It was 7:45am as I walked down the hallways of I.S. 99 in South Brooklyn. I was excited at having been invited to speak to the students about potential careers in fitness. The night before, I asked my son if he was looking forward to hearing me speak. He said, “Well, I’m looking forward to missing class…”
Clever kid. I’ll take it.
I sipped bitter coffee in the teachers’ lounge and stared at my wristwatch. I waited for the 8:00am assembly to begin. It was cold out.
As a Master PCC Instructor for Dragon Door’s acclaimed Progressive Calisthenics Certification, I’ve addressed large groups of people all over the world. I’m no stranger to standing before a room and extolling the virtues of strength and movement. Hell, as one of New York City’s all time leading “big box” fitness managers, I’ve discussed the ins and outs of this often-confusing business to more groups of trainers than almost anyone I know. Before even working as a trainer, I was a professional emcee, working all types of live events, from Spring Break in Cancun to the Kentucky Derby. I love getting in front of a crowd!
But this time I was uncharacteristically nervous. Why?
I suppose that, in many ways, this was the most important group I’ve ever spoken to. After all, these kids are the future. When I speak to adults, they are more set in their ways. They’ve already begun to establish who they are. But these 6th through 8th graders are as fresh and pure as the sweet morning dew. I felt that maybe my words carried more weight, simply by the novelty of never have being heard before by this particular young group of ears.
They asked about clients. I talked about relationship building.
They asked about motivation. I spoke of dedication.
They asked about money. I told them about commitment.
We talked about how adults often have a hard time making an effort for things that come naturally to kids, like movement and physical exertion. Health matters no matter what stage of life you’re in.
Then in classic Kavadlo fashion, I decided that talk is cheap—even when it’s me who’s talking. It was time for calisthenics!
I brought a few volunteers onto the stage, as the whole auditorium engaged in some stretching, squats and jumping jacks. The audience then cheered for the impromptu onstage push-up contest. It’s usually best to up the level of involvement.
Things got serious as I explained why the role of a personal trainer is so important. Due to technological advances, lifestyle changes and a growing aversion to real-life experiences, adults in this country are more sedentary than ever. They need training. Bad. “Personal Trainer” is one of the few careers to have shown continual growth, regardless of the economy or overall employment. I couldn’t have seen that coming when I was in sixth grade.
So how could they possibly know what they want to be at age 11 or 12 or 13? I sure as hell didn’t! “Personal Trainer” wasn’t even a job when I was their age. I was getting fired up!
And then, at our most perfect moment, these words left my lips:
“In this life, you will try many things and have many experiences. You don’t have to decide NOW what you will do forever. It’s a long road and I want you to taste it all. But whatever path you take, show up on time, respect others and give your best effort. Do what you say you’re gonna do when you say you’re gonna do it! You are the future! Can you handle it??? Keep the dream alive!”
And then it was over.
The next day, I asked my son how the presentation was. Turns out, he though I did okay after all. He even liked that I made everyone stand up and move. Then he wanted to work out. Hey, like I said, health matters no matter what stage of life you’re in. The kids are alright!