Growing up I was never athletic. Granted, I wasn’t hopelessly un-athletic, I was just “average.” Often, when it came time to pick teams, I was never the first one picked, nor the last one; rather I always fell right in the middle. I had to endure the humiliating “school-yard selection committee” most elementary and middle school kids face daily, where you realize your place in the schoolyard pecking order. It was always a process, but back then I was just grateful that I landed “somewhere in the middle.” At the age of 10, I realized that my peers saw me as “average.” As a result, I had a “mediocre mindset,” that defined me for a good portion of my life. Because of this, I resigned myself to the belief that for the rest of my life, I would always be “ordinary” in the eyes of my peers.
Throughout my twenties, I had an on-again-off-again relationship with the gym. I sporadically worked out and had this delusional idea that I was healthy. I was a member of various chain gyms where there was never enough equipment, the atmosphere was intimidating and everyone seemed to be standoffish and competitive. When I actually exercised, I practiced a misinformed fitness regime that consisted solely of working “vanity muscles.” My routine was very standard: bicep curls, chest press, triceps extensions, some shoulder shrug (in the squat rack of course) and a set of military press. There was never any conditioning or core work in my routine, plus I would ignore “leg day.” This routine lasted for years, and I convinced myself that it worked for me.
In my thirties, I spiraled down a pathway of lethargy and succumbed to incorrect/bad eating habits. I needed something to ignite my motivation to exercise, but had little confidence in my ability to do this on my own. More so (If I’m being honest), I really didn’t know how. My wife, Amanda was training with Alicia at this new gym in Rumford called “212 Health and Performance” and suggested on numerous occasions that I should give it a try. I was reluctant at first, but eventually decided to sign up for a six week program. The first session at 212 was humbling to say the least! With just one session at 212, it was clear to me that I knew very little about fitness and I certainly wasn’t as fit as I thought. More importantly, I realized I couldn’t do this on my own. I needed a coach/mentor and I found one in Sean St. Onge.
My first experience meeting Sean was memorable. He was this outgoing, friendly, funny, warm, knowledgeable, gregarious, guy that immediately made me feel welcome. He sat down with me and went over my goals and expectations. Because I was never involved with organized sports, I never had anyone who served as a coach/mentor to me. Very quickly, I realized that every trainer at 212 is truly invested in, and committed to, the members. This is something I have never experienced before and for the first time in my life, I felt like I was part of “something special.”
Initially, I started out just doing small groups with Sean. Over the course of a few months, Sean introduced me to new techniques, exercises and movements that prior to joining; I would have never imagined I’d be able to do. In addition, I saw that there was a variety of classes to choose from at 212, but I was intimidated to try. Eventually, I got the courage to go to my first class. I was pleasantly surprised to see members of varying ability levels, shapes, sized and ages really getting after it. The support, encouragement and infectious enthusiasm I immediately received from the coaches and members, really helped develop my confidence and inspired me to “do more better.” Fast forward six years: Whether it’s a “Nuts and Bolts” class, circuit, HIIT, Kettlebell class or (my new favorite) boxing, I try to “pay it forward” and be that member who encourages and supports the “newbie” who may feel intimidated, nervous or unsure about what they got themselves into.
Every coach at 212 had gone above and beyond the traditional role of a trainer. They go out of their way to help you reach your true potential and are always willing to offer guidance and support. Whether it’s nutrition advice from Alicia (sorry for all the texts during the Superhero program!) or Colin putting a heavier weight in front of me during a class, the coaches at 212 have always been there for me. For instance, I wanted to be part of the first Superhero Program in the fall of 2016, but earlier that summer, I had a partial meniscus tear in my right knee and was hesitant to commit to this 12 week program. I brought this to Kerry and Sean’s attention and they encouraged me to try it, stating, “I was in good hands.” Throughout the program, they modified certain exercises and constantly checked-in to see how I was holding up. More importantly, they made me believe that regardless of my injuries (and there has been a few over the years), I was capable of reaching my goals. Because of this type of support and encouragement, I not only met and exceeded my goals, but also gained the confidence to do the program a second time, (only six weeks removed from knee surgery). It’s this level of commitment from the coaches at 212 that sets it apart from all other gyms. Not only do they encourage you to “get outside of your comfort zone,” but they give you the tools to do so.
Most importantly, 212 continues to be an important part of my family’s life. Making time for the gym is a priority that my wife and I build into our weekly schedule. Granted, it’s not easy to get to the gym when we work, have a three year old (and another child on the way), don’t live in town, and have numerous other responsibilities to attend too. However, what motivates both Amanda and I to stay consistent with the gym is we want to install in our daughter Charlotte, the values that we constantly revisit with every session at 212: working hard, setting high (but realistic) expectations and achieving personal goals. My hope is that by being a role model who is present, supportive, and involved my daughter will develop into a strong, empowered, and confident young woman who isn’t fearful of failure (but can learn from it).
Most importantly, I want Charlotte to see that you don’t have to be someone who is “extraordinary” to live an extraordinary life. Ordinary people, (just like her dad) with the right guidance, support system, and motivation can achieve extraordinary things.
In closing, I want to take this opportunity to personally thank every trainer, member, and staff at 212 Health and Performance that helped me be the best version of myself. Never could I imagine that at 46 years old, I’d be stronger, healthier, and more active than I’ve ever been. It’s safe to say that I’m in the best shape of my life. Thanks to all the coaches at 212 for helping me slay the mediocre mindset that has been holding me back all these years. I finally realized that and ordinary guy can sometimes do extraordinary things.