As I sit here with the notepad open on my iPod getting ready to spill my thoughts on my flight headed back to California, I realize I have no idea how to wrangle them all in a way that makes sense. As Ellie Goulding’s “Halycon” album plays in my ear, I’m reaching for the proper verbiage that can accurately express the impact I not only had on the great state of Minnesota, but more so the impact it had on me.
I went to Minnesota with many purposes and several goals at the forefront of my circus brain. I know there was a lot expected of me, yet none even dare hold a candle to the expectations I have of myself.
Before I continue further I feel it extremely important to express to you, the reader who I humbly appreciate taking time out of your life to care about what I have to say, in on something that most people may not know… As I boarded that plane in San Francisco last Friday, I had a certain feeling I tend to hide away from the world. An emotion I have often yet try not to show too often. Every day I feel this at some point or another in varying degrees for various reasons, but this day was the most intense I’d felt this in a long, long time…
I was absolutely terrified. Scared out of my mind. Beyond any words that I could possibly pull out of my scrabble bag of eccentricity to try to guide your brain into understanding exactly how I felt as they called for boarding group 4 to step onto that 10:30am flight.
Understand that to me, I am but a former fat kid from little ol’ Windsor California who has nothing but a big dream of changing the world and empty pockets that match my acceptance for failure. I am a broken man who, in the grand scheme of things, has figured out very little. In my 26 years on Earth I have come to understand that the more I broaden my horizon the bigger my hard drive for “life data” becomes. Essentially, the more I think I know, the less I truly do.
In every speaking engagement I have ever done and will ever do, I am careful to remind everyone that I am merely an ambassador. A representative for the many, not an isolated individual furthering myself from the pack. The things I have accomplished are small potatoes compared to some stories, but much like I accept everyone’s mountain to climb as their own, I hope everyone does the same for me.
With that said, I am nowhere NEAR the top of my climb, but you better goddamn believe I’m going to continue to climb with the strength of a silverback gorilla and the terror of an animal just trying to survive.
What I HAVE figured out is this; it’s COMPLETELY ok not to be ok. I have found that in transparency there is truth. In this lies remnants of what I feel is lost in this world… A tribal bond. I want nothing more than to climb my mountain with as many rebel souls that are willing. I’ve found that in putting my palms out and showing my scars, it gives permission for others to do the same.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s excruciating every single time I share all of me with everyone. There has not been one instance in which I have stood in front of a group of people and bared my soul, shared my experience with bulimia, depression, self mutilation, and bullying where I haven’t reverted to that scared boy who still lives inside my heart. I imagine my heart as Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon’s closet beneath the stairs, and that little boy is Harry Potter; scarred yet powerful.
Why do it then? My give everything I’ve got to strangers I’ve never met? Why go through hellfire day in and day out as people ask me about my past and wonder about my future? What is the reasoning behind reliving the pain this lifetime has shared with me?
Because I am FAR from the only one. With every opportunity I have to share my journey, I get a chance to peep into the souls of people just like me… damaged and just trying to make it. So what makes me different? What makes me special? I’ll tell you… I am relentlessly unapologetic to a fault for who I am and what I believe in and I just so happen to be really fucking loud about it.
Most people know that one of the most endearing and near-to-my-heart monikers I’ve ever had the honor of being bestowed with has been being referred to as a “Nerd Superhero.” It means everything to me because that means I’m the guy who *I* looked up to when I felt hopeless, and still do even though I’m overflowing with hope nowadays.
The guy who stands for good. The guy who has built himself into a machine beyond his wildest dreams who rather than use his newfound power for revenge and self-absorption instead fights for the ones who don’t know how fix themselves but want to more than anything. These “superpowers” have given a voice to the voiceless. An AHHHOOOOO to those who only know a hanging head and settling-for-sad comfort zones.
Now lets get to what had me so terrified in the first place… In the 5 days I was in cold ass Minnesota, I was tasked with the following:
1) kick off a community challenge of 168 participants in Litchfield followed by a boot camp with the goal of not only getting everyone PUMPED on this 3 month health and wellness endeavor, but getting through to those who don’t really feel they belonged there. Igniting the heart and souls of those who feel alone and not only reminding them how important it is to take their mind and body back, but more importantly showing them they are not alone. They don’t have to feel isolated anymore. There IS a spot in this world for them. The fitness rebellion.
2) speaking at a meat processing plant in St. James to blue collar employees on their lunch break with the same goal in mind as Litchfield, but on a more personal scale. I sat with these amazing people on one of their most cherished hours of the day and watched their defiance turn to a planted seed before my very eyes. They had NO idea I was coming thus had no idea who I was. All they knew was here was some long haired Californian who was about to talk about fitness. Only that’s not what I talked about… I talked about pain.
