Saturday, April 2, 2011

Thanks, Jake

Blurry pic, but it's all I got!
Friday was my last workout with my trainer, Jake Parks, at the Weight Club. I worked with him 3-4x a week for three years and he was instrumental in helping me to discover the athlete that lurked within.

Jake is leaving to take a job starting up a new weight-loss focused training program at the Reston Hospital Center in Northern Virginia. As much as I will miss him (immeasurably), he is the perfect person for the new position and he has the potential to change countless lives.

Jake is a standout among trainers and is proof of the significant impact a caring, creative, skilled, and motivating trainer can have. He has a loyal group of long-term clients who have experienced many changes and accomplishments due in large part to his direction.

He sees limitless potential in everyone. He believed in me and showed me I could believe in myself. He is perhaps THE person most responsible for bringing about wholesale change in my life. Without him, my life story would not include footnotes of Boston-qualifying marathons, race wins, triathlons, bench press PRs, and overcoming injury. But what is more difficult to quantify is the happiness, purpose, and fulfillment he helped restore in me.

I’ve recounted this story many times, but it’s a significant one. When I walked into the gym three years ago, Jake didn’t write me off as a middle-aged, out-of-shape, mom. As with all his clients, there is no judgment, only potential. It didn’t take long before we were setting goals and he was providing structure and guidance to my newbie running, teaching me about fueling, and stressing balance, rest and recovery.

I loved and looked forward to our sessions in the gym. I worked consistently with Jake 3-4x per week for three years. It was a stretch financially but the payoffs for me and the trickle-down for the family was huge. I enjoyed coming to sessions with that element of surprise, knowing the basic body parts we’d hit but not exactly how. Sessions could include compound powerlifting moves, free weights, cables, kettleballs, bodyweight suspension exercises, boxing, plyometrics, medicine ball tosses, weighted vests, Bosus, stability balls, resistance tubes. It was like a big playground – with a lot of sweat!

Jake has helped me through some significant setbacks too – both physical injuries and mental hurdles. With the fibular fractures, he kept me going in the gym, working my upper body and getting creative with cardio. He kept me on track and accountable with my nutrition so that I could maintain a healthy performance weight.

Most people don’t realize how much coaching and counseling trainers do in their work. Jake has had to talk me up from despair, and down from the clouds, and provide reality checks and perspective. I’ve often told him he has “saved me from myself”.

I have learned so much about myself and about healthy living - fitness, health, fuelling, and recovery. There isn’t room to describe it all. I know as a result I am a better worker, better mom, better friend.

Thank you, Jake, for believing in me and for teaching this old dog new tricks. Thank you for making life so much more exciting, filling it with goals and dreams, and helping me to get there. Thank you for getting me into the best shape and happiest place of my life. Thank you for your patience, friendship and love… tough love usually!

I wish you the best in your new adventures and am confident you will continue to change lives and help many to find joy and confidence as they shed doubts and pounds.

Fortunately Jake will stay on as my “virtual” trainer providing structured strength training workouts and accountability for me and for others. It’s up to me to bring the motivation, drive, and commitment.

You bet I will. I learned it from the best.