College Coach and Studio Owner

It has been so long since I have been here. Where to begin? I guess with this moment as the past will be represented by where I am now. Especially sinceĀ I finally know what I want to be when I grow up – exactly what I am.

I landed the job of my dreams without even knowing there was an opening or pursuing any position like it. I am the volleyball conditioning coach at St. Norbert College. The head coach also is the head of our areas high school club league (and 90% of my clients are club players). In this world I find myself in, he is a VIP and I avoid VIPs like the plague (keep your head down and do your work is my motto). So the day that name showed up on my phone was a strange and exciting day. Apparently by keeping my head down and doing my work, his club athletes have improved and parents speak highly of me. The college team needs someone to show up, show interest and show enthusiasm when training. Check, check, and check – with the bonus that I write great programs. The ladies are lovely. They show up, they show interest and they show enthusiasm – with the bonus that they work their butts off.

College team training is extremely different than 1:1 high school training and there was a moment I thought I would compare. There is no comparison. Marrying the two is truly enhancing both. I have two dream jobs and, if you know me you know how uncharacteristic the following is, I am damn good at them.

I am also opening my own strength and conditioning studio. What to describe it as has been a struggle (studio sounds so cardio) but as it will solely be for 1:1 training I think studio was the term to us. The Husband, The Coach, and I all sat down to talk and it was decided that the time was right. I had been looking for places for 2 years and we all agreed that if I wait for the dream to be perfectly revealed, I would wait forever. But if I start living my dream, I will be able to create my vision over time. Dozens of friends donated time on renovations, Coach is loaning me some equipment, and the Rogue rack/Ohio bar/bumpers are en route. I worry what the girls and parents will think of the space (it isn’t beautiful or shiny) but, after telling them, most girls squealed, one girl cried in excitement and gave me hug, and all the parents have said “this is just another reason we chose you to be our daughters’ role model”. I’m not really sure if their daughters’ took such gambles they would be this thrilled.

And yes, the gap of time has filled my shelves with medals and trophies from powerlifting. I still do my thing. But that isn’t my life anymore. These young women that I am so blessed to have in my life and I get to watch and guide as they turn into college women and medical students and strong professionals…well, that is where my life is.


Back Day and Adventures

This will be short.

Back day today. Coach put me on a machine for lat work. I made a face, I hate machines. I didn’t complain though. I remembered that he uses this machine regularly so it must be effective. He noticed my face and after my last set he explained it holds me in place better than the cables do and I can manage my shoulder better. My lats are throbbing tonight and my shoulder doesn’t hurt at all.

Barbell rows: better than the last few weeks. I judged my weight perfectly.

Single arm cable rows, back extensions and hamstring stretching finished the day.

When I arrived at the gym at 7AM Coach was with a client. He ran over, threw his phone on my desk, and went back to work. On the screen was a picture of a warehouse. And here I thought all the recent talk was turning back into dreams.

It would be 3 hours before we could talk and even that would be limited because we have to lift. But the talk between sets was contained excitement. We allowed time to dream but tried to keep the dreams practical. Once we see inside the place it may not be “the one”. Right now it’s like looking at a Christmas present. Fun to shake and imagine what it could be, trying to remember it might not be a PS4 but rather Hanes cotton underwear. We are both pretty good at this, we are both hopeful dreamers who more often than not get underwear.

I remind him that we need to have a good solid plan, short and long term goals, practicalities laid out but that no matter how thorough we are there will be things we miss, problems we didn’t anticipate. We will have to stay calm and I can’t break down when things go awry and he can’t get sick for days from stress. At some point we just have to jump off the cliff and figure it out. It’s a good thing I’ve jumped off so many. He laughs and agrees.

At one point I began “your facility…” And he cut me off with a click of his tongue and said “our. Our facility. We’re a team”. I never finished my thought. I was speechless so I turned back to the bar, lifted it up and said “Zimmermann, you sure do know how to sweet talk this old girl”. And after my rows I promised I would never mention the one present he ever gave me (a jump rope) which he took home to adjust and never returned. This was 2 years ago. “You won’t?”. Nope. I’ll just drive by our facility and say “he gave me that. Best gift ever!”

After agreeing on the lists we need to compile and the questions we need to develop, I realized things may fall through and disappointment will follow or things will proceed and we won’t have time to breathe. I wanted one last moment of pure child-like joy, I wanted to take one moment to experience pure excitement without business worries. I was happy dreaming when I looked across the room at the little brother I love so much and who said “our place”.

Hip be damned and I ran the length of the gym and jumped into his arms, wrapped my legs around his massive frame (all 5 feet of me can’t make it all around him) and said “I know it may end in disaster but let’s just be happy for a few seconds. It happens so rarely.”


The Plan, Backup Plans, And Epic Fails

Last week got dicey. It is a safe assumption that a week without a post indicates life is happening at speeds I can’t control.

Word got out about one of the trainers deep in contract negotiations. We are all independent, just renting space, and negotiations for the first are not in the trainers favor. Coach and I were devising back up plans. Back up plans that involve Coach taking on too much stress and an unwillingness to share the burden. Back up plans that involve my husband giving us the last of his savings, our retirement, our leaking roof and 20-year old car money.