I reminded everyone they HAVE A CHOICE. You are met with crossroads every single day of your life… Which road do you take? The smoothest that leads nowhere or the rough one with the ultimate destination: self worth. That was the seed I planted. I watched it grow and blossom in a mere 60 minutes time. They came in feeling like “just get this over with kid” (I know because they told me) and left by signing up for a tour of the local gym, shaking my hand, and asking how they can be a part of the rebellion.
3) Launching a rebel program in New Ulm that is run exactly as described above making it exactly like our down home Santa Rosa rebels. Drew and Lori are the rebel leaders tasked with hoisting their own shovels high with a rebel yell, spreading the rebellion message in a way where everyone understands they are a part of something breathtakingly huge. With their spray painted banners and infinite compassion, they led the charge right there with me. I spoke for 45 minutes to the pack of 21 daring individuals before leading a 40 minute boot camp with these awe-inspiring rebel leaders and I can tell you… Look out for these two. It is impossible for them to fail because they care just as much as I do. They have the same heart and compassion, and absorbed every bit of what I HAVE figured out coupled with a program I KNOW works because I have meticulously designed it for years. After the boot camp, they had 7 new sign ups. My first challenge ended with 5.
4) I was asked to be a guest speaker at an alternative learning school in front of 2 groups of about 100 young adults. I spoke once at 10am and again at 1pm. These kids truly know the exact pain I’ve been through. Most have stories and experiences I choose not to share for the sake of privacy for these amazing young adults. As I calmed the butterflies I always get before I speak, I pushed the podium they gave me to the side because that was the antithesis of why I was there. I stood in front of these youth (as a youth myself) who know nothing but rejection and defiance, and I opened up my chest cavity and exposed EVERYTHING. I told them every graphic detail of my journey (mixed with my own brand of humor that they thankfully found funny) and pleaded that if they walked away with ANYTHING from what I had to say then I wished it to be this; that every single one of us knows true pain, they are not alone, and it’s never too late to love yourself. I begged them to understand that their body was the plane and their brain was the pilot, and THEY were in control… We always have a choice. I concluded with a squat exercise I do
with rebels back in my neck of the woods to show them that if they can physically dig deeper then why couldn’t they mentally and emotionally? Afterwards I was swarmed by these teens who are normally used to rejection as we all bonded together, took pictures, exchanged Facebook pages, and simply laughed. Together. As one unified group. I heard “you’re the BEST speaker we’ve ever had! You changed my life man… I never knew I was so strong…” enough to make me shed tears that night quietly as I recollected on how much they will NEVER know how much that meant to me (I hope some of you are reading this). The higher ups in charge of the school said they have never seen any of this group listen so intently. They’d never seen these young adults participate with one another so happily before. They’ve been known to eat guest speakers alive, but not me… I said “well, it’s because I represent real life and give them permission to hurt and make it acceptable to hug it out with someone rather than take it out on someone. They accepted every bit of me because I accepted every bit of them.” Afterwards I was interviewed by the local paper who said they’d never seen someone do what I did in that room before…
5) That night In St. James, the very town where that meat processing plant was that I spoke at the day prior, I was all set to kick off ANOTHER rebel boot camp pilot program with the amazing Beth Henderson and Jill Augustin (another original rat pack member). Marv and Jill Augustin are the owners of the two clubs that we were launching these rebellions at, and were not only vital to me being there in the first place but showed me more hospitality than any “thank you” gift or string of heartfelt words could ever relay. They were also the ones who introduced me to Beth, a fireball of energy who just like Drew and Lori has the heart of a lion and the soul of a rebel. A true rebel leader through and through, she is most certainly another amazing person you are sure to hear more about. With her fantastic partner-in-crime Kristin, they had their shovel all ready to be raised and praised in front of the group of 22 “ruffians” who showed up, ready to get down with the get down. My warm-up was an interview with a local reporter by the name of Tyson as to why I was there. Their warm-up was me speaking to them about the revolution they were leading and didn’t even know while heavily being sprinkled with the essence of all the things I wrote about above. After 45 minutes, we got into some rebel planks and exploded from there. My GOD these people rocked it! I saw the same things I’d seen in Litchfield, at the processing plant, at Riverbend School, and New Ulm… The fierce tenacity of human spirit grasping at this newfound empowerment with everything they had. Afterwards, everyone gathered around and shared stories of how hard-yet-amazing what they just took part in truly was as I grabbed Jill by the shoulders and quietly said “you see what’s happening?” Her response was deafening in its simplicity…
Now that I have chronicled my Minnesota memoirs in a way that I think BARELY does any of this justice, this is what I want you to take away from the novel you just read;
I was terrified, but I put myself out there with everything I had. I took my passion and dream for a world I truly believe can be better and stared failure in the face as my butterflies turned to fireworks. I had something I wanted to do, and I sprinted towards it with everything I had damning the possibility of letting people down because if I let THAT fear control me then I would have accomplished NONE of the miracles of humanity I witnessed in sub zero temperatures. We all have our own visions and hopes of things we want to do with our lives, and if I had let that gut-wrenching, cold sweat inducing voice in my head convince me I was surely going to fall short, I never would have stepped foot on that plane.
