Bear with me, this is a bit of a self-congratulatory blog, but still related to fitness.
I finished my bachelor’s degree in exercise science at the age of 38 last December, and while you do not need a bachelor’s to be a personal trainer, I am so glad I furthered my education and pushed myself to do something that was beyond my comfort zone for a number of years. The biggest lesson I learned as an adult going back to school is that by simply showing up and participating as best we can, we can finish what we started and complete a seemingly overwhelming goal.
Let’s back up to when I was 18 in my senior year of high school. I had no clue what I wanted to. I was also struggling with my identity as a young gay man. I was not in a great place to decide what I wanted to do the rest of my life. I began in nursing school at Purdue University and changed my major to computer science, English, and then eventually dropped out. I worked for years doing coffee shop gigs and held down some office jobs doing some menial work in cubicles. I started working out regularly at a gym downstairs from my office on Wilshire and felt the positive effects that exercise had on both my mind and body. I decided I wanted to help others feel this same way too.
The next step was to get certified as a personal trainer. I got my ACE certification after completing a 12-week course online through a local community college. It was tough, and it was actually taught remotely by a professor from Purdue. I was living in California at the time, so this was exciting. I watched the lectures after work and completed the studies. I took the exams and passed. I still worked my office job for years before I actually was able to go and coach others in a gym.
I started working at 24 Hour Fitness while deciding I wanted to finish my bachelor’s degree. I took more courses at Pasadena City College for about a year and a half part time before transferring to California State University Los Angeles. It was tough and a shock to be on campus again. I did not always do my best in my courses, but eventually I got back into the groove, completed all the work and transferred. I had to complete courses that I thought I might not finish, but I showed up, did the work and talked to professors when I was struggling. Sure, I may be able to do better if I did it again, but I learned so much about myself. I learned to not give up. I learned that showing up, having the right attitude, and engaging got me through it. No, I did not get A’s in quantitative chemistry, but I learned what I needed and completed the courses.
I am grateful for the opportunity to return to school as an adult. My degree has given me a better insight on how the human body functions, but more than anything it has taught me that we are capable of so much. There were days I struggled and didn’t think I’d complete a chemistry or physics course, but I showed up and participated as best as I could and finished the degree. I am proud of that piece of paper, and I am also excited to use that knowledge and ability to persist to help others.