They Fired Me.

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 If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you already know about my background and all of my past issues with teenage obesity and food obsession. You can read more about it right here. Luckily I exited that life as I went on to play college softball and forcefully discovered what monster miles were. Fat loss was a byproduct of the intense amount of exercise we did at the college softball level. For the 240LB me, those workouts were pretty horrifying. Looking back I can laugh at myself, because I now realize that those workouts were the catalyst to the success in my future years. FullSizeRender

That weight loss journey started at age 18, and I spent the next few years lifting weights and running marathons. By the time I hit my 20’s, I was 60LBS lighter than I was in HS. Size 14/16 at 180LBS, and life never felt so good.

Age 25ish

I got married at age 30 in the summer of 2013, and I'd spent the prior months "dieting", starving myself, and running miles upon miles to drop weight for the wedding day.

Slowly after my wedding, my running and exercise slowly slipped away and wedded bliss took over. By December I was up to 200LBs, and I was terrified of going any higher. I hadn't let myself stop working out in a very long time. I was always a "I run so that I can eat whatever I want" kind of chick.

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I decided to join a local boot camp, and from there I participated in 3 different fitness challenges that required restrictive eating menus. (Side note, I don't believe in restriction anymore, but that's another blog). I was losing fat and muscles were popping. I was also asked to become a boot camp trainer, and with no hesitation I accepted the position.

I developed new friends, a new lifestyle, and my life was peachy teaching boot camp classes in the early morning all the while still teaching Algebra and coaching softball at the high school level.

I started researching nutrition on my own, and I started following some of my favorite fitness people – Neghar Fonooni, Jill Coleman, and the unapologetically strong Jen Sinkler. In February of 2015 I was searching the web and discovered that these three beauties put together an event called The Radiance Retreat, and I didn’t know anything about it, but I instantly felt that it was something that I NEEDED in my life. The event would take place at Venice Beach, CA, but I felt that I had no business spending my hard earned money to go on this trip. My wife pushed me to go. I booked the trip.

I was going to use it as a trip for “clarity”. I was currently working on my Master’s Degree in Education, but there was something telling me that maybe NOW I could go into the fitness industry. Maybe NOW after my success in weight loss and in teaching groups (alongside my experience in coaching sports) that I could go that fitness route on my own. I still doubted myself. And if I DID do that, how would I start? I already loved my current boot camp location and all of its people, so how would I dare go out on my own?

Fast forward to April 2015 directly after returning from the Radiance Retreat – I came back inspired, motivated, and filled with the biggest sense of community and sisterhood. I longed to spread that sisterhood to my own area code. “Kresson, if I started a blog, do you think that anybody would be interested in my story?” My best friend laughed at me hysterically and rolled her eyes. “YES! YES! YES!” To her, this was naturally my next step. For me, I still doubted myself.

iamcoachfowler.com was quickly born, and some of my first stories got some real traffic! People were relating to my story, and my words resonated with a few people. I wanted to help people. This was a start!

I then decided that I wanted to grow this (#EEE) community. What if I could motivate people to work out in an environment that may be a little less intimidating than walking into a gym? That’s where my Boot Camp to Brunch event was born. I could lead a workout in a local park , and then we could all go brunch together to enjoy the camaraderie with one another. My first Boot Camp to Brunch event was completely open to the public, and it occurred on a Sunday so not to interfere with the fitness location where I was employed. We held the first event on Sunday, June 14th, and on Monday, June 15th I received an e-mail stating that due to a conflict in business interest, my instructor services would no longer be needed.

I was devastated. I ugly cried on many, many occasions, and I was horrified that my integrity may have been in question in regard my intentions with my new blog and event. I was growing a community. And did I say ugly cry? U-G-L-Y.

I had decided that I would just focus on teaching and coaching and have more time for my own fitness, rather than teaching others. I had just finished my Master’s Degree, and the plan was to get some basic equipment and start working toward training some clients in my home garage.

COMMUNITY. That’s what happened next. I was flooded with texts and calls and support. Community, people. They wanted to know what my next step was going to be. They were chomping at the bit.

Exactly 15 days later I applied for an LLC. She (because my LLC has a pronoun) would be called (em)POWERHOUSE. My mantra all along was to help empower people, and I wanted a power house program, so (em)POWERHOUSE came to me as I was driving one morning. It would stick. And so it began. I would soon own my own boot camp studio and offer personal training.

I had no clue as to what I was doing, how I was starting, or how to proceed. But I had support, and that above all else is what got me to where I am today. When you surround yourself with the good, only good things will come of it. I am now an entrepreneur, a female business owner, a motivator, and I wake up every single day loving where I am. Leaving the education and coaching field wasn’t easy, but I know I am where I’m supposed to be.

