out of me today and I would love to compare notes on things. Drop me a line if you ever make it down to Florida and I look forward to learning more from you.

Best,

Chris

July 23, 2012

Isaac @ 4:51 pm #

Chris,

Thanks for the kind words, man. Sorry it’s taken so long to get back to you; I’m in the process of opening a facility!

There’ll be more posts coming, so keep on reading! Drop me an email or connect up with me on FB and we’ll definitely talk. There’s a strong chance I’ll be taking a trip to Florida this year.

Cheers,

Isaac

August 29, 2012

David C. @ 11:16 am #

Isaac

thanks for the “outside perspective”….I sense your being humble though! (you know)

gonna move ahead with course will be done to your new facility to see you soon

D

September 6, 2012

Isaac @ 5:56 pm #

Thanks for reading, Dave!

March 17, 2013

I Should Have Used My Name @ 10:03 pm #

Awesome story.

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