Friday, October 1, 2010

...aLL i eVer rEaLLy nEEdEd tO kNoW i LeaRnEd fRoM wEs...

There's a book called "All I Ever Really Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten" by Robert Fulghum. I have often thought that I learned all I ever really needed to know inside the walls of a gym...or outside on a track...or in a park on a trail. I learned them from the man that once pushed me hard in that gym...and held the stopwatch as I ran on that track...and ran beside me on my favorite trail at the park...a man that can still inspire and encourage me from over a thousand miles away. That man's name is Wes.

Wes and I were an unlikely pair. Wes was much younger than me and a talented athlete. He was handsome and good at everything he did. Everyone likes Wes and he has the ability to command respect like no one I've ever met since. I was a mother of three and my life was in a rut. I had lost 75 lbs but I was not yet comfortable in my own skin. I was bored and felt inept at most everything I did. We were forced together for a free training session in the gym I had joined when the women only gym I went to went out of business. I had NO interest and did not think I needed a trainer...and he did not act excited at the prospect of training just another Mom. I gave in to the pressure from the gym mgr at the time that was tired of seeing me come in the gym and spend 2 hours using every single machine in the gym, every single day of the week. I decided that I would just take the free session and "get it over with" so I didn't have to hear it again. Wes did his job and gave me a free session...never expecting me to actually sign up for more.

I think we both surprised each other. Wes is tough. He pushed me...hard...harder than I've ever been pushed that first day...and in the days and months to follow. I responded and did what he told me. I gave him everything I had and never stopped. He was my coach...and in time became my friend. Over the next year, he taught me things that have shaped me...things that have helped me rise to my true potential...not just INSIDE the gym...but in my personal life as well. The "old me" died in the year I spent training with him and a "new me" was born...the "me" that I was always meant to be.

Wes taught me that most of my limitations are self imposed. He taught me to stop saying "I can't" and try. Nothing comes easy for me and so at times I had to try over and over and over again...but eventually I would knock a wall down that had once held me back. With every wall that I knocked down, my limitations became fewer and my accomplishments became greater. I did things wasn't comfortable with...things I had never done before and never expected dragging and flipping tires and swinging a kettlebell. My confidence in and out of the gym multiplied.

Wes taught me to laugh at myself. When I was in my 20s, I was always embarrassed. I lacked the ability to find humor in my short my mistakes. If I tripped and fell...I was devastated. I would cry and close myself off. There were many times that I did things that I once would've found humiliating, but with Wes I felt safe. He helped free me from that awful feeling I once felt and taught me to laugh and move on.

Wes taught me that everyone needs a friend. When I met Wes, I was very lonely. I've never had a lot of girlfriends. Most of my friends growing up were guys...and that got complicated once I got married. I had closed myself off and held everyone at arms length. I kept most people around me as acquaintances and never really opened myself up to anyone. I didn't think that I was worthy of true friendship and let very few people really come inside my life. Not only did Wes become my friend...a person that I could talk to and text and share my life with...but he helped build the confidence and self love in me to realize that I am worthy of friendship. He never gave up on me...ever...whether I was humble or had an ego...whether I was focused or difficult...he believed in and out of the gym. That in turn has helped me learn that no one should ever be counted out...that everyone deserves another chance.

Wes taught me that I can do whatever I set my mind to. I never played a sport in my life before I met him. P.E. class was torture for me my entire life growing up. I am awkward and clumsy and nothing athletic comes naturally to me. He once sd to me when I was "warming up"..."Holy Shit! I've never seen anyone do jumping jacks WRONG before!"...and in case you are wondering...yes, you can in fact do them wrong. None of that mattered. Wes didn't cut me a break or give me any excuses. He taught me and then it was my job to keep on working until I got it down. This has helped me succeed in many areas of my life since then. I don't give up or count myself out just because I'm not good at something because I know that eventually, I will be successful.Wes taught me that failing does not make me a failure. I am such a perfectionist that I don't like to do things that I am not good at and so I avoided many things up until I met him...and if I did try and fail...I would hate myself and never try again. That was not an option in the gym with Wes...and neither was feeling sorry for myself. Some days, we would abort the mission and move on...but I never got out of trying again. He worked with me on dead hang pullups the entire time I trained with him and I never got one...but he never stopped trying and shortly after he moved away...I got it and he was the first person I wanted to tell. He was thrilled because my successes were his successes too.

Wes taught me respect...for myself and others. He taught me to trust. He taught me that sometimes it's okay to give up control and allow someone else to help. When he would train me and I would literally think at times that I might die...I knew I could keep going...because I knew I could trust him. When I thought I couldn't and he said "YOU CAN!"...I believed him and he never lied to me. The mental toughness that I found has gotten me through things that I never thought possible...things that even he does not know about.

I was a scared, lonely, weak person when I met Wes and I blossomed into the confident, friendly, strong woman that was trapped inside me all along. The lessons I learned from him in the gym, have forever changed my life. I have often thought about how different my life is because of my time with Wes. At times, I feel bad because I feel like he gave me so much more than I ever gave him and I know that there is no way to ever really repay him. So, I try to continue to grow and do the things he taught me as a way of paying respect to him and I do my best everyday to "pay it forward" and try to help others the way he helped me.



  1. Thank you for sharing, very inspiring.
    I think many of us can relate to alot of your feelings but are too chicken to own up to those emotions.
    Thank you for letting us know we're not alone.

  2. Amazing Marsha... really inspiring! I'm a friend of Adam's and he just sent this link to me. Isn't it amazing how when people believe in us, we not only believe in ourselves, but then are able to show others how to do the same? Its a chain reaction... Really beautiful.. thanks for sharing. :)


  3. Thank you Jodi. That means more than you know. Everything I write is from my heart and soul. Some are more personal than others...this one was extremely personal...but I always feel a bit like a girl that has left her diary open for the world to read. It truly is a chain reaction. I would have never become a trainer if after he was gone, Wes had not encouraged me to do so. Now the student is the teacher and it is an amazing feeling. I'm really glad that you enjoyed reading it. :)

  4. beautiful story Marsha and so much of what you said about yourself is me, you are an inspiration.

  5. Well said. Thanks for sharing. We all need someone like him in our life. Where can I find him??? :)

  6. Dear, dear Marsha, you and i are more alike than you will ever know! At least we used to be! The way you describe yourself 'pre-Wes'....that is me. To a T. I'm looking for my Wes. I really, really need my Wes! Having you to look to for inspiration is such a blessing to me. I really appreciate all that you have shared with the world. I hope someday I can inspire someone to do something great with themselves and for others! Love you!

  7. Yes Sue...I agree..everyone should have a Wes! I just wish he didn't live so far from me now!

    Thanks Michelle! I've heard it said before that trainers and their clients are more alike than the clients realize. I know how it feels to struggle and I know how it feels to succeed. It's a journey that never really just changes...and you will get where you want to be. You are an amazing person and I love you right back!

  8. Thank you so much for writing this! I second Michelle's comments exactly other than I've been lucky enough to have a few Wes's in my life. Thank you for your inspiration and sharing your personal journal with us. I know that takes a lot of courage but I think you've helped/inspired more women than you know.

  9. Yes I need a Wes too!! The way you describe yourself before Wes - well thats exactly like me. I'm a PT and I often feel that all the other PTs in the gym are way better than me and I'm the odd one out who doesn't quite belong. I've always struggled with my self esteem and making friends and generally just getting to know people. So thank you for the inspiration - I'm definitely gonna try harder with the confidence thing - I won't let it beat me anymore!!!