Onward, Upward (For Ryan)

There are so many ways to measure success as a coach.

If you train athletes, success might be measured by making them faster, stronger, more resilient, or helping them achieve the next level in their sport however it’s best defined.

If you train fat loss clients, success can be measured by helping them achieve something closer to their ideal weight, adding longevity to their years on this earth, or making it easier for them to achieve the physical tasks of their daily life that they want to complete.

Throughout my tenure as a coach, I’ve seen amazing physical transformations, I’ve seen my business achieve financial heights I never dreamt possible, and I’ve watched confidence soar in people who never knew what they were capable of until we helped bring it out of them.

One story of note is with Ryan.

About three years ago, Ryan was referred to us by one of our longstanding clients and arguably one of our biggest advocates, Shon C.

Ryan had been a part of another gym in the area which had not been as positive of an experience for him as he or his parents had wished.

Shon told the family about RevFit, and Ryan and his mother Amanda came to meet with me.

He was 16 then, and needed to gain strength and muscle mass for track and field.

Within just a handful of weeks, we could tell that Ryan was all in.

He embraced the culture of the studio, he befriended the coaches on staff and the clients he would routinely train around and took everything we taught him in so he could make the progress he wanted.

As we try to emphasize for our clientele, progress is not about perfection and it’s rarely linear and Ryan absorbed all of this. He kept pushing for more, always trying to get the next best rep, the next pound up on the scale and not letting a less than ideal workout deter him from something greater ahead.

We measured Ryan’s success by all of those markers: his lifts kept getting better, he was incredibly consistent with his workouts routinely getting in 3 sessions per week and allowing his appetite to guide the scale up. In his words, the goal was to “eat more than yesterday”.

As high school came to a close for Ryan, his future was less certain. He wasn’t quite ready to attack college and needed some time away from academics to decide which career path fit him best.

In the interim, we had a need for a coach on staff and I thought it might be a good opportunity to take someone who clearly loved the environment and had a vested interest in the success of the clientele that we could groom him into the industry.

So, Ryan joined forces with us and started working on his personal training certification. He learned lessons from that organization and he learned some of the processes and philosophies that had helped make RevFit what we are today.

He learned how to work with people who shared his enthusiasm for training and those who might never have a passion for exercise but valued what it did for their lives.

And, much as I had learned from mentors before me, I tried to impress on him the good, the bad and the ugly of how this business has grown. I’ve always appreciated that behind every successful business is a journey of peaks, valleys, stumbles, and misgivings that chart a course.

Much like we teach our clients, everyone wants to be successful and not everyone appreciates and respects how long it may take, how success should be defined and how many obstacles stand between us and the goals we want to achieve.

Somewhat jokingly, Ryan would tell clients: “I have a real dad and a gym dad.”

I have had the proud distinction of being the latter.

I’ve also had the privilege of training both his mother, Amanda and his father, Mitch.

And what I’ve seen throughout not only Ryan’s tenure but the time I’ve worked with his parents is that these are two people who have always and likely will always continue to shower their son with love and support while also making sure that he has his wings to take off into this world.

To that point, Ryan began looking for a second job to complement his part time hours with RevFit and found it at a local steel company where he could get steady hours, a bigger paycheck and have plenty of room for advancement should he decide to take it.

As I watched Ryan continue to balance 5 mornings a week at the steel company and at least 5 shifts with us, I kept up with how things were advancing for him. Not surprisingly, he did great work for them as he had with me and they reminded him that if he wants more work, it’s available for the taking.

So, Ryan and I put our heads together and I’m watching this young man, who is no longer the boy of 16 who started with me, try and plan for his future.

We put steps in place for him to finish his time coaching at the Rev and move back into a client role while he takes on a “big boy” job and starts making the money he deserves to make.

This week, at least as far as the eye can see, will be the conclusion of Ryan’s time as a coach at RevFit.

Which brings me back to the definition of success, a message I’ll tailor directly to Ryan.


Thank you for giving me (and my staff) the opportunity to be a part of your life. I have seen what the benefits of nutrition for a goal and appropriate strength training can do for any individual who embraces it. You, my friend, have embodied it. In a perfect world, every client who steps through our door would immerse themselves in those areas to see how it improves their lives as well. What you have done for your body, your spirit and your self-confidence is awe inspiring.

As your coach, you have done everything I’ve asked of you. You’ve pushed when the need was there, you’ve followed instruction, you’ve absorbed the lessons and reflected on them. That is a gift. Thank your parents for instilling that gift in you.

As your employer, you have gone above and beyond more times than I can count. You’ve listened to my constructive criticism and learned how to apply it to the work you do. Not that you’ll ever need it, but you will always have a glowing job reference from me should the need present itself.

As your “gym dad”, remember what you are capable of. Never let self-limiting beliefs keep you from a greater life. You are surrounded by people who love you, who cheer for you and who want to see you happy, healthy and successful (by any definition).

Long before he passed away my father knew the words to say to help inspire me. And while you aren’t my son, you are one of my greatest successes as a coach and I thank you giving me that.

Fortunately, we are not saying goodbye. We are closing one chapter to continue writing another.

I am so proud of you.

And I’m 100% certain I’m not alone.

As they say, onward and upward.

With love,

Jason (and your extended RevFit family)