Since graduating university (also post grad at college) and getting certified, my career goal was to build my business into one of the top training companies across the province. It all started rather odd believe it or not as the idea came from a conversation I had with my girlfriend. She thought a good side income would be personal training and that I should get a business card to go along with that. I thought about it and decided that I wouldn’t just want my own name as the selling point for my training. I wanted the possibility for growth to be there, just in case. We laughed for hours at all the goofy names or boring ones that would be my proposed business. Finally, at 2:36 AM sometime in late April, I sprang from bed and rushed to design the name that would be my company. It was at that moment that Iron Athletics Canada was created. It was also at this point in time I imagined all the possibilities that could go along with it. I was pumped to say the least. Although excited, I couldn’t forget the other dreams I had, particularly the one I’ve been striving toward for almost a decade. Being an Olympic wrestling champion.
For the first few months, I only had work to focus on. Grow the brand, grow the business, provide the best service to my clientele. That’s it. Surgery recovery made it easy to focus on the company as it was the only thing I could do. But as I healed and got stronger, I became more and more aware of the balance that would need to come very soon in order for me to achieve both dreams. I had many concerns. How would I be able to train twice a day if the majority of my clients were only available before and after the typical 9 to 5 hours? I could obviously go in extra early and get my individual training done, but what about practice times? I have clients that need me on weekends, so how do I go to tournaments? If I have to cut weight, will I be able to provide the best service still? If I work as a strength coach, can I still train at the level I need to in order to succeed? How do I balance being a strength coach AND a high level athlete? It is evident that I can’t survive on just one of them. If I am just an athlete, I will lose money. If I am just a coach, I will lose my mind (I need to be in the heat of things still). Simple.
As I write this, I am still trying to work things through. But I have come to realize the difference in perspective now that I am no longer an undergrad. Right now, I am a business owner. Although small, I own something that I started, built and am making successful. I attribute a huge part of that to my success as an athlete. So if being an athlete can compliment my success as a strength coach, why can’t me being a strength coach compliment my success as an athlete? My education has taught me how to train in the most effective manner in order to be successful as an athlete, so why not use it for me? Now that I have the resources I can not only better my clients, but myself as well. I have everything I need, I just have to organize and schedule EVERYTHING in advance and be flexible.
Although I am no longer burdened with school work or dependencies that tie me to a strict schedule, I still have to be understanding and flexible. My clients are a top priority. They need me to make time for them. Obviously if I can’t, I not only lose trust but I also lose money. So although I can make my own schedule, it still is very strict in it’s own way. What it comes down to is flexibility and smarter training. As a student athlete, you would pick classes, and have that time slot for the semester. You know for 4 months where and when to be. You know when morning training is and when evening practices are. Although not always as flexible, class times could be made to work around most practice sessions. For me, my schedule constantly changes. Some clients may know their schedules weeks in advance, others may not know until the day of. Flexibility is key. What does this mean for me? Well, being a senior athlete I must train smarter. If I can’t make the morning times due to work, I will train earlier on my own. If I am stuck with a meeting or client time during practice hours, I must choose wisely which one and then make it up. I can’t spend the whole time at a training camp? I stay as long as possible and take an earlier flight back. It won’t be easy, but I must be flexible.
I understand that I am merely trying to foreshadow how I hope my upcoming season will go, but it’s the only plan I have. I have to understand that things may not always go as planned, but I will adjust as necessary. That being said, I must point out how important a support system is. I can’t do these things on my own and I hope I wouldn’t have to. You need a support team. Parents, spouses, friends, coaches, teammates. They will be there to support you. My girlfriend knows I have really busy days and when those happen she takes care of our home. She’s tired from work and wants to rest too but she knows what this means to me. We work as a team therefore it works. Coaches and teammates are important as well. I may need a training partner in the early hours of the day because I can’t make a practice, so I need a teammate willing to get up early or stay late. Coaches can understand being an athlete and an adult working may conflict at times. They can offer support and give you as much information in advance to help you with your organization. They know you don’t want to miss practices (I would hope you wouldn’t anyway) and want to see you succeed. Turn to them for help. They may not always be happy about it, but at least you are being up front about everything.
All this sounds good and everything, but the reality is it is tough. I am just getting started with this new balance and I already know how exhausting this journey will get. But that’s the price I am willing to pay in order to be successful. Correction, that’s the price myself, my girlfriend, my mom, my coaches and my teammates are willing to pay in order to be successful. Sacrifice, but not without support. Because of this, it is important to really evaluate your priorities. What I mean by that is before you put yourself through all the stress ask yourself: is this what I really want? Is this what I wake up wanting to be successful at? If it is, then prepare for an intense ride. If not, don’t do it. Save yourself the headache. I haven’t even started yet and I know it’s gonna be hard. But again, it is worth it to me. If it isn’t to you, then pick the one that is. I don’t just mean being an athlete and a working citizen, but anything that requires balance. Anything from family, to music, to career or lack there of. If both are important to you, you will find a way. Need help? Ask. Reach out to those closest for support and guidance. If it means a lot to you, I guarantee they will make an effort to help. They want to see you succeed just as much as you do.
So before you panic, evaluate your priorities and triple check your calendars. Sacrifices will be made, but the best will come of it. Be flexible, but also diligent. Even though I am not in the thick of things yet, I truly believe a balance can be achieved and both goals reached. I don’t see any reason to give up both. Not yet.