How Lockdown Changed My Life!
It was December 2014. I had just married my wife, Claire, in November. I exchanged my signature for the keys to my very own unit. The unit was to be used as a gym. I would train clients and the general access members would essential pay the rent and switch the lights on.
Easy. Simple. Build it and they will come.
What I didn’t realise at the time was this was about to be a five-year long process of self-development. At this point I hadn’t even read a business book, knew nothing about finances — but luckily, I was a very good personal trainer.
My purpose has always been to help people. That’s my passion. And building a place where I could do this made absolute sense. But even from day one something wasn’t right. There was something missing. Something I couldn’t explain until now. I loved the gym, the people and everything it stood for. But I was struggling.
We had our first boy, Arlo, January 2016. One year after the gym opened. He changed my life. I went from all in on my business to not really giving a crap. In hindsight, this should have been a sign. The next 8–12 months saw me spending more time at home. My business was slowly declining, and I didn’t even know.
It wasn’t until I saw the numbers for real. It was then I realised I needed to act. I wanted my business to succeed but even at this point, I didn’t really have an idea how to run a business. All I knew was that things were slipping, and fast.
Around this time, I had my first huge disagreement with one of my employee’s. It turned quite aggressive and heated. We up ended up parting ways there and then. This left a huge void in my coaching staff and I ended up back coaching full time, alongside running my business.
Needless to say, my family life began to suffer.
In October 2017 we had our second son, Kobi.
Regrettably and ashamedly, I wasn’t there, or certainly not mentally present, for the first 8–12 months of his life anyway. The business was taking up a lot of my time. As the months rolled by, I could feel myself becoming more and more distant to the people I love.
It’ll get better, I kept telling myself — I just need to [insert excuse] and then we’ll be good. Thing is, I was actually losing my passion. Everything was feeling like a slog. There was a burning desire inside of me to help people but on a deeper level than I could achieve from running a gym.
Because of my struggling I started doing a lot of personal development and had been for around two years. I was introduced to this in early 2018 by my first real mentor. It slowly started helping change my relationship, for the better, with my family.
The next two years were all about gaining a balance between business and life. It was certainly helping but there was a barrier that we just couldn’t get past. The gym. I was constantly being dragged back.
Last chance! This was it.
I had one final plan and a deadline. I started working with a guy who’s at a super high level of developing gyms. My plan was to create proven systems and staff development programs that would allow me more lifestyle freedom. But it was going to require at least 12-months of solid, head down work.
My wife agreed we’d take this final shot at making it work. We had everything set. Financial targets, systems, staff development programs. It was exciting. This was going to allow me to have the heart of my gym but to allow me the freedom to write more and work independently with clients on their personal development.
Then something huge happened.
Coronavirus started impacting the world and we all went into lockdown.
My wife is a nurse — a key worker. Our youngest, Kobi, isn’t quite three yet and our oldest, Arlo, was in nursery. With the uncertainty of what implications this virus was going to cause we took Arlo out of nursery. It was decided I would look after them both full time.
I could do my best to continue running my business online and look after the kids at the same time. My wife works four shifts on and three off. We could make this work. I planned EVERYTHING out. I had schedules for my online training, schedules for me and the kids. Staff meetings and content scheduling. Each week I’d chat with my mentor about keeping the business developing.
But there was minor snag I hadn’t accounted for. My kids. I placed them into a schedule along with everything else. I hadn’t considered what they needed most. Love, attention and in crazy times like lockdown, a sense of normality.
This was about to be my biggest life lesson in my entire 38 years of existence.
It started off well. I was doing online sessions. I was meeting up with my team everyday via ZOOM and trying my best to keep everything together. But as the days rolled by, I could feel everything coming apart. I was irritable, stressed and the kids were going nuts. I felt I had zero control of anything. I had gone from full on businessman to full time Dad within the space of days.
I was inundated with emails to cancel memberships and contracts. I couldn’t guarantee to pay my staff, so they were furloughed. I didn’t even have the time to reply to emails until late in the evening. So, everything would sit on my mind, build up and fester all day. Things were declining fast.
Here I was fighting to find time in the day, yet the rest of the guys involved with the mentorship program I was on, were dominating the online world. They were helping people along with growing their businesses. I felt resentful and highly anxious. I wanted to help people, I wanted to grow my business. Yet I couldn’t even help myself.
My real moment of realisation came when I was trying to do a sales call.
It was in the midst of bringing a lady on to my online program. My oldest was sat beside me screaming out for attention. Literally, screaming. My stress levels were at breaking point. I was trying to salvage something that my heart wasn’t 100% in. Yet I was neglecting the most important thing in my life, my family.
It was decided. Cancel all the memberships. Anyone who wanted to continue to work with me online could, but only around the times I could offer. The times I could give my 100% to them. This was going to be financial suicide, but it was going to save us during a time where the world just wasn’t the same.
Once I made this decision, it was like a huge burden had just been taken off my shoulders. I was instantly happier. But then things really started to change;
I started bonding with my kids.
I started understanding their needs. Something I’d never had done before — ever. Dad soon started to become Daddy. I was no longer the man who was only ever really present on a weekend, at best. And who’d roll in from work and quickly read a night time story three, maybe four nights per week.
Now, each and everyday I watch them grow and develop. Everyday is different and by no means easy. It is however priceless.
I started talking with my wife more.
We are now planning a life freer of burden. Sure, there’s a long way to go but as a family we are so much happier now. Lockdown has given us the opportunity to actually talk and not just be passing ships of the night.
We’ve had more date days/nights through lockdown than we’ve had in 5 years. It’s been amazing!
I started doing more of the things I love the most.
Writing and reading. Since lockdown began, I’ve wrote an eBook, been so much more consistent with my weekly emails and written more blogs than I have in 5 years of owning my gym. And I absolutely love it. I like nothing more than sitting down, throwing my headphones in a typing away.
I’ve always been big on reading, but since lockdown I’ve probably read a dozen books or more. I even replaced my Facebook icon location with Medium. So, every time I grab for my phone, instead of automatically clicking social, I instead click and read a blog/article.
I closed my gym.
A decision I wrestled with for a long time. After all, my heart and soul were in that place. For many it was a facility. Somewhere to workout, a release from life. To me it was 5 years of personal development. Everything I stand for and believe were contained inside. I even had my beliefs, my mind, projected onto the wall in a graffiti style display.
The closure of my gym has given me closure on a part of my life I believe was a necessary path. I was introduced to personal development around 2 years ago. Since then I’ve developed many strategies, both with myself and my clients. It’s been a game changer.
Thing is, nothing could have prepared me, or anyone for that matter, for what lockdown delivered. It’s been far from easy. Even now it’s still a challenge. But it’s allowed me to discover what’s most important in life. I’ve been given an opportunity to see what’s right in front of me. And it’s allowed me to discover my real purpose.