I have a spouse that provides me with limitless support of my dreams. I have my best friend training with me at my location, and she has been alongside me in this new endeavor for every single event. And I have the most amazing friends and family and clients. I couldn’t ask for more right now.

So what? I was fired. And at the time of my firing, it REALLY, REALLY sucked. But here’s what I’ve taken from that: I would have NEVER left my previous location on my own. Why would I leave? I had lifetime friends, and I loved my boot camp classes. I was eventually going to start training on my own out of my house garage and continue with my blog and Boot Camp to Brunch event, but getting fired was the BEST thing that ever happened to me. It allowed me to go out on my own. It gave me the permission I needed to create my own community, build my own house of empowerment, and provide a place for the PEOPLE. That’s what I love about (em)POWERHOUSE. It’s not about me. I may "own it" and "run it" and all of that hoopla. But it’s for you guys. It’s for the #EEEtribe.

Let me also be very clear with this message - I hold absolutely no ill will of my previous employer. That place changed my life in its own right, and I’m forever thankful for that. They provide their own sense of community in their own way. I truly wish them nothing but the best in all future endeavors. As fitness professionals, we’re all in this together, right? We’re in this for the good of the people and to see that they succeed. Godspeed.

I was faced with a challenge that, at the time, seemed so controversial and devastating. I also learned that perception, unfortunately, IS reality. Sometimes you can have the very, very best of intentions in your actions, but the perceptions for other people may be entirely different. Through that challenging time I learned that because of misperception, it’s important that we hand out a little more grace in crazy times. Getting fired from my “part-time gig” changed my entire direction in life. I am in disbelief sometimes that I am doing what I am doing, and it’s all thanks to people like you that invest in the time, in the message, and in the idea of community.

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When you find yourself at a crossroads, you may not always have an opportunity to chase a dream like I did, but there’s always a teaching moment to take away from it. Take advantage of the teaching moment. Understand it. Empower yourself. Empower others.

Engage. Empower. Elevate.

And grow from every challenging moment.

AND - come work out with us at (em)POWERHOUSE Gym if you're in the Oklahoma City metro!

emPOWERHouse

xo

Coach Fowler

Sisterhood. Getcha Some.

beach radiance “Better not let me catch your azz!” This is a phrase you might hear me yell to my girlfriends during any given workout sesh. They love it. We’ve learned how to motivate one another to bring out our best efforts during each workout. I love them. THEY make me better. To me, they embody sisterhood. The term sisterhood hasn’t really ever been on my radar. This word was mentioned numerous times during my trip to Venice Beach for the 2015 Radiance Retreat this past March 2015. I discovered the Radiance Retreat while #deepinthecreep one day on Neghar Fonooni’s Instagram account. (If you don’t already follow her, I truly believe you are missing out.) While perusing Neghar’s older photos I came across a picture of her alongside Jill Coleman and Jen Sinkler, and I followed the link under the photo to learn more about this so-called Radiance Retreat.

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Aren't they just lovely? 

Click. I instantly fell in love with what the Radiance Retreat was all about and desperately wanted to attend, but I delayed booking my flight because of too many intimidating (and now laughable) factors. I wasn't yet a certified trainer, nor did I (at the time) have my own blog, my own business, or anything of the sorts. But I had a story. And the story embraced a desire to pursue a career in the fitness industry after a successful body transformation. I needed this trip for confidence. I needed this trip for clarity. Screw it. I’m going. The registration deadline had already passed by the end of January, so I sent a message to the 3 lovelies asking if there were room for just one more attendee. Jen Sinkler e-mailed me back almost immediately. Flight booked. Here. We. Go. Now fast forward to my flight en route to LAX: I LOVE traveling. I also value traveling alone. There’s something so empowering about independently boarding a flight for a solo adventure. In addition to my excitement for the retreat, I was also admittedly terrified beyond belief. I was stepping way outside of my comfort zone, and saying that I felt inadequate among the other attendees is a complete understatement. My balcony view for the weekend was pretty incredible, and the experiences that I encountered throughout the weekend were invaluable to me and my future.

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We had the opportunity to hear Neghar, Jill, and Jen speak about so many different things throughout the entire weekend, but the one thing that resonated with me the most was the power of sisterhood. Fifty (50!) vibrant women from all walks of life and various states and countries all united in a cozy room to cuss, discuss, and share fitness related ideas, advice, goals, and life experiences from one another. From here we meditated on the beach, we set goals within our newly formed accountability groups, and then we sweat it out together through yoga on the beach with Neghar, metabolic effects workouts with Jill, and lifting heavy shiz with Jen. This was happening.

