The date was March 15th, 2020.
I was asked by a co-worker to cover his Sunday afternoon classes, so he could spend the day with his father who lived in another province.
It turns out that they would be the last in-person classes I would teach to date, as the gym I worked for closed the following day due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
June 15th is another day that stands out vividly - but for two very different reasons.
Today, it marks six months of operating MAC Fitness - the culmination of my life’s work and experience in the health and fitness industry, giving me the ability to connect with clients around the globe and help them navigate the ever-changing world of health and fitness.
A year ago, it was the final day I went to work for the previously aforementioned fitness facility.
Contrary to popular belief, I didn't quit.
I was fired.
For more than two years, I was the trainer that members and co-workers relied on - usually with questions about movement patterns, exercise modifications and progression, and program implementation.
Leading up to the lockdown, I was in the process of creating a strength and conditioning program that wasn’t offered at the time, and I did so mainly because of requests from members. Even once the lockdown started, I continued developing in anticipation of the eventual re-opening.
It was based on education and fear prevention, because so many of the people I coached had a negative experience which left them avoiding important movement patterns. The initial response from members was amazing - pure excitement and eagerness to learn something new, especially after several months of working out at home.
I love to educate, so I was equally as excited and motivated. I wanted to create a program that allowed people to increase strength without the fear of re-injury.
When it came to my employers, however, I was met with indifference, passive aggressiveness and negativity.
“I’m just worried that people will enjoy your program more, so we will just keep it the way it is.”
Essentially, I was told not to rock the boat and just keep doing what I was told - which was teaching 25-30 workouts per week that I had very little say in creating.
This is an issue that I had dealt with during my entire time there, but with a major public push for something fresh and new after a three-month lockdown, I shocked to see that a small business would be willing to forego a potential revenue increase to protect fragile egos.
What made it worse was that the gym also offered yoga classes, spin classes and bodyweight-based cardio classes - all created and instructed by people with far less experience than me.
It felt personal, but still, I was willing to try and talk it out.
Despite working from home during a pandemic, teaching and actively working out in 5 virtual workouts per week, writing programs for nearly 100 clients, and creating a youth program for the kids of members who couldn't be in school, I never got that chance.
I was let go without a single productive conversation with my two employers - despite repeated requests to do so.
I woke up the next morning to a flood of “thank you”, "we will miss you" and “what the hell happened?” messages from clients and members, and I immediately felt a sense of relief and happiness.
I made a profound impact despite being stifled professionally.
I couldn't help but think: Imagine what I could do if I was my own boss?
MAC Fitness was born on that bright, sunny day - admittedly with a touch of fire and anger - but the idea wouldn’t have thrived the way it did without the help of a project manager from New York City.
Let me explain.
Several months before the pandemic started, I started chatting with a woman I knew from my hometown in Newfoundland. Despite the fact that it was on social media, it felt so unbelievably natural and easy.
We worked in different fields.
We lived in different cities. Hell, we didn’t even live in the same country!
But sparks flew immediately.
We were before our time apparently - spending hours a day on FaceTime getting to know one another, long before it became the primary option for connecting with loved ones.
Maybe it was the gift of gab instilled in us both, but I had never met anybody that I was so genuinely myself with before. I was lucky enough to travel to NYC to visit her a week before the world shut down, and from that point on I knew I had a partner for life.
When the lockdown commenced, I managed to convince her to come to Canada with me. She was a duel citizen, and she had the ability to work from anywhere and everywhere.
I knew I wanted to find a way to do the same thing.
She shared the idea of becoming a “digital nomad” - and I was instantly hooked. She not only helped me develop the business concept, she helped make sure it would be everything I dreamed it could (and should) be.
When we started working on the concept of what I wanted to offer to my members, we also planned to take some time to visit Newfoundland to see family and friends.
Looking at the recent (and in some places, current) pandemic conditions, I am so happy that we did. It was great to have the freedom to do what I wanted and see the people I loved, and I knew I wanted to create something that allowed me to have that freedom and help my clients no matter where I was.
There are plenty of fitness “professionals” out there looking to make a quick buck right now, but I knew I wanted to set myself up for longevity.
This pandemic has forced people to adapt, and it’s clear to see that there has been a seismic shift in the way people now view themselves and others around them.
I personally believe that virtual coaching isn’t going anywhere because the pandemic has not only helped people value their health and fitness, it has helped many realize that it doesn’t necessarily take a gym membership to make it happen.
For people who have invested in an at-home workout space, they likely won’t return to a gym. Still, others are foaming at the mouth for a return to iron paradise. I understand both trains of thought, so my immediate thought was to try and find a way to appeal to both.
The short answer?
Teach people how to progressively improve movement patterns, so that they can apply it no matter what type of exercises they enjoy, or where they are working out.
Movement quality has long been the most undervalued aspect of exercise. In a world of "no pain, no gain" and setting new personal records, improving how we move usually takes a back seat to what we move.
That's the reason why our motto is "Move better. Live better."
The ultimate goal of any workout routine should be longevity. The more you emphasize quality of movement, the better the odds are of maintaining it throughout your entire life.
Regardless of where you work out, proper program execution takes planning and guidance. Assessing your strengths and areas for opportunity is crucial in making sure that the routine is built around your goals.
MAC Fitness is designed to change what you thought you knew about health and fitness. It truly is made to help simplify the process of getting into better shape, and maintaining it forever.
With a library of more than 60 onDemand workout videos, accompanying PDFs that can be modified to suit your available equipment and guidance from your very own virtual personal trainer, MAC Fitness is here to guide you through the process of moving better, feeling better and living better.
Learn more about memberships here.
As much as I'm sure that people are eager to put the pandemic in their rearview mirror, I genuinely hope that in time, more people will look back and reflect on it with some sort of positivity.
Even more so, I hope that everyone is able to recognize anything that they may have taken for granted.
I certainly did.
The biggest thing that I took away from the last 16 months is that I wasn’t as happy as I thought I was.
I wasn’t happy in a previous relationship.
I wasn’t happy working somewhere that didn’t allow me to be myself.
I wasn't valuing myself - I was settling for less than I was worth.
I’ve always been a big believer in everything happening for a reason. I truly believe that had it not been for the pandemic, I never would have met the love of my life.
I wouldn’t have started my own business.
And I likely would still be just as unhappy working in a place that didn’t allow me to be me - even if I didn't realize it.
Isolation gave me an opportunity to be truly introspective about my life.
Ironically enough, on another evening I fell down a social media rabbit hole (it happened more than once during the pandemic, I'll admit) and I came across a video of Jim Carrey giving a commencement speech, in which he talked about his father being his inspiration for becoming a comedian. One line really stuck with me:
“... you could fail at what you don't want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
The impact of that one line was profound. I certainly come from a place where more often than not, people tend to choose the "safe route" instead of taking a chance on following their true passion.
Starting your own business is scary.
Putting yourself out there is scary.
But every time I receive a "thank you" or any sort of appreciation message from current/former clients, I'm reminded of why I chose to do what I am doing.
Its rewarding beyond measure and it makes me truly happy.
And I'm just getting started.