This is where it comes full circle and goes back to those crossroads and
Choices I talked about earlier…
We all have our own “plane” to step foot on. If you don’t take that first step, you’ll never know how amazing you really are.
Recently we here at Anytime Fitness off Santa Rosa Ave had the good fortune to host Greg Cordell and Geno Church of “Brains on Fire.” Brains on Fire is the company Anytime Fitness partnered up with to pave the way in leading this fitness rebellion. They specialize in leading movements, and they’re damn good at it!
During their visit, they got to witness one of our Rebel boot camps! OPERATION: Fitter for Winter was in full effect that day, and I got an e-mail this morning from the wonderful Greg Cordell sharing something I find to be pretty damn awesome.
Greg said his “heart smiled” when he saw me reach for the shovel before our workout. To see such a symbol wasn’t just endearing at face value, it had a bit more of a back story… Attached in the e-mail was a short children’s story written by Greg himself all about never giving up on your dreams and always pushing forward no matter the obstacle.
The center piece was digging…
As soon as I read the story, I was floored. One because… wel, read it. No explanation needed there. The second reason is because I’ve secretly been writing a children’s story myself about a mole by the name of Trinket who is tired of “the way things are” and finds out his ability to dig is more powerful than he realizes. It’s halway done. Greg, you have inspired me to finish the other half.
Thank you, Greg, for sharing such an amazing piece of literature that resonates with me more than you know. I asked to share it because I know I won’t be the only one… This is proof that this revolution is real.
Never stop digging…
Rachel Bailey – The Great Pretender
When the ray of sunshine by the name of Rachel Bailey took a seat in front of me on one particularly bright Saturday afternoon, she wore the same whimsical-yet-anxious look on her face that all the amazing souls interviewed before her had. A look that said “I don’t know why you’re interviewing me, I don’t really have anything amazing to share…”
That’s where everyone is wrong. Rachel is no exception.
In all the years that I’ve known Rachel, she’s always been a vibrant ray of sunshine. On the taller side just like her mom she has always been uncannily sweet and never selfish (again, just like her wonderful mother). She was the exact same way as the 22 year old woman nervously awaiting the questions I’m set to ask her.
“This isn’t my story, it’s yours!” I say.
“I have no agenda here. I just want the world to see how wonderful you are.” I assure her.
“What do you want people to know?” I ask.
“Well…” She began.
From a young age, Rachel always struggled with her self-worth for a reason lost unto her. Although extremely close with her mom (her rock), she constantly battled with feeling good enough for not just herself, but literally EVERYONE she came in contact with. A life-long weight struggler to match, Rachel could never quite get healthy living down. The further she strived for perfection, the farther away from happy Rachel became. Even still, she internalized her self-worth issues and never could bring herself to talk about it with anybody seeing as how she felt bad enough already… people couldn’t know she was THIS broken!
With her “happy shield” starting to reveal its cracks and her weight escalating rapidly, it caused concern amongst those closest to her. Enough concern to prompt prods and urges for Rachel to get healthier. Join a gym. Start a diet. You know the typical clichés.
Fed up with the pestering, Rachel gave in. She waved the white flag and reluctantly joined the gym. She started a diet. She went along with everything everyone else wanted while secretly resenting it all. She was working on all the right things for all the wrong reasons. It was a chore. A burden upon her shoulders that was just “one more thing” to add to the plates she was spinning just trying to convince everyone she was fine all along!
Technically, that would be called denial. I call it planting the very seeds that our wisdom grows from.
All the while she was singing the same sad song and dance she wanted no part in, she was in a broken relationship and having trouble with close friends further leading to her devastatingly hastening spiral down the happiness drain.