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Sisterhood. To me it means complete, unfiltered support of one another. And that's exactly what the Radiance Retreat gave me. In an environment where I could have felt as if I didn't belong, as if I wasn't as far ahead as others in the game, or as if everybody were out of my league - instead I was pushed to follow my heart and start getting sh*t done. #GSD Why not? I can't even begin to explain to you how empowering this was for me. At some point in your life you have probably been directly involved with a group of females where jealousy was prevalent, and rather than supporting one another, "she" was constantly trying to stay one step in front of "her". Competition at its finest, right? And while I can say that I think competition can be completely badazz, there really is a healthy way to compete with others. But secretly hoping that others fail so that you can get ahead - that's NOT healthy competition. At the Radiance Retreat success was repeatedly celebrated. #sisterhood While working out with my girls at home success is encouraged AND expected from one another. #sisterhood Jen Sinkler saying "Hop on my back!" for a picture. THAT'S sisterhoodI'll celebrate that!

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Best. Picture. Ever.

I already knew that I had an UNMATCHED amount of support through friends, through my family, and through my sweet wife back home in Oklahoma. But I had no idea that I would receive that same amount of encouragement from 50 beautiful women that hardly even knew me. We were all there to better ourselves, but the incredible part to that is that each and every one of us completely invested in one another, and that made for an empowering weekend. Oh. And mimosas. :) But seriously.. Do you have a group of women that cheer for you when you succeed?  Do YOU cheer for them when they succeed? I sure hope so, because everybody deserves it.  Me. You. And all the ladies out there. We are in this thing together. Don't forget that. Engage. Empower. Elevate. #EEE xo Coach Fowler P.S. (You REALLY, really should follow Neghar, Jill, and Jen! They've undoubtedly helped pave my path ahead. And while you're at it, look up the lovely Molly Galbraith, too!

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Please Don't Judge My Workout.

I was at the gym last week for a sweaty workout sesh, and I downright struggled during the entire workout. I’m talking about multiple rest breaks, several modifications, and several thoughts of “WTF is wrong with me today?” And that’s a-okay. It happens, right? There are days that our bodies take complete control over our minds to let us know that we need to slow it down. Our bodies seriously need recovery time for sustainability. As much as I love to sport my Wonder Woman tank – I need to admit that I'm not her. I’m sorry if you didn’t already know. #spoileralert

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But even as all of this was going down, I still kept thinking that I needed to get back in there and “go hard or go home” because people are judging me. Or were they? I’m a trainer at this location – so maybe they’re watching to see if I modify any moves, or maybe they’re watching to see if I take a break, or maybe they're just plain watching because I’m front and center of the entire pack. Then I went on to justify my slowing efforts because I'm using heavier weights.

OH, STOP ALREADY. 

On the drive home that morning I started to analyze my mental state. Why the pressure during that specific workout? I'm very competitive and love a good challenge. I love to be next to someone that can push me cause I sure love to push back. These friendly competitions are so empowering and add a lot to our fitness game, but I wasn't thinking like that. I was simply worried about what others were thinking of me in that moment. Just dumb!

Do we train for the purpose of others, or do we train for ourselves? Hey, I love my fitness tribe. They empower me. They're some of the most rad women that I've ever met, but they are not my sole purpose for sweating. My purpose is to to get stronger each day, and only I get to be the one to decide what that progression looks like.

That very insecurity that I experienced is the same insecurity that keeps people away from gyms. They worry about how others see them. Whyyyyy? I don't know about you, but I've never judged anyone while working out. Big, small, fast, or slow... Everybody deserves credit for moving. Everybody deserves credit for trying. Everybody gets to experience their own journey.

I also don't care about how you move. Whether you're a crossfitter, distance runner, weightlifter, yogi, or a mall-walker... Aren't we sort of in this together? I have my own opinion about what I believe to be most effective, but I don't get to judge others and decide what they should be doing. That's an individual thing.

Should I feel added pressure because I'm in the fitness industry? I mean - if people are inspired by me, then I need to always be ON. Right?

WRONG.

Vulnerability and authenticity are much more relatable. There are days that I am on fire. (Feel free to insert Alicia Keys sing-along right here). But there are also days when my fire has been put out. That's life, friends. And that's authentic.