Outwardly I was calm. I even continue to eat (that would have been impossible even 6 months ago). And what I am learning is the “do not panic” exterior mixed with food gives me diarrhea. I am beginning to realize that under extreme stress my options are to emotionally break down or to work on a problem and be physically sick. I do actually prefer the later. Things still get done, just with frequent bathroom breaks.

Coach is actually sick. I’m sure the zero sleep and stress lowered his immune system, giving the bug he had been fighting plenty of opportunity to take a firm hold. He’s been out for days now. I worry.

I can’t afford to miss a day, though it is tempting. It is shoulder day. My favorite day. I don’t hit the same weights as last week but I was pretty damn close. My form and speed were great. I even worked hard enough to fail my last set of barbell presses. Not bad.

Over the weekend, in the midst of worrying about my husband trusting me to trust a 20-something who is dependable (more often than not), I messed up. I failed epically. I don’t know when the last time was I had a smoke. I do know a pack was $7 cheaper back in the day. I did Sunday. And I sat in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere and cried. I texted a friend my confession and what a failure I am. I’m no example. All these years of getting better and I’ve let everyone down. And now my husband, who doesn’t share his money, is offering to go destitute because I believe in Coach’s potential, should Coach choose to pursue it. I want to run away. But since I can’t, I sat an smoked in an empty parking lot like a sneaky teenager.

My friend said “it was one mistake, not a failure, not a reason to throw all your hard work away. Throw the pack away, go home and do push-ups. Your the cheapest person I know. If your going to feel bad about something, you just took $9 and put it in the trash.”

And I must have done close to 500 push-ups of different varieties throughout the day yesterday. I am still stressed, still have icky stomach but I am returning my focus to North Carolina in December.

At first I was sorry I failed everyone. I still am, but really, I failed myself. Not because of the cigarette but because I, for a moment, I forgot who I am. I lost faith. I stopped believing in the power that is me. I lost my focus on December. I forgot that jumping off cliffs is what I do best. I forgot that I’m a Warrior Girl.

I can’t promise that I won’t fail again but I do promise it won’t be with a cigarette.

Help. Monday’s Workout. Coach v Little Brother

The Mentor assigned me the task of finding out how other independents built clientele. Speaking to everyone I know, they started by working elsewhere and left with a full client load. A little demoralizing. If anyone in blogger land has a great idea, or have been in this position and can simply offer words of encouragement, please share!

Minutes of sleep Monday night: 0

Except for the near-blinding headache, I feel pretty good considering. I am prepared, and saddened, that this is my last big day with deadlifts before we “get my numbers” and I am in less than ideal condition for it. Better now than next week I suppose.

How did this happen? I have no idea. I’ll let you review my Monday and maybe you can tell me.

It began with clients and the sessions were fine. I ran around printing promo material – why does paper with a few words cost so much?! – and working on updating my business site and Facebook page (seriously, check out my FB page – the client pictures are amazing). Coach arrived on time and in a good place.

In fact, our time together Monday was a top 3 kind of day (beating it is my first birthday workout by a hair and, in a landslide, Christmas Eve workout 2013). For lifts, I had bench and Coach had shoulders. I am pushing respectable weight again. I can see my old numbers on the horizon. Far away but finally within sight. I have been learning to relax, to walk away, when the lift starts going wrong, so when I lost the last rep of the last set, I accepted I was done. Coach told me to get back under the bar, I would get the last one. It’s good to be getting back to me with a calm presence instead of a crazy one. We laughed a lot, and he sent me into fits while I was at the bottom of a dip. Not a good place to lose focus because of giggles. One would think he would know better but I accidentally do the same to him on a regular basis. In the end, the calm we have and the less pressure I have put on myself, the better my progress has become. I’m glad the fun has returned.

I once wrote, a long long time ago, that someone beat the joy of running out of me and that I wouldn’t let Coach do that to my lifting. We certainly lost it for a little while but the joy was still out there and, amazingly, he helped me look for it and nurtured it back to life when we found it.

After session we worked on some paperwork for the tennis camp attendees. And then the big discussion of how to manage the accounting of training partner/mentor/Coach time. I had put together such a nice little spreadsheet, which I of course forgot, and he didn’t keep a journal of one moment. We both winged our calculations (and somehow I was lower than my spreadsheet so I said “plus $20 for something important”). I have been saying I recently “I think I sell myself short. I don’t take enough credit for my contributions” and I repeated that as I looked at my number. Today Coach said “that’s a fact” as he revealed a reasonable rate and then threw in a “sister discount”. I am sure I will throw in a “brother bonus”. And I finally get why I am worth fighting for…more on that in a later post.

I finished with a strength session and a weight loss session of clients. They both set records for themselves. Good programming on my part, hard work on theirs. And then it was back to the paperwork and promo work. I know I will be losing a few client sessions in the next couple of months and I am working night and day to get ahead of a major-minor financial collapse. I have been making enough to pay the important bills (goal number 1) but I haven’t been able to set aside anything yet for a rough patch. The slow build is giving me solid, loyal, and successful clients but I desperately need a bump for a couple of months even from short-timers.