Taking Chances; A.K.A. “Well, I’m Doing This…”

Killer of man – I am of death!

The putrid, demented growl of Skeletonwitch’s former frontman Chance Garnette pierces my ears almost every morning as I roll into the parking lot at Title Boxing Club in Knoxville. It’s usually 5 or 5:15am and all is dark. With the exception of the demonic thrash metal confined between the windows of my CR-V, it’s one of the few moments where Cedar Bluff is actually quiet, actually still. Once the song is over, I’ll grab my gym bag, my boxing gloves, and my BCAA pre-workout shake, lock my car, and then fish out my gym key.

I have a gym key. Not a badge to scan that will let me in the door after hours, not a club membership, but an actual key. Justin “Almost 280lbs” Simpson has a key to the gym. Justin “Just Over The Diabetic Line” Simpson has a key to the gym. You’ve got to be kidding me.

I’m going on my first year as a trainer at TBC and I like to think that I’ve remained humble thus far – I’m still amazed that they let me do it. Not only do I have access to the gym and get to lead classrooms full of people in a heart-pounding, high-intensity workout almost every day, but I get paid to do it. It’s the most fun thing I’ve ever gotten to do, the coolest thing I’ve ever gotten to be a part of. And it all started when I accidentally became a member.

I mean, I signed up on purpose, but I didn’t intend to find the place – didn’t intend to join a fitness facility. This was the last week of November, 2014. Over the course of the next year I would attend classes with some great trainers and made friends with a lot of devoted, hard working members that were dedicated enough to show up at 5:45am consistently. It’s truly the best fitness facility I’ve ever been a part of.

I’m going somewhere with this, I swear.

I guess it was around the first of October when some of our trainers were going to have their schedules shifted around due to changes at their full time jobs, forcing some to leave the morning class, and some to join it that weren’t exactly morning people. They put out an announcement asking members to refer their friends that may want to be part of the few, part of the proud – people with the right personality and drive to become trainers at Title. The idea had already crossed my mind a few times but being in front of a group of people just isn’t my thing. Plus, the announcements looking for new trainers included one stipulation I felt I didn’t meet: must be at the right fitness level.


You guys know my deal already – I’ve lost 60+ pounds and cut my body fat down to 15%, blood pressure is normal for the first time since I knew what my blood pressure was, my liver isn’t fatty anymore, I’m no longer at the diabetic level, cholesterol is normal, I’ve lost 5 belt notches and am currently wearing size 34 skinny jeans, a size I haven’t worn since middle school. That sounds great – for real – but did I see myself as the right fitness level?

Despite the voice in my head telling me to play it safe and stay on the sidelines, I decided to take a chance and voiced my interest as well as my concerns about my fitness level. I was surprised to hear from trainers I greatly admired that they thought I was already there and I received a tremendous amount of support and encouragement to give it a go – and so I did.

And once again, you guys know the rest. If I hadn’t taken that chance, I’d still be working hard, but I wouldn’t have the confidence I have now and likely wouldn’t have experienced the same fitness gains (not using this term in the bro sense for once), and wouldn’t have the accountability I have today.

So I took a chance even starting at a boxing gym, took a bigger chance seeing if I could become a trainer, and now I’m about to take an even bigger chance…

I’ve been flirting with the idea of becoming a certified personal trainer for some time now, but once again, my confidence level was too low to consider getting started. Who would want to pay ME, of all people, for one-on-one sessions in addition to the beatings I put on them in my Power Hours?

Turns out, more people than I thought. In fact, in the last couple of weeks I’ve had several members ask me if that was something I did. Strange.

I never thought that the fitness world would be one I would thrive in but so far I’m having a blast and people are apparently noticing. It’s gotten to a point where while I’m not quite wanting to do it full time just yet, the idea of adding a little more responsibility is alluring so I’ve decided to take yet another chance and on Friday I signed up to start my personal trainer certification.

Working through National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) accredited National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), I’ve stopped hanging out on safety beach and have taken a dive into shark-infested waters. I’ll probably lose a limb or two and my body will likely begin sinking as my blood rises to the surface, but with any luck, in just a couple of months I will be certified and ready to help others better their lives in a way I never thought in a million years I would be able to.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of checking out NerdFitness, I’d highly recommend going to their site and surfing around a little. I recently finished reading site creator Steve Kamb’s book Level Up Your Life and was particularly shaken by the chapter discussing the collection of underpants. Sounds silly, I know, but catch up here. He uses the underpants gnomes from South Park to illustrate how we like to read and research and think and plan (step 1) with ideas of success (step 3) but we never actually make it to step 2 – the hard work, the effort, the stuff nobody wants to actually do.

In taking advantage of this opportunity, my hope is to not only progress myself and level up on my own life, but also be there to help others out that can’t quite get their step 2 going. We’re still going to collect underpants like you wouldn’t believe, but we’re also going to make something happen with them by getting off our asses, and taking more chances.

JTF, CPT. What world is this?



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