If you can relate to any of the above, check out the 3 important things to remember when starting OR continuing in your fitness journey. They are 3 constants that I have to revisit from time to time:

  • EVERYBODY STRUGGLES - Super fit or new to the gym, we all have our insecurities and we all have our off days. I can kill chin-ups, but my toes-to-bar are pretty jacked up sometimes. Keep doin' your thang. It gets better.
  • IT'S ALL ABOUT PROGRESS - Different bodies equate to different ability levels. Focus on your progress, and for the love of your sanity, never compare yourself to others.
  • THIS IS FOR YOU - This is your journey, so stay true to that. You will naturally inspire others along the way, but don't let that notion trap you into thinking you have to be perfect for others.

I promise you that I will never judge your workouts. I'm so inspired by those that want to get moving, those that seek to find their strengths, and those that are brave enough to just get started. I'm simply here to engage, empower, and elevate #EEE - for you and for me.

Go lift something this week- or not. You decide!

xo

Coach Fowler

That Time I Ate 2 Big Macs...

I started wearing plus-sized clothing in elementary school. At 12 years old I owned my first pair of “goal jeans”. I had always halfway joked that I was “big boned”, but at 238lbs during my senior in high school it was pretty evident that I was much more than thick. I was obese. I was hopeless. And I commonly used food as an emotional crutch. FullSizeRender

I remember the day that I ordered 2 Big Mac hamburgers and a biggie-sized fry, accompanied by a large sugary coke to wash it all down. I ate every single bite of that gargantuan meal, and afterward I had even bragged that I was capable of consuming that much.  Thinking back to a moment like that makes me so sad for my teenage self.

My eating habits were completely reckless throughout my youth. I ate senselessly a lot of the time. I would regularly order a fast food meal on-the-go and then discreetly add a biscuit to my breakfast meal or an additional burger to my lunch/dinner meal. This meant that I could gorge the extra item in private and consume the acceptable amount in front of others. I engaged in these eating rituals frequently.

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There are no horrific events that happened to me as a child that can explain why food was my emotional crutch. I like food - plain and simple.  I love food, actually. And for a long time I was completely obsessed with eating. Though my food obsession took over my obese physique, I was still super active in sports, specifically fast-pitch softball. It would eventually secure me a college scholarship that punched my one way ticket outta town. I was headed to Texas, y’all!

I was always an athlete. Physical activity never really bothered me, but once I walked onto my college campus my activity level was forever changed. I discovered monster miles, distance sprints, and other scary, scary biz. I was an overweight kid living 4 hours away from my small hometown in Oklahoma. I had previously only lifted some heavy weights with the high school football guys. I was in unfamiliar territory in fitness land. The obvious change in my everyday activity helped me drop nearly 40lbs my freshman year of college. Without a doubt, my college experience truly changed my life for the better.

I still devoured Whataburger taquitos and participated with my college softball team in pizza-eating contests at the local Cici’s Pizza (hey, the owner loved us!), but I was still losing weight. I didn’t realize it at the time, but self-confidence was making a cameo into my everyday life.

Post college I took up marathon running. I completed several half marathons and three full marathons, and I adopted the mentality of “I run so that I can eat whatever I want!” I was running 26.2 miles at 185lbs and inhaling pastas and bagels and carb-loading, oh my! From there and all throughout my twenties I hovered between the 180lb-200lb weight range. When I wasn’t training for a long run, I was in between cycles of calorie deficits to hit a “goal weight”, whatever that meant. I once remember trying to stay under 1200 calories, and if that included a small chocolate bar, then so be it. Hey, it fit within my calorie range. Right? UGH. I was so naive. I was still proud of my accomplishments. Running marathons had changed my body. I was never ripped, but running gave me a longer, more lean look.

At age 30 I had gotten down to my lowest weight at 172lbs, but I achieved this with major restriction and deprivation. Even at my skinniest to-date weight, I was still a flabby skinny.

In 2014 I joined a boot camp where box jumps, push-ups, rope slams, and chin-ups became an everyday addiction for me. I soon participated in a couple of weight loss challenges, and during those challenges I discovered that nutrition is where physique can be found.  YOU GUYS.  I was experiencing results that I had never before envisioned. I was becoming somebody that I had always wanted to be. I was wearing a single digit pant size. My current size 8 is much smaller than my 4th grade size 14 or my 12th grade size 20. I still don’t think I’ll ever escape a size large top, though.  Because BICEPS. My current weight? No idea. Seriously! I stopped stepping onto the scale when I started lifting heavy weights. Because MUSCLES. I now remain focused on the way my clothes fit my body.

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I remember coming home from a workout early one morning, and as I was making my morning coffee my emotions completely took over. I stood alone in my kitchen bawling, absolutely overcome with gratitude for where I was at that very moment in my life, both physically and mentally.

