Faith Made Him Fit for Life
A personal trainer discovers that well-being depends on spiritual, as well as physical, health.
One look at me, and you can probably guess my profession. I’m a big, strong guy, a former bodybuilding champ. Today I’m a successful personal trainer, helping get thousands in shape, from teenagers and housewives to Diana Ross and Joan Lunden.
I operate my own gym and I work out every day myself, trying to keep my 40-something body in shape. But not long ago I learned there’s more to being fit than being in shape physically. I learned that a fit body is nothing without a fit soul.
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In fact, until I learned this lesson, the more successful I became, the more overcome I was by a fear of failure, a fear that was destroying my life.
I had always looked upon my body as a temple, though not of the soul, necessarily. In high school, I spent days, weeks, months pumping iron and practicing exercises in Jack LaLanne fitness magazines.
I was a star of my high school basketball team, and I planned to do the same in college. After that who knew how far I could go? It made me giddy just to dream about it.
I enrolled at Pace University in New York and tried out for the basketball team, fully expecting to make it as a starter. Instead, the coach cut me before the season began. The shock and rejection were bad enough. But the unfamiliar thing I felt was fear.
I wasn’t a good student. Outside of basketball, I had no marketable skills. What do I do now? I wondered. The whole drive home to my parents’, I repeated that question again and again.
At home I went down to the basement, where I kept all my weights, and began lifting like crazy, frantically. I’m a failure, I told myself, a failure, a failure, as I hefted that iron in the air until my muscles screamed. If I’m not an athlete, who am I?
I couldn’t hide my shame forever. My parents could see how shattered I was. Dad tried to comfort me. “Dominic, don’t be afraid to turn to the Lord for help,” he said.
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My parents were devout, but it had not rubbed off on me. The only strength I knew was my physical strength, and that had failed me.
Or had it? I heard that Springfield College in Massachusetts offered a major in health fitness, so I transferred there. It was perfect. Sports related, but not exactly sports. By the time I graduated, the fitness craze was hitting the country big time. Everyone was looking for trainers.
Clients liked me. I was a good motivator, probably because I was so motivated myself, though I had yet to understand what was behind my motivation. I was positively driven. Word spread, and within a year I was busy seven days a week, working 12 to 16 hours a day.
Every thought I had, every relationship I pursued, served one purpose: to build my business. Within seven years, I had a nice car and townhouse, a bunch of employees and my own gym.
I must have felt on top of the world, right? In fact, I was petrified. What if competitors come in and cut away at my business? What if I have a bad month or two and can’t make a bank payment? What if...what if I fail? It was that same fear from college all over again. It had taken root deep inside me.
The only way to fight it was to work like a madman. Up every day at 4:00 A.M., and didn’t return till late at night to my townhouse I’d never even finished furnishing.