The crowning jewel of straws that break camel’s backs was the passing of her Grandmother on October 20th, 2010. Not only was her world shattered, but her mom’s as well. Her pillar had lost her pillar, and the illusion of everything being ok had finally drawn its curtain. Having left the damaging relationship with her boyfriend and seeing a therapist in regards to friendships lost, Rachel was broken. Succumbing to the depression, she treated herself horribly. Using food as therapy and her self-esteem as a dart board, Rachel still hadn’t hit rock bottom. All it took was a simple question she had heard on the day of her Grandmother’s passing and that had haunted her more and more vividly with each passing day.
“What have you done with your life to make Grandma proud?”
One day, without any warning whatsoever, Rachel woke up and something felt different… There was less tension in her shoulders and more color in her vision. What once was a haze had turned into clarity. Coming out of a fog, Rachel realized something monumental. Whether it was her subconscious speaking to her in her sleep or something she knew all along yet had finally decided to believe THIS day, a new Rachel awoke.
Gone were the feelings of needing to prove herself to others. In its place was the realization she needed to take care of herself for HER. She realized she was the only one putting the kind of pressure and strain on herself, so she could be the very person to take it off.
So she did.
Hell bent on providing an adequate answer to the question posed on the day of her Grandma’s passing, she had a new fire she had never experienced before. A feeling of purpose and importance beyond what other people thought evolving into the realization of the overall end game. Not toned abs and slender legs. A healthy life! Seeing the tragedy of her Grandmother’s flame extinguishing too soon put into focus that she was on an even quicker path to her own expiration date. Rachel was killing herself faster and faster each day, with no remorse for herself at all.
That day Rachel woke up with the weight of the world on her shoulders replaced with the levity of her self-worth made the things that used to be burdening chores turn into affirmation of everything she was capable of.
No longer dragging her feet through the mud, Rachel finds herself smiling for no reason and laughing at her own dorkiness. With each passing day Rachel’s confidence grows. No longer needing a guy, the acceptance of certain friends, or anything but the love for herself, life has never been sweeter. The kicker is that in turning a new leaf she found herself showered with love she never allowed herself to accept before.
Rachel has found a new body beyond the amazing weight-loss she experienced at the hands of a happier her. She has found an able body that doesn’t know the word “quit” nor does it utter the words “I can’t…” anymore.
She became the person she was pretending to be by no longer pretending anymore.
I leave you with a very fitting quote. One I have always believed in yet I feel has never been more applicable than in the moment I finished this wonderful interview.
“You are only as beautiful on the outside as you feel on the inside. Until you learn to love yourself, you’ll always see ugly in the mirror”
– The Rebellion
I highly suggest making note and saving this page, put it in your favorite, print it out… do whatever you’ve got to do to always know what area of the body we will be working on, what to expect, what to wear on theme nights, and how to plan your OWN workouts accordingly!
Remember, there is a point system in play now. Each team will get a point for showing up, BRINGING SOMEONE, and staying for the boot camp afterwards, giving you a total of 3 possible total points per person, per team. The REST of the point system will be explained at orientation, so for now that is all you need to know 🙂
Feb. 2nd (Saturday) @ 12pm – ORIENTATION
Feb. 5th/6th (Tuesday/Wednesday) @ 6:30pm – Fit Tests!
Feb. 9th (Saturday) @ 10am & 12pm – Measurements!
Feb. 10th (Sunday) – TOUGH MUDDER TEMECULA!!!
Feb. 12th/13th (Tuesday/Wednesday) @ 6:30pm – Team Blue and Team Purple’s (Team colors… not team names) 1st Boot Camp! The 1st boot camp is ALWAYS legs and we ALWAYS go to the back alley. Well lady-rebs and gentle-rebs, there will be a brand new, never before done twist to the back alley that will involve every bit of tradition with a bit more… stay tuned 😉
Lastly, you will be introduced to the UNIVERSAL team song on our final wall-sit. Each team will have their own team song, yet this will be our primary team song we ALL share. Rebels unite!
Feb. 16th (Saturday) @ 10am & 12pm – 1st weigh in! Every saturday we will hop on the scale as a barometer. To understand my philosophy on this sweet and sour measurement tool, click HERE. It won’t be easy, but I fully expect you to adopt this mindset. If it were easy it wouldn’t be special… As for the workout… UPPER BODY! Get ready for a scream circle too…
Feb. 19th/20th (Tuesday/Wednesday) @ 6:30pm – Core! This will also be the day you get your shirts AND learn what your SPECIFIC team song is while doing a rebel style plank!
Feb. 23rd (Saturday) @ 10am & 12pm – Yingyangerang workout #3! Balance and stability tested in a way we’ve never done before!