I’m a completely different person today. I wish that I could go back to the teenage me and let her know that life does get better. I wish I could tell her that she’ll one day radiate confidence that will allow her to help others along their way throughout their own fitness journey. I wish I could show her that she would one day work as a trainer motivating those around her.

If I tell you that I am resolved of my food obsession I would be lying to you. It’s something that I still cope with occasionally. Sometimes food isn’t a big deal to me, but other days I spend way too much mental energy on food. Some days I’m terrified of it. Isn't that crazy? I just never want to go back to where I was before. Do I ever order two Big Macs?  No! My lifestyle has completely changed, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t overdosed on whole almonds at some point in my recent past. Oops. I strive to make food choices consisting of proteins and lots of veggies. Do I indulge in yummies from time to time? Of course I do. But I moderate. I pay attention. I listen to my body. I now know the difference between weight loss and fat loss. Fat-be-gone!

My point here in this story? It’s never too late to start your journey. NEVAH! I own my journey, and I’m willing to put it out there to show you that anything is possible. You are worth it. You deserve to discover your very best version of yourself, and only you get to decide what that looks like.

Nothing happens instantaneously, but things happen with consistency. If I can do it, then so can you - I promise.

Let’s get to work. Let’s engage, empower, and elevate. #EEE

You ready?

xo

Coach Fowler

Leaky Workouts. Learn More About Urinary Incontinence Here.

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Months ago I was coaching my morning boot camp class when I overheard a woman express that she couldn't perform some of the exercises "because I pee a little every time..." Unfortunately this happens more than we think, or even more than we'd like to personally admit. I'm thankfully not a victim of the workout pees, but I know plenty of women - young, middle-aged, or older - that suffer from a leaky workout. Hey, call it what it is. Right?

My friend Jen Sinkler posted a great article some time back about urinary incontinence.  In the article she interviews Ann Wendel, PT, ATC, CMTPT, founder of Prana Physical Therapy in Alexandria, VA about the ways to help identify the causes of urinary incontinence and the several ways you can work to prevent it.

Lots of great info in this article.  To read more from Jen's article, click here!

xo

Coach Fowler

Starting Over. It's Not Easy.

Last week while driving home after my early morning workout, the following thought came to me: “It feels like I’ve completely started over in the gym… and it’s not easy!” You see, I spent all of 2014 mastering box jumps, getting tangled in TRX straps, sprinting on pavement, slamming ropes, and all kinds of other bootcamp stuff. I appreciate all of this shiz – it’s where my true fitness transformation took place. It’s where I learned about nutrition and developed a physique that I’ve never previously acquired. It’s where I’ve met some of my very best friends - friends that push me, and they let (ahem, they expect) me to push right back. I’m even an instructor now. It’s what I love.

But just a few months ago I decided to aim a different direction and take my fitness to a whole different level. It was time to LIFT HEAVY SH*T. Now, let me tell you, this wasn’t anything new to me. I lifted with the football guys back in our old, rusty, high school weight room. I was extremely overweight, so my mentality was, “If I lift heavy, then my heavy body weight is validated.” Yeah, yeah… That was then. So lifting heavy? I LOVE IT. I’m strong. I’m capable. I’m motivated. I’m driven.

But WHOA! Getting back into a place where I lift heavy, learn new lifts, and speak some new language has been a humbling endeavor. I may be strong, but my form needs work on the deadlift. I can kill some chin-ups, but my kipping pull-ups take me back to my days as a big kid trying to make it across the monkey bars. It didn’t happen. Ever.

I’m improving, but not without some frustration along the way. I absolutely know that I’m capable of anything I put my mind to. And I know my snatch will be kickazz one day, so I’ll continue to work hard, practice patience, and set high expectations for myself along the way.

This made me question starting over in other areas in life, too. It’s never easy. Every single Sunday night I’m a wee bit sad that the weekend is ending. The week is starting over.

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Relationships end, and the sadness that comes with starting over with a new love can be crushing.  Maybe even joining a gym for the first time in a long time – it’s still starting over. And with that brings some intimidation and maybe even some guilt.

But the only thing that ever remains the same in life is change itself. Change will always occur whether we want it to or not. We constantly start over at something all of the time. So rather than letting the new challenges overwhelm us, approach them with an opportunity to see a fresh start, a clean slate, and a new goal to beat. Monday, you are mine!

Life is a constant pursuit. This doesn’t mean we run in circles. It means that we are constantly striving to find our best self. And if that means that I have to spend extra time working on my deadlift, or even more time trying to pull that power clean, then so be it. I’m getting stronger for it. And in the meantime, I’ll continue to be humbled along the way. Never content - always chasing a new goal.

Nobody said it would be easy. So punch Monday in the face and conquer your week!