Things have become challenging.
It was easy to perceive a perfect reality for my first couple months here in Fort Collins. Expenses were little to none, work was hard but enjoyable, and great company surrounded me. Now, on the other side of WWOOFing for two months, it’s back to the realities of being a person in today’s world. These past couple days, I’ve gotten my butt whooped.
Bills are coming in. Expenses are piling up. I am watching my bank account go the direction I do not want it to go. I am having to make big lifestyle adjustments — no more coffee shops, no more eating out, little to no entertainment outings. I have to keep my overhead low at the moment. It’s a struggle. Food is expensive. Health care is expensive. One of my roommates left one day for an Indian Reservation in Arizona and has not come back, and so rent has gone up. The apartment gets quite cold. Loud cars drive by the busy road right out my window all day and night. A large dog upstairs barks quite often, including right now. Several burners on the stove don’t work. The shower drain is clogged and will not seem to unclog, despite my roommate’s noble efforts.
The job I landed is at a gym in town. It’s a gym with many fantastic amenities. No need to mention the name. It is an extremely laid back gig at the moment; as a result, I am making very little money. I realize that having a consistent paycheck to cover all expenses and supply surplus for saving is very nice. It alleviates a lot of stress. I feel financial stress creeping back. I hear voices in my head saying, “What are you doing? How dumb were you to leave your job? Did you think everything was just going to fall magically into place?”
I have let worries get the best of me lately. Today, they took me to a dark place of despair. I ran up a trail to Horsetooth Reservoir in order to circumvent them, and the majesty of the mountains reminded me to be humble, loving, and grateful. This is the reality I chose. These are the consequences.
But still, that’s consenting to the negative. That is not the only way to see these realities.
The truth is, I do not plan to sit sedentary at this low-paying gym job, where my primary responsibilities are to check in guests, maintain cleanliness in the facility, and answer questions as they arise. That affords a lot of open time on the job. Those who trained me said they typically read or just sit there bored. I saw this as an opportunity. Thus, I have made a career decision. I am going to pursue my personal training certification.
It’s an idea I had at the outset that I allowed to settle into the background. I convinced myself I did not want to do it. I saw myself in a gym for 40 hours a week and felt sad. But lately I realized this need not be the case. Lately I realized that my being in the gym environment gives me a tremendous opportunity. I will be able to do most of my studying while on the clock, thus maximizing the efficiency of my time.
I spent the better part of the last four weeks picking the brains of trainers and colleagues about the best certification agency, as there are at least ten different paths one can go in becoming a CPT, each offering something different and bearing a unique reputation. I listened to the trends, read as much as I could online, and ultimately recognized that the best program for me was NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine), which the head trainer at my gym described as “the gold standard in the industry.” This is not an absolute. But it’s consistently highly regarded, and it’s good for people with no exercise science background like myself. Further, I have decided to do a supplementary accreditation through NASM for Group Fitness Training, for I feel this opens many possibilities that I will explain shortly.
On top of the gym gig, I have landed some freelance writing gigs. They do not pay a lot, but they pay, and they are very fun. Being able to study for my NASM CPT while working opens so much more time for writing. I am extremely excited about a relationship I am forming with a magazine out of Boulder—I will elaborate more once the first piece I am writing for them goes live. Thanks to good ole Fort Collins, this all got started with beer writing through a beer blog called HopCulture, which published this piece I wrote about attending the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. I never would have been able to establish these contacts on my own. So many great people of my past and present have helped me, and I am extremely grateful for them.
Ultimately, I see writing and training coming together. I see each of them as energized with infinite potential. I am currently serving as the Health/Wellness editor for Entropy Magazine, and I intend to channel the knowledge I gain into many pieces. (By the way, if you have interest in doing any Health/Wellness writing [purposely vague], please send me pitches/content at firstname.lastname@example.org.) While I see myself beginning my personal training journey in the gym setting, I envision it expanding a great deal. I am investing in the Group Fitness Training accreditation because I want to guide groups outside. I want to engage with the elements in dynamic workouts that promote functional fitness and general wellness. I want to run into the woods and find boulders to lift and logs to press overhead. I want to help form communities around such activities in exuberant life embrace, doing all I can to help people out of ruts in their life. Ultimately, this has always been the goal behind Alternate Pathways. Though things are a bit of a struggle at the moment, I trust still in this inner voice, this higher self, this presence of the divine guiding me on this unexpected path.
Struggles abound, and struggles will continue to abound. All along, this endeavor has been about sacrifice for the sake of living a more purposeful, honest life. I am being drawn to greater honesty every day. I don’t want to sugar coat this for you. It’s difficult. There are many fears and doubts that grow as the path continues. But still, more often than not, I look at the mountains in the distance, and I think, “There is no other place in the world I would rather be.”