Feb. 26th/27th (Tuesday/Wednesday) @ 6:30pm – Legs! No back alley, but don’t be thankful just yet…
Mar. 2nd (Saturday) @ 11am – SHOWDOWN AT THE PARK! This meeting time is for BOTH teams. I chose 11am to split the difference between both teams scheduled meet times. This will be epic… Winner will get not only ultimate bragging rights for who wins the first showdown, but also a TBD amount of points to be added to your team’s point total at the end! Expect a fun yet gritty showdown with ALL team orientated activities. Think Tug-of-war and shovel relay races. Let the games begin! This workout will be rain or shine, so prepare accordingly!
Mar. 5th/6th (Tuesday/Wednesday) @ 6:30pm – DRESS LIKE JOSH DAY (Upper Body)!! Last challenge, Team Nova surprised me by showing up in shorty-shorts, head bands, and painting soul patches on their faces. Some even had crazy socks and bandanas tied around their knees! I loved it so much, I’m making an official theme out of it. The reason I loved it so much? Because it got people out of their comfort zone (my outfits aren’t the easiest to feel comfortable in!) and it was the most charged workout of the challenge. Best dressed between the 2 teams gets 5 extra points 😉
Mar. 9th (Saturday) @ 10am & 12pm – Midway measurements! There will be no OFFICIAL boot camp this day so as to re-measure all you rebels and see where you’re at! I LOVE this day because it allows the people who don’t think much is happening to see a LOT is happening. There is no make-up day for measurement day, but this will ALSO be point based. Meaning, you lose a point if you don’t show up. Thems the breaks! We will ONLY being doing measurements and weigh in. There will be a boot camp at 1:30pm where we will meet at the gym and will either workout inside OR at the park depending on the amount of people who show up. This will also be point based…
Mar. 12th/13th (Tuesday/Wednesday) @6:30pm – Blacklight 8.0 (Core)! Come decked out in your best white and neon attire so we can light that room up like Fern Gully! Best dressed out of the two teams gets 5 extra points 😉
Mar. 16th (Saturday) @ 10am & 12pm – Legs! AhhOOO!!!
Mar. 19th/20th (Tuesday/Wednesday) @ 6:30pm – COLOR WHEEL THEME (total body balance)!! Come dressed in every color you can possibly imagine. Leave the darker shaded clothing articles at home as you make a STATEMENT!! Best dressed out of the two teams gets 5 extra points 😉
Mar. 23rd (Saturday) @ 10am & 12pm – Upper body! AhhhOOO!!!
Mar. 26th/27th (Tuesday/Wednesday) @ 6:30pm – Core! We will also being foregoing a theme this night so that you can VOTE!! I will be setting up a ballot box with slips of paper to write down your choice of what theme you would like the following week! You can get together with your team and decide on something or you can treat it like every person for themselves… just make it fun! I will tabulate BOTH days separately, meaning each team will have their OWN theme. I will be announcing the theme for the following week the very night you will be voting :). AhhOOO!!!
Mar. 30th (Saturday) @ 10am & 12pm – Legs! AhhOOO!!!
Apr. 2nd/3rd (Tuesday/Wednesday) @ 6:30pm – WILDCARD TEAM THEME (Upper body)! Whatever was decided upon the previous week will be the theme this week. No extra points awarded since each theme will be different for each team.
Apr. 6th (Saturday) @ 10am & 12pm – Core! AhhOOO!!!
Apr. 9th/10th (Tuesday/Wednesday) @ 6:30pm – 80s NIGHT (Legs)!!! Come in all your greatest 80’s attire because we are going to have a BALL! I keep this one in every single challenge because… well, it’s awesome!We will be doing the exact same workout as your first boot camp to showcase the progress! This also marks our last individual team workout before the final showdown the coming Saturday…
Apr. 13th (Saturday) @ 11am – Final showdown at the park! Same rules apply as the first showdown… May the odds be ever in your favor!
Apr. 16th/17th (Tuesday/Wednesday) @ 6:30pm – Final Fit Tests!
Apr. 20th (Saturday) @ 10am & 12pm – Final Measurements!
Apr. 27th (Saturday) – Challenge party! Details to be determined and announced!
We still have a few weeks left and I have a handful of spots open! Click HERE to get pricing details ($325-4$00 depending for 3 straight months which includes your very own custom rebel shirt hand made by myself and all the other little extras NOT showcased on this schedule)
If you want one of those spots, fill out the form below and you are in!
You get the results people don’t get by doing the work that people don’t do
It’s Time to Begin…
CLICK HERE for boot camp dates and pricing details!
Fill out the form below if you’d like to reserve your spot 😉