My first contact at Downsize Fitness was Martin. I had put in a request for a couple of free classes on Facebook and Martin was calling to get those set up. He was outside, in his car, surrounded by construction and continually apologizing about the noise. But it wasn't the noise that stood out to me. To be honest, and Marty knows this, it was his stutter. When Martin is excited, he stutters. He was excited that day to get me into the gym. I was guarded, uptight and really anxious about going in, and it was that stutter, Martin's excitement that drew me in. He greeted me with a smile and it was by far the least intimidating experience I have ever had at a gym.
I think what made Martin so approachable from that moment forward was the fact that he, like so many of us, had a story of his own. He had been unhealthy, overweight and unhappy and had made a difference in his own life. He, along with his beautiful wife Brie, were (are) now dedicating their life to helping others make changes.
One day Martin and I were talking about journeys and struggles and got onto a topic that is near and not so dear to most of us. Bullying.
[Martin rambling as he does ;)]
... what do I say about something that defined my youth... I was bullied. Most that know me from back in the day look at me know and probably think. Hm. Good for him. Look what he's doing. He's helping people. I've always helped people. It's in my nature. Having been bullied slowed that process down and took my self confidence away and I began to doubt myself and for a while I stopped helping. Who wants me to help ? Me a "weird overweight stuttering loser". I believed them. They were wrong but I believed them and yes, it destroyed me, then. It rippled though my life and maybe still does a bit but I push forward now...and I don't care now because I look at the source. Always look where it's coming from... social status does not absolve a person from being a bully. They know who they are. Getting healthy and losing weight built back some of the self confidence I had lost but still left resonating scars in my personality that I must deal with daily. In my mid twenties I had to deal with severe panic attacks and depression. I had no control over it but I learned to manage. I had stopped thriving. I was completely stuck. No one really knew that my life was a mess but I could feel the walls crumbling around me.
He took all that negative energy, all that anxiety and struggle and instead of feeding it back to the people who caused it, he fed it into helping people overcome the same struggles he had.
This perspective, this experience and journey are key to why Downsize is so successful in helping others. He and Brie don't baby you. They tell you hard truths and never sugar coat anything (I mean who needs that sugar anyway?). But along with those hard truths they offer love and support to help you work on yourself. To become more fit, healthier, stronger.
This support is reflected strongly in the way the Downsize family helps and cares for each other. We are a strong community that does not shun those that failed. Instead we try to help. We help people get back up and try again. We don't judge. This is what Brie and Martin's journey and values have created.
I am so glad I took this journey with these awesome, supportive people.