Happy Monday and welcome to the first blog of Life & Fitness with D. Banks.
So I’d like to spend this first post talking about who I am, where I’m headed, and how that can benefit you as a reader.
I am a recent graduate from East Carolina University with a Bachelor’s in Science as a Health Fitness Specialist. I have a personal training certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine and a passion to change lives.
As the capstone to my undergraduate degree, I was given the opportunity to intern at the Golden Door Spa in San Marcos California. The experience changed my life. Before I get into that, let me tell you how I discovered my passion.
After graduating from high school, I was not really sure what I wanted to spend my life doing. I didn’t know what my passion was, or if I even had one. I had done a nursing internship in high school, and knew I wanted to help people. I attempted the Certified Nurse’s Aide twice and failed both times. I quickly decided perhaps that was not the path that was meant for me. So I decided to just go to a local Community College and work towards my Associate in Arts degree while I tried to figure out what I wanted to spend my life doing. Around this time, my step-father had bought a family membership to the local YMCA, which was right around the corner to my college, so I decided to make a regular effort to go to the gym after class 4 times a week.
In high school, I was not an athlete. Coming from a little 1A school where the number of students in the entire high school, freshman to seniors, was a whopping 500 kids, the teams I was on did not have the capacity to actually make cuts from the team, so I was able to run Track and Cross Country, but I was never really good at it. My fastest mile time was 6:26, and my fastest 5k was only 26:10, which are quite slow compared to my teammates.
So I decided to start a workout regimen and improve myself. Over a couple of months of consistently making efforts, I began to see changes in my body, and I began to realize the greater general feeling of well-being I received from a consistent work-out regimen. I jumped on the computer and looked up exercise science programs at universities in the state of North Carolina. Fortunately, I was able to find the Health Fitness Specialist program at East Carolina University and decided that that was the thing that I wanted to do. So I packed up, moved to Greenville, North Carolina, and declared my major as a Health Fitness Specialist.
While I was here, I made a lot of friends and was exposed to several opportunities as a part of any college experience. But while I was doing all of this, I began to compare myself to some of my closest friends. Most of them were working towards engineering. Some in mechanical, others in electrical. The friends that weren’t going to school started hard labor careers that were raking in a solid pay for people of their age. I began to look at the pay I would receive with a Bachelor’s degree in fitness and I was honestly only looking at $30k starting out, $60k if I worked my butt off. My friends were going to leave me in the dust. And sure, I could go to graduate school for physical therapy, but that did not excite me even a little bit. I was no longer motivated at all. I had not found my passion, and I was not longer excited about what I was doing. I began to accept that I was only ever going to “just make it” and my grades in school reflected that. I only put enough effort forth to get by, and not to excel. I was generally a B student, sometimes worse. I just wanted to experience the world while I was young. I wasn’t thinking about the future anymore because I just knew it was going to suck. I was just going to work to make little pay and would never really be able to do the things I wanted to do.
It was this time that I wanted to do everything I could to build my resume in ways that few others wanted to. I wanted to get as many experiences as possible. I HAD to set myself apart from the rest of the graduates coming out of my program so that I could achieve the things that maybe they couldn’t. I began to get jobs related to my field, such as working as a weight loss coach for a company based about a half hour from my university and working in the rec center on campus. My grades slipped because I was working 40 hours a week and was already a terrible procrastinator at school work as it was. However, I was given the opportunity to attend a collegiate fitness expo and a month later I got to go to the ACSM fitness summit in Orlando in 2016. These were great experiences and I truly did learn a lot. But I still was not motivated. I was feeding a passion that did not exist in me. The jobs I was working now were minimum wage, I had a pile of student debt, and I had no idea where I was going to go after I graduated. Then came the capstone.
The capstone to my program was fairly straight forward. Write your resume and beg any facility in the country you wanted to intern to give you a spot for 3 short months. While there we would have to create some sort of significant project working with the fitness staff and then you were on your way. Our program supervisor was gracious enough to compile a huge list of internship sites that past interns had attended. Because I would be working for free 40 hours a week during this internship, and was already using financial aid to pay the rent and digging deeper and deeper into a pit of debt, I pushed to find a paid internship. That is when Golden Door came into my life.
I saw the Golden Door Spa internship site as one of the very few places that would pay an undergraduate. But not only did they pay, they also housed and fed the interns. AND it was in North County San Diego, California. Housing me in that area of the country was already like paying me over $1,000 a month. I had to go there. I knew that it would be competitive, but the only way I could be sure to NEVER get the internship was if I never applied. So I put in my resume and began to call, email, call, email, call, call, email. Finally, I got an interview. Then another interview. Then another. And finally I had an interview with the head of Human Resources and the Head of Spa and Fitness. The next thing you know, they sent me an acceptance email. The only thing I needed to do was get a plane ticket to California and begin the experience that would give my life a purpose.
I could not believe it. I was moving across the country to work in the world’s most premiere fitness destination spa. Little ol’ me. The guy who was going to have to settle for “just getting by” for the rest of his life. The guy that really wasn’t going to amount to much. So off I went.
While at this internship, I got to meet some of the world’s most successful people. Attorneys, doctors, real estate brokers, business owners, CEOs, actors and actresses, and so on. People that truly did something with themselves. While I didn’t get to pry into their lives at all, sometimes I would get to hear them talking about how they got to this point in their life where they could afford to pay $10,000 for a single week to stay at this place. That’s when it hit me. Hearing their stories of success inspired me. You see, these people didn’t earn a fortune by working the jobs the world told them they would have to work because of their degree. They took risks. They failed. They were broke. Many were homeless at some point. But they never stopped pushing. Never lost sight of their dreams. Never stopping hustling. And there they were. Living the life. Some of them weren’t done climbing. Still working towards their dreams.
After the internship, I graduated from college, moved back in with my parents and started looking for a job. I got certified by NASM as a personal trainer, and I got a job as a trainer at a gym near my home. Now I’m working for just more than minimum wage, and mopping the floor every night. This is not what I want for my life. I want to make a difference. I want to help people discover the potential inside of them. To uncover their passion and make their dreams a reality.
So I’ve decided that I want to change the world. I know it sounds hilariously ambitious, but it’s okay if you laugh. Because I will make my dream a reality. I want to teach people to never fear failures. I want to teach people that every excuse is just a barrier between you and your goals. I want to show you that you can climb the mountain of your life and you can reach the peak, and then reach for the stars. There is truly nothing holding you back but yourself. Those people I met at my internship weren’t special. They weren’t any smarter than anyone I knew. They didn’t work harder than anyone I knew. In fact, I know people who are smarter and work harder than these people, but just haven’t reached that level of success, because they don’t know that they can, or maybe they are just afraid to fail. So if you have career goals, financial goals, relationship goals, fitness goals… You can reach them all, and I am going to do my very best to motivate and inspire you to reach for the stars because there is no one like you, and you CAN achieve anything you put your mind to. All you have to do is try and try again.
So today my mission statement for you is to post a podcast and blog post every Monday morning, to motivate and inspire you at the beginning of every week to achieve goals and dreams that you had not thought were possible until now. So tune in with me and together, we will change the world.
Now get out there and get after it!
You can listen to the full